Every night, in households around the world, parents and children bond as they share bedtime stories. For Stephanie Sorkin, a mom from Long Island, NY, this cherished family tradition led to the creation of a picture book, “Nutley, the Nut-Free Squirrel,” which teaches children about food allergies. All of the author’s proceeds from the sale of the book go to FARE. We asked Stephanie to tell us about the inspiration for Nutley and her involvement with FARE.
What is your connection to food allergies?
I have three daughters with food allergies. My 6-year-old has multiple allergies: peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, mustard, flaxseed, sesame, and canola oil. My 7-year-old is allergic to avocados, and my 10-year-old suddenly became allergic to all pitted fruit and carrots about a year ago.
Tell us about your book. How did you think of the idea? Why did you decide to write it?
My book, “Nutley, the Nut-free Squirrel,” is about a squirrel with a nut allergy. The book is upbeat and whimsical, and the message of awareness and acceptance resonates with parents, teachers, and children. It even includes a recipe for nut-free banana bread! I’m getting amazing reviews from both the food allergy community and those without allergies.
The story came to me one night, as I often make up my children’s bedtime stories. My kids loved it! I decided to write it down, perfect it, and eventually felt compelled to publish it. Next, I realized that I had an incredible fundraising opportunity on my hands. I figured, who wouldn’t purchase a book when 100 percent of the author’s proceeds were going to food allergy research and education?
How can others get involved?
There are many ways to get involved. The most simple and direct way would be to purchase the book on Amazon.com or Barnesandnoble.com. You can donate a book to a local hospital or school. You can share the news through social media – let everyone know about the book and that 100 percent of the author’s proceeds will be donated. You can tell your children’s school and local libraries about the book. If you own a store or a friend is a retailer, you can sell the book! Nutley is available wholesale through all of the major distributors.
How did you decide to get involved with FARE?
I chose FARE as the recipient of my fundraising efforts because I felt that the organization was a leader in the food allergy community. It seemed as if FARE was a household name…everyone in and out of the food allergy community had heard of the organization. FARE always has the most up-to-the-minute information available. I felt confident that the money raised will be put to good use.
What has been the best part about publishing your book?
So many amazing things have happened since I’ve published Nutley, I really don’t know where to start. If I had to narrow it down to the best part, I’d say it’s the heartfelt responses that I’m getting from teachers, parents and students. Parents have told me that their child with food allergies feels empowered. This brings tears to my eyes! Parents of non-allergic children have told me that they were so proud of their child’s response to the book—that they were moved by the message and wanted to know how they can help people and if they could give things away to charity. Students have written to me saying that it’s their favorite book. Teachers have breathed a sigh of relief—they now have a learning tool to open the floor for discussions about allergies and helping others. I’m thoroughly looking forward to what the future holds for my book and for the awareness and acceptance that it can bring.
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