10. June 2016
Book Review: ‘Prinzessin Blubberbauch’ (‘Princess Rumblebelly’)

Children with allergies quickly come up against unforeseen, invisible barriers imposed by their own bodies. These barriers cannot be perceived by others. Many people feel as if they are at the whim of their bodies, misunderstood and sometimes alone. Children with allergies have to learn not only how to do without, but also how to deal with shame and isolation. They have to explain that their rash is not contagious and understand when others don’t really understand.

Fortunately there are children’s books that address this subject and encourage them through lively, animated stories. Books that include a fart scale with little clouds, with little bunnies that make kids laugh, or exercises that help relieve allergy-related stress. We chose three of these children’s books and reviewed them through the lens of our medical expertise and our hearts. Here is the first one.

Under the Microscope: Prinzessin Blubberbach (Princess Rumblebelly)

Hard facts: Written by Fritzi Bender. Illustration & Layout: Sabine Sauter. Published by BoBo Verlag in 2013. 128 pages. Price: €14.50.

Plot (spoiler alert!): King Börger and Queen Pomisse live in Everything-Yummyland, where chips grow on trees and the lakes are full of nougat. Following the birth of their long-wished-for daughter, the royal couple sadly discover that the princess has health issues. Every time she eats something in Everything-Yummyland, her tummy starts to rumble and she begins to fart like crazy. The entire kingdom is besieged by the flatulence of the Princess. They try everything to find a cure. The inventor Smartypants Makes-It-Better even invents a rattling fart machine. Finally Dr What-Cant-I-Eat arrives with a solution that brings relief for the Princess. The diagnosis: Princess Rumblebelly can’t tolerate the sugary, fat-laden foods in Everything-Yummyland. With a balanced diet that includes many foods from the neighbouring countries (Fruit and Veg Land, Whole Grain Land and Egg Land), the digestive issues of the Princess are over.

What we liked:

  • Beautiful illustrations
  • The large golden envelope tucked away in the back of the book
  • Cheerful tone
  • Positive approach to the topic of flatulence, removing shame and stress from the situation (for example, by including a personal fart list with little clouds to be filled out by the reader)
  • List of difficult words and their explanations (tagged in the text with a small crown)

What could make it even better:

  • In terms of medical precision: The book is specifically aimed at children with food intolerances. From a medical standpoint, this includes allergies such as peanut allergies as well as intolerances such as lactose intolerance. These intolerances cannot be resolved with an optimally balanced diet; they are caused by an immune system error or an enzyme deficiency in the gut. Strict avoidance is often the only measure that brings lasting relief. The book does not address this medical reality, lumping ‘unbalanced diet’ and ‘food intolerances’ into the same category. Although we believe that children should eat a wide variety of foods, digestive distress after eating too much fat is not due to an allergy or intolerance.
  • In terms of length: Make it short and sweet. All lot of time goes by in Everything-Yummyland before Dr What-Cant-I-Eat begins his diagnosis on page 87. We could have done were somewhat fewer – ahem – farts.
  • In terms of target group: The book focuses mainly on the concerns of the royal couple and how bothered the people in Everything-Yummyland are by the noise and smell. Princess Rumblebelly is a baby not yet able to talk. Obviously her sensitivity to the issue is not yet part of the story. But it does not offer children suffering from digestive issues any coping strategies. At certain moments in the book, we wondered whether this book was actually aimed at the reader (the parents) or the listener (the children).

Conclusion: A lot of sympathy, creativity and sincerity went into the writing of this book. The careful details make it entertaining to read, and the golden surprise envelope is a bonus. But if you want to explain food allergies to children and are looking for ways to cope, you will need to find another an alternative.

Overall rating:Sterne Buchsbesprechung