Book Review: Aidan The Wonder Kid Who Could Not Be Stopped
Aidan The Wonder Kid Who Could Not Be Stopped! A Food Allergy & Intolerance Story is written by Colleen Brunetti and illustrated by Dan Carsten.
Colleen has done a wonderful job exploring the challenges of children with food allergies and intolerances. All in a kid-friendly and engaging manner.
The main character, Aidan The Wonder Kid is a very relatable child. He has typical interests and activities of most kids… Especially silly things like jumping over the couch rather than walking around it).
His superpowers are his positive nature and abundance of energy. But those superpowers are zapped away when he eats the wrong foods for his body. It takes his super detective mom and his doctor to figure out his kryptonite: dairy and gluten.
Subsequently, Aidan the Wonder Kid and his mom do a lot of kitchen experiments to figure out new foods that taste good that are good for his body.
Through this discovery of his dairy and gluten sensitivities, Aidan The Wonder Kid helps kids understand their own food allergies and intolerances. The story delivers the empowering message that taking care of our body is important for everyone.
Additionally, the message is clear that health issues around food don’t have to stop someone from enjoying life to the fullest.
Clearly, having a child with food restrictions can make it difficult for them (and you) to get through daily life safely. Fortunately, this story is a call to awareness.
It normalizes food restrictions by emphasizing the point that each person feels best when they eat right for their own body.
Author Interview: Colleen Brunetti
For those of us that don’t know who you are, can you introduce yourself?
My name is Colleen Brunetti. I am a former teacher turned health coach and author. I live in the state of Connecticut with my husband, kids, a dog, and an old cat that thinks she runs the house.
What sparked the idea for Aidan the Wonder Kid Who Could Not Be Stopped?
When my son was very little, I used to make up bedtime stories about Aidan the Wonder Boy and his trusty sidekick dog, Rocco.
Once he was diagnosed with food intolerances, I re-worked those old bedtime stories to help him understand his new way of eating. I didn’t know I was going to publish it though! That came much later.
Did you always want to be a children’s book author?
I had no idea I was going to end up a children’s book author.
However, I have always loved books. So much so, that I did get my Masters in Literacy and become a certified Reading Specialist during my teaching career. Perhaps it was always just a matter of time.
I imagine it’s hard for any author to trust an illustrator with their book. Just how scared were you to put your book in the hands of another artist?
My illustrator, Dan Carsten, made it easy actually. A mutual friend referred him to me and when I met him, we got along great. I loved his work, he was excited to do it, and I really didn’t want anyone else on the project.
I’ve heard that a picture book author has an instinct for what needs to be said and what should be left to the illustrator to show. Did that come naturally for you?
This is such a great question!
I would say that instinct grew over time as I worked on this book as my first. Dan and I developed something of a creative partnership throughout the creation of the book.
He was working his magic, but he was really great about letting me be involved in some of the artistic direction, too. Now that we’ve done one book together, and are working on a new series, I find myself writing in a way to suit his artwork.
I have ideas of how he can make the story even better with visuals, and I’ll set him up for that with my word choice, while leaving it to him to make it happen with his skill set, sense of humour, and visual storytelling.
It’s a really fun process now.
What were the challenges you had to encounter to complete Aidan the Wonder Kid Who Could Not Be Stopped?
My first challenge was figuring out how to pay my artist. I fully believe good art should be compensated, but I did not have enough cash.
I raised the money through an Indiegogo campaign, some support from a non-profit, and fronted the rest.
Then, there were a lot of learning curves when it came to formatting and uploading, but we worked through them all.
Now I am eye-ball deep in learning and implementing good marketing practices so I can get the book in front of people.
Is there a real Wonder Kid? Who is the real Super Smart Detective Mom?
So my son is actually the real Wonder Kid, and this is his story. I am the Super Smart Detective Mom!
Aidan was very sick as a toddler and nobody could figure out why. I was studying to be a certified health coach and I read about how food intolerances can mask in many ways and I suddenly knew what was wrong with him!
I ran a food challenge (where you take out the suspected foods) and also worked with a naturopathic doctor and we finally figured everything out – and he got so much better!
When you were being a mad scientist in the kitchen what was your worst creation? What was the best?
I’ve made some pretty weird dairy free cheeses at home! I’m sure it can be done well – but I haven’t figured it out!
I think my best creation was turning a gluten free pie crust mix into mini pies so that I could grab one or two from the freezer and my son would have instant treats over the holidays.
What is Aiden’s favourite food?
Well, the book refers to him as a Super Duper Taco Eater – which he still is. Pizza is a close second though!
On your journey to becoming an author, what has been the best and worst advice you have received?
The best advice I’ve received is to hire out for people to do the things you’re not as strong at. This might be illustration, or layout, and definitely always hire a professional editor!
The worst advice I’ve ever gotten is to hire these people as cheaply as possible. Thankfully, I didn’t listen. But I’ve seen a lot of really well meaning authors end up with plagiarized pictures they thought were original, or just terrible art, or editing that misses mistakes.
It’s not worth it to skimp!
Who are your favourite children’s authors?
I have so many favourites – it is hard to choose! I really love the Olivia books by Ian Falconer and they helped inspire my upcoming series. Patricia Pollaco and Jan Brett are two other lifelong favourites.
What’s the best question you have ever been asked?
The best question I get asked is “Where do you get your ideas from?”
If kids ask that question, I get to tell them about how great writers write about what they know – and anyone can turn anything into a great story.
If adults ask, the simple answer is “My kids!” Parenting is a wild adventure, and I’m really getting a kick out of turning my children’s escapades and mishaps into books.
If you weren’t answering the questions in this interview right now, what would you be doing?
Well, if I were being practical, I would be contacting more bloggers and working on marketing! If I were doing something purely for fun, it would be diving into some artwork I want to try… someday I may just illustrate a story myself, and I’m anxious to start playing with an idea I have for that!
Is there anything else you would like to share with us about yourself, your writing, or Aidan the Wonder Kid Who Could Not Be Stopped?
I hope my book empowers kids with food allergies to be okay with feeding their bodies just right, and inspires their friends and families to be empathetic and help to keep them safe and healthy!
And if you enjoy Aidan the Wonder Kid, both the story and the art, I hope you’ll subscribe to my mailing list to hear about the new series Dan Carsten and I are creating. It’s a rollicking rhyming run through a day with a very funny brother/sister duo. Sign up here.
Connect With The Author
If you’d like to connect further with Colleen Brunetti, you can visit her on her website, or on social media.
If you’re a teacher, or know a teacher, Colleen has developed common core aligned lesson plans to go along with Aidan The Wonder Kid. You can get them here.
Final Thoughts on Aidan The Wonder Kid Who Could Not Be Stopped
Despite the focus on Aidan’s dairy and gluten allergies, this story includes friends who have other restrictions. Nut allergies. Sugar sensitivities. Even generally healthy kids who feel better eating healthier foods.
Most kids likely know someone with food restrictions of some sort. Aidan the Wonder Kid helps them understand why that might be.
There is an underlying message, too, that differences are normal. And more importantly, that treating people with differences with kindness and respect is a normal aspect of being human.
Finally, knowing about food allergies helps kids keep their friends safe. Safe from the allergen, from accidental exposure, and from bullying from kids who just haven’t yet learned the lesson.
Whether you have a child with food restrictions or not, Aidan the Wonder Kid is a great book to have in your home library.
You can buy Aidan the Wonder Kid on Amazon, or directly from Colleen’s website.
Do you have a child with food restrictions? How do you teach them to manage their diet to keep them safe? Let me know in the comments below.