Cover Image

Peanut by A. Halliday

Halliday, Ayun. Peanut. Illus. Paul Hoppe. New York: Schwartz & Wade Books, 2012. Print.

In the graphic novel Peanut, Ayun Halliday, a graduate of Northwestern University, and author and illustrator of the parenting zine East Village Inky, brings attention to the fact that some people live with life-threatening allergies to a common food item as she tells the story of a teenage girl trying to make her mark at school.

When Sadie asks a girl about her “wicked cool” ID bracelet, she is introduced to the concept of severe food allergies. Sadie learns that the girl has a lethal allergy to peanuts and has to wear a medical bracelet. After moving to a new neighbourhood, Sadie is desperate to find a way to fit in at her new high school. She orders a medical bracelet and pretends to have a peanut allergy. This has the desired effect of gaining the attention of kids at school. Sadie builds friendships around the lie and finds it increasingly difficult and stressful to maintain the charade with her friends and with school staff, but cannot bring herself to tell the truth.

Over the course of events, Sadie and other characters in the novel increase their awareness, to a limited degree only, about a severe peanut allergy and its potential consequences.  It was a bit disappointing that Sadie’s character matured very little over the course of the story, both in her interactions with others as well as in her health knowledge. The story ends a little abruptly so the reader does not find out the longer term consequences of pretending to have a medical condition, co-opting the challenges of living with a severe allergy to gain popularity and eventually being found out, or whether or not these experiences change Sadie’s outlook.

New York based illustrator and Visual Arts instructor Paul Hoppe uses colour sparingly in Peanut. Readers will be drawn to the book cover, with its rich blue monochromatic background featuring a lone peanut shell. Illustrations within the graphic novel are all in blue-black, white, and grey; the only exception is Sadie who stands out in her salmon-coloured top. Aerial views lend an interesting perspective to the scenes.

Recommended: 3 out of 4 stars
Reviewer: Maria Tan

Maria is a library intern at the University of Alberta’s John W. Scott Health Sciences Library. She enjoys travelling and visiting unique and far-flung libraries. Maria firmly believes that children's literature is an essential component in the fountain of youth.