In the last couple of weeks I shared the news of the Lilly Diabetes and Disney partnership which includes the first (of many) children’s books about diabetes and a writing contest with an unbelievable prize. It has a positive message of what children with diabetes and their families can do, not what they shouldn’t do.
Coco and Goofy’s Goofy Day
Because our 4yo loves Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and even had that as his theme for his recent birthday party, Q assumed the new book Coco and Goofy’s Goofy Day was for him, not her! When he saw it he immediately wanted to read it three times in a row. And then he used my iPhone to take pictures of the pages (and then about 20 more pictures of his trains!).
I didn’t think too much of it until the next morning when announced that he needed to get his pack for his diabetes and needed to check his finger.
He is at the age were he is into role playing and when he gets into character, he gets completely into character. So his new character is much like Coco: he has diabetes and all the accoutrements to go along with it. Though when he brought me Q’s PDM, he didn’t really want me to poke his finger!
Since he was only 10 months old when his older sister was diagnosed, he hasn’t really known a life without it. It’s not that he really understands what it means at this point, but he knows the care routine that we go through each day with Q. He even asks for a juice or Smarties when Q is low!
I think this book, while not intended for him specifically, is helping to open up a dialog with him about diabetes.
Q and I read the book together at bedtime that night (and several times since). She still enjoys Mickey Mouse Clubhouse even though she’s almost 7. We have many of the Mickey books on our bookshelf. I think that she was happiest because there is a Disney character who has diabetes.
What I found to be a particularly good resource for opening up a dialog with her was the Q&A at the end of the book in the section “From Coco’s World to Yours.”
“This section provides some simple questions and answers about the story. We hope it will help you begin a conversation about diabetes, whether you’re speaking with your child, your child’s siblings, or your child’s friends.”
The questions at the end of the book are:
What is diabetes?
Why does Coco wear a bracelet with the word DIABETES on it?
What kinds of foods can Coco eat with type 1 diabetes?
What does Coco carry in her backpack?
Why does Coco get her blood sugar (glucose) checked?
I think those question are spot on! They are exactly the kinds of questions I have heard Q’s schoolmates ask. And as such, this would be a perfect book to read to preschool and early elementary school children, especially if teachers take the time to do the Q&A, which they should.
When Q was diagnosed at three, she was still in preschool. I went on our local library’s website looking for titles to request that we might read to her and to her classmates. There were none. I called the children’s librarian and he couldn’t come up with any either. I did end up finding a few books, but they all left something to be desired.
In fact for years when I read the Rufus book I even skipped over sentences here and there.
I guess my issue with some books for newly diagnosed children is that they end with wanting to find a cure. At the time I needed Q to accept her new medical condition and realize that it was okay. I felt that books that talked about the cure made it seem like she was somehow deficient and that she wouldn’t be okay until a cure was found. And we all know that it won’t be in the next five years!
My only criticism of the book is that Coco doesn’t speak and only says “Eek!” which somehow her friends are able to interpret into long, complex sentences. It’s the whole “Why can Goofy talk, but not Pluto?” question. That she only says eek might be because this is a character who has already appeared on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse in earlier episodes. But it would be nice in future books if Coco could tell us how she feels, not through an interpreter.
And in true D-Mom style, Coco’s mom stays for the party to help her check her blood sugar, make good food choices, and get insulin. Darn, I wish Disney and Lily had come up with a solution for this birthday party and playdate D-Mom conundrum!
Q asked, as many of you have, if there will be a plush Coco doll. The answer is no. But just think of how valuable that would be to comfort children at diagnosis and beyond. And I know most families would be willing to pay for one. I hope Lilly Diabetes and Disney get the hint that we want a Coco plush. Hint, hint!
The book will be available from healthcare providers including pediatric endocrinologists at no charge. They will not be available for retail sale.
More posts about children’s books.