Mom pens ‘fairy tale’ about kid’s food allergies
It’s Snow White and the seven food substitutions.
Queens native Letizia Barbetta recently published a children’s book about debilitating food allergies and how it impacts kids — a subject near and dear to the mom of three.
Barbetta wrote “Kylie’s Special Treat: A Food Allergy Fairy Tale,” as an homage to her 11-year-old daughter, Sofia, who is deathly allergic to milk.
“This is the book I would have loved to find when she was first diagnosed,” said Barbetta, 38.
The 30-page, illustration-heavy book follows a princess who tries to woo a dashing prince. What winds up uniting the two star-crossed lovers are special allergy-free cookies infused with fairy dust and a love of painting.
“I wanted to make the story show that she was not defined by her food allergies,” Barbetta said.
Barbetta, who works as a part-time consultant, said trying to design and publish the book was considerably tougher than penning the story.
“It’s been an investment for sure,” she said.
Barbetta found an illustrator on Craigslist and decided to self-publish the book.
“I really wanted it to look professional,” she said. “I did it for [Sofia].”
Her children served as a mini-focus group for the project, which took five years to bring to fruition.
“They helped me pick the illustrations. They were my consultants,” she said.
Barbetta’s husband, Anthony, was the first to discover how severe Sofia’s allergies were when he was feeding her as an infant.
“I knew something was wrong,” he said. “She swelled up and started projectile vomiting.”
After a battery of tests, they discovered Sofia had adverse reactions to milk, eggs and peanuts.
“It was a huge adjustment. We’re an Italian family — we use a lot of cheeses,” he said.
Little Sofia said that while it “sucks” that she can’t eat pizza, her allergies don’t control her life.
“I feel jealous a little bit,” she said. “Once you get used to it, it’s not that bad.”
The upshot to her ailments is that she has now been immortalized as princess Kylie.
“I like the book. It’s just like me,” she said. “I thought she copied it from a computer.”
To go along with the book, Barbetta set up a website, princesswithfoodallergies.com, which has recipes and tips for mothers adjusting to food allergies.
“This could be a great teaching tool,” Barbetta said.
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