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The Great Katie Kate Offers Answers About Asthma Review by Meg Falciani

M. Maitland Deland, MD
Greenleaf Book Group Press
PO Box 91860
Austin, TX 78709

The Great Katie Kate Offers Answers About Asthma is the third book in The Great Katie Kate series. In this book, written by Dr. M. Maitland Deland and illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin, the Great Katie Kate appears to three children, Julie, Andrew, and Claire, and helps each of them navigate their new asthma diagnoses. She explains to each about types of asthma triggers, testing and medications the doctor has prescribed, and why it is so important to follow the doctor’s directions. She also helps them remove Worry Wombat, a characterization of the very real fears and concerns they have, from their lives. List price for this hardcover book is $14.95.

With a houseful of asthmatics, we are no strangers to nebulizers, peak flow meters, and controller and rescue medications.  We found this book to be a great resource for the younger children, and a nice refresher for the older ones. It explains the process of diagnosing asthma (including possible tests that a doctor might do,) followed by a variety of treatment plans. The Great Katie Kate uses medical words such as bronchispirometry, and nebulizer, but then explains them in kid-friendly terms. This way, when parents and doctors discuss the child’s condition and care plan, the terms being discussed are familiar and less intimidating. By explaining the diagnosis and treatment processes in a simplified manner, this book empowers young asthmatics to help be active in their own care.

I liked how the three friends each had specific types of asthma (exercise induced, food allergy induced, environmental allergy induced), and different treatment plans tailored to the individual’s needs. However, I found the length a bit awkward.  It was too long for my younger children (ages three and six) to remain focused during the entire read, but because the characters’ stories were so intertwined, there were no places where we could take a break without interrupting the flow of the story. I am impressed with the author’s attention to detail, but found myself glossing over specifics to keep my sons’ attention.  (For example, since we do not use a peak flow meter, I generalized that section to keep the story moving.) Although this book is intended for children ages four to eight, I think it is a better read-aloud for five- and six-year-olds where a parent can skim parts that do not immediately apply.  Children aged seven to nine who are ready for details and have the ability to pay attention the entire time may find it a good independent-reading book.

While this book is intended for young patients, it is a good book read for friends and family, to help demystify the diagnosis and treatment of asthma. Given the pervasiveness of asthma, this book would be a good addition to an early elementary health education unit. It would also be a good teaching tool for classmates of children with asthma, to help them understand asthma and not worry about their friend.  We will certainly be sharing The Great Katie Kate Explains All About Asthma with our friends who have asthma.

Product review by Meg Falciani, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, March, 2014