The children’s book Steak at Stake: A Food Allergy Story is an entertaining but very realistic look at some of the challenges of living with food allergies. This story educates young readers not only about allergies themselves, but also about the importance of compassion, respect and consideration for others.
The author of Steak and Stake, Desirée DeNourie, is a mother of three boys, the youngest of whom has serious allergies to milk, peanuts and tree nuts. Her son and the challenges she has faced accommodating his food restrictions provided the inspiration for her first foray as a children’s book author.
Story Highlights the Need for Understanding and Compassion
The story that unfolds in Steak at Stake was inspired by real life events that confronted DeNourie and her family. “We had a similar experience to the one depicted in the story,” DeNourie said. “Luckily, this was the worst one we’ve had.”
In the book, a young boy named Cole goes out to dinner with his family. Despite his severe food allergies, Cole loves to eat at restaurants. Unfortunately, the server is not willing to accommodate the dietary restrictions that are necessary to keep him safe. Her lack of understanding and compassion threatens to ruin the steak dinner that Cole has been craving.
DeNourie knew that many people in the food allergy community would be able to relate to her family’s experience. “The story takes the reader through a common dilemma facing many people today,” DeNourie said, “as there are an estimated 15 million people with food allergies in America alone.”
A Realistic Look at the Food Allergy Experience
Readers have praised the fact that Steak at Stake refuses to sugar-coat the food allergy experience. Although the story has a satisfying ending for Cole, it also accurately portrays the fact that people do not always have understanding and helpful reactions when they learn about food allergies, even when the person affected is a child.
“I feel this is important,” one reviewer commented, “because we do need to show our kids that not everyone responds to food allergies in a positive manner, and not everyone will accommodate their allergies.”
Steak at Stake goes beyond educating children about the basics of food allergies. The book imparts important life lessons about empathy that can be applied to many other situations. “The story hopes to convey the need for more kindness and compassion for those who are different than the majority,” DeNourie said.
Positive Press and a Mom’s Choice Award
DeNourie has received overwhelmingly positive responses from those who have encountered her book. The story has received press from various print and online newspapers, and testimonials from parents and educators who appreciate the way the book tackles difficult subjects.
The most notable recognition came when Steak at Stake earned a Mom’s Choice Award. Dawn Matheson, executive director of Mom’s Choice Awards, said, “Our panel of judges really felt this book merited a place on our list of the best in family-friendly products that parents and educators can feel confident in using.”
A Busy Blog and a Future Book
DeNourie is also involved in the food allergy community through her website, Sharing Community of Food Allergies. This website and blog works to increase awareness of food allergies and share the experiences of people whose lives are directly affected by food allergies.
DeNourie is a member of FARE, FAACT, Kids With Food Allergies and Freedible. In addition, she hosts a Goodreads group “Living With Food Allergies,” where other members can see recommendations for books about allergies and participate in discussions about food allergies.
Although her busy schedule makes it hard to develop a firm timeline for publication, DeNourie does have plans to write another children’s book in the future!