|The Side-Effects Kid was inspired by my own struggles with
environmental illness and allergies. Although the story is written in the style of a
children's chapter book, it was never meant to be exclusively for children. I chose this
particular format in order to talk about broader issues that were not accepted in
traditional writing. I wrote it partly as a fantasy, and partly as an autobiography.
a child I reacted to every new product that entered our house, even though all other
family members were immune. Years later my son was born chemically sensitive and
hospitalized at the age of two with toxic seizures from the chemicals in our municipal
water supply. I tried to start a crusade to alert the community to the contamination in
our ground water, but I found no listeners. In frustration I returned to writing &
illustrating, and expanding my essays and short stories into a children's manuscript.
Once realizing that illnesses and allergies are a form of a language, my life took a
turn. The environment speaks through symptoms and exposes unseen layers. By learning this
language you can live in harmony with the environment, regain health, and solve many
- Janell Hanson