Zucker, Zauber und Zinnober (“Sugar, Magic and a lot of Fuss”)
A picture book for children with coeliac disease and their friends.
Every day there are more and more children who have to live with food intolerance and thus demonstrate a high degree of self-discipline. It is therefore all the more astounding that barely any children’s book has taken up this issue so far. The picture book “Zucker, Zauber und Zinnober” – lovingly illustrated by Anna Marshall (winner of the “Meefisch Award” 2011) – is a publication that will not only be embraced by children with coeliac disease.
„Zucker, Zauber und Zinnober“ tells the story of Fiona, a little field mouse who, one day, is not allowed to eat cereals anymore. She finds a new friend in Yoko, a Japanese mouse from the city, and with her learns how to bake a real magic cake without cereals. While they are enjoying a picnic with their friends, the little mice learn even more: everyone eats differently but eating together beats everything!
Based on her own experience, the author knows how the diagnosis of coeliac disease results in a time of uncertainty for parents and children alike. The family has to change their eating habits at home on a radical scale and dealing with food spontaneously in everyday life, outside of their home, at the day-care centre, at the nursery, at school, at friends’ homes cannot be taken for granted anymore from one day to the next. When the author’s family thought about how to convey this particular situation to their three-year-old daughter, they lacked in a children’s book exploring the issue of food intolerance. This is why she developed a children’s book herself, a book that tells a story of gluten-free food with the appropriate combination of care and serenity.
„Zucker, Zauber und Zinnober“ tells the story of Fiona Fieldmouse, who has lost her zest for food and is too run down to play with other children. Mum and Dad Mouse are worried and take her to see Doctor Chamomile who eventually finds out that Fiona cannot eat most of the cereals anymore as she does not agree with the gluten contained in these cereals. At this point the book demonstrates in a playful way which kinds of food must be avoided by Fiona in the future: bread, rolls, cake, cookies, pasta, muffins, waffles and even ice cream. However, they are in for a shock at first but the family is then introduced to new kinds of food and recipes and thus learns to prepare delicious dishes. Fiona quickly recovers and soon returns to her cheerful form as a little mouse. On a shopping tour, though, Fiona is tempted as she sees her friends in a cafe enjoying waffles and ice cream. This is the moment she meets Yoko who has just moved to town with her mom to open up the first sushi restaurant. Through her, Fiona is introduced to a foreign cuisine and culture in which cereals only play a minor role. They start to experiment in the sushi shop’s kitchen creating a magic cake that consists of both of their favourite ingredients. All of their friends are invited to a picnic. Linus’ face is suddenly covered with red spots because he does not agree with the jelly powder that’s in the cake. After recovering from the shock, they start to paint their faces with dots of raspberry mush, have a big laugh and decide to bake a cake without gluten and gelatine next time. On their way home, Yoko recalls the recipe in her pocket that her mother wrote down for Fiona. It is the first recipe in Fiona’s collection that invites the readers at the end of the book to give it a go themselves.
About the illustrator
In December 2011, illustrator Anna Marshall received “Der Meefisch”, the German award for illustrations in picture books for the best unpublished picture book project "Oma und die 99 Schmetterlinge“ (“Grandma and the 99 Butterflies”). In this book Anna Marshall explores the relationship of a little girl and her grandmother “pointing out – without being melodramatic – that illness and death are parts of life just like love and suffering and that children are absolutely able to deal with such situations.” (Süddeutsche.de, 10.12.2011)
About the author
The author and publisher Birgit Kulmer is an art historian and a mother of two daughters who has been involved in the field of art, both in a practical and theoretical way, for many years – formerly as an academic and scholarship holder at Humboldt University Berlin and currently with her husband Sandro Parrotta at Parrotta Contemporary Art, an art gallery in Stuttgart. She wrote her first children’s book for her daughter.
The book’s target group
The book „Zucker, Zauber und Zinnober“ is a cardboard picture book in the format 162 x 210 mm and with its charming design and illustrations provides the characteristics for a perfect gift or children’s book. Due to its catchy imagery it works ideally as storybook to be read to children (also on an educational level) aged two years and older, who have just been confronted with the diagnosis, but also for teenagers and adults who can possibly recall their own childhood experiences or would like to treat other people affected by coeliac disease.