It might seem easy to review a children’s a book. After all, it’s only twenty pages and it’s mostly pictures, right? Wrong. In some ways, a children’s author has a more difficult task in the writing due to that limited space. Unless the author is also the illustrator, there is another creative professional with a hand in the story whose effort is equally important.
In Rowena Cala’s children’s title, Gia & Lincoln’s Aggravating Allergies (Strategic Book Publishing), illustrated by Gabriel Vega, the author was faced with writing an amusing children’s book about playful jungle animals becoming friends, but it really goes so much farther than that. Just like any full-length novel, there are key plot elements and character developments, only Cala’s story was confined to picture book length.
In her book, Lincoln is an outcast from the other lions because of his meat allergy. Gia, a monkey, spies him from up in her tree and cautiously wants to know why he’s crying. No sooner do they talk through Lincoln’s allergy and the resulting loss of friends and bullying, than they agree that Gia will be his new friend, playing and laughing with him while sharing the bananas he secretly enjoys so much but cannot reach from the ground. Just when it seems that the story has resolved, a new crisis arises: Gia is allergic to lions.
The storyline is original and creative while incorporating important themes that parents and educators will appreciate the opportunity to share, such as prejudices, medical conditions, bullying, friendship, and embracing our differences. The illustrations were a little chunky and basic, but fit with the story nicely. Overall, it will be a fun read for per- or emerging readers.