You may hesitate to pick up a book that sounds like an educational brochure for kids recently diagnosed with diabetes if you’re not one. That’s a crying shame, because Diabetes and Me is a surprisingly great read for just about anybody—kid or adult, Type 1, Type 2, or non-diabetic. With great illustrations, a diversity of narrators, and coherent explanations of what it means to live with diabetes; as well as its origins, treatment, and common complications, it’s truly entertaining and educational at the same time.

The book introduces and explains diabetes by following kids with different types and severity through their diagnosis, treatment, and how it affects their everyday lives. A wide variety of hardware, software, and medicine is involved with treating diabetes on a daily basis (from blood-sugar testing strips to insulin pumps and everything in between). Besides the technical side of things, Diabetes and Me wisely addresses the internalized stigma of the disease—as a kid, it’s not your fault you have diabetes, but you do need to take care of yourself, eat carefully, and make sure your numbers are okay so you can still do the things you love. The book also deals with the external judgement it may provoke—peers treating you like a weirdo or like you’re “sick” or family and friends not knowing how to react to your dietary or activity changes. The book does an excellent and honest job of acknowledging that a diabetes diagnosis can be tricky, complicated, and emotional, but that a good attitude, along with your family’s support, makes all the difference in living well with diabetes.

Though the narrative is great, it wouldn’t work nearly as well without Nick Bertozzi’s illustrations. His straightforward style is great for both technical and emotional moments, not too busy, not too showy, but with lots of energy and “pop” that moves the story, as it were, along. He could illustrate a layman’s guide to different kinds of dirt and I’d probably find it fascinating, honestly. Thankfully, diabetes is far more interesting than dirt.

In sum, Diabetes and Me is a great pairing of in-depth writing that’s not too technical for the average Joe to enjoy and illustrations that move things along at a fine clip. Though it’s written expressly for diabetic kids and would certainly be an invaluable resource for them, it’s a great read for anyone wanting to know even a bit about diabetes, regardless of age or pancreatic status.

Diabetes and Me
by Kim Chaloner
Art by Nick Bertozzi
ISBN: 9780809038718
Hill and Wang, 2013
Publisher Age Rating: 9-up

  • Emilia Packard

    Past Reviewer

    This reviewer is not longer actively working on our site, but we would not be here if not for our many dedicated contributors over the years. We thank all of them for their reviews, features, and support! Emilia has been reading graphic novels rabidly since her best friend handed her Craig Thompson’s Blankets over winter break during her sophomore year of college. From that day, her fate was sealed — at Grinnell College, she created, edited and drew strips for a student comics magazine called The Sequence. As an MLS Student at the University of Illinois, she spent way too much time filling up her backpack (and her roommate’s backpack) with the treasures of the Undergrad Library’s comics collection — never less than 40 books at a time. Just in the past few years, she’s worked at libraries and archives in Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, Indiana, and Austin, Texas and consumed their graphic novels collections with great gusto. She has been drawing her stick-figure avatar, Flippy-Do, since she was about 10 years old.

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