Sylvia McNicoll: About Blue to the Sky

May 13, 2024

Blue to the Sky by Sylvia McNicollWelcome to Cantastic Authorpalooza, featuring posts by and about great Canadian children’s book creators! Today’s guest: Syliva McNicoll. Take it away, Sylvia!

Food allergies seem like a big bother when you can’t bring your favourite sandwich or have a special treat day at school. But how much bigger is the bother for the person who has the allergies. Imagine trusting people with your life every time you lift a spoon to your mouth.

And it’s one thing if you’re allergic to peanut butter; everyone’s used to that allergy by now, but sesame seeds, or at least possible traces of sesame, are in almost every slice of bread, hotdog or hamburger bun. What about multiple food allergies? When you’re allergic to eggs, milk, shellfish, sesame, tree nuts, peanuts or any other combination of foods. Do you never go to a sleepover or birthday party? Can you eat at a restaurant?

Multiple food allergies can be depressing. They can cause anxiety. They can make you lose your confidence.  All of this happened in my family. A happy outgoing athlete turned into a recluse who wouldn’t join team sports. A young person closed herself off after sneaking some peanut butter cookie crumbs. I also watched friends try to order safe meals in restaurants. Nobody really seems entirely sure about what goes into our food.

I wanted desperately to help. There’s only one way I know of how to fix a problem and that’s to find a book about it. Since I couldn’t find a story dealing with allergies, I knew I needed to write one.

What I wanted to show was this really amazing person living her best life dodging around her allergies. Twelve-year old Ella plays music in her head to suit all her emotions and she writes poetry, mostly rhyming poetry. But she wants to eat pizza.

Pizza Pizza

I wish I could eat ya

Your saucy aroma hangs in the air

But I can’t eat you; it’s not fair.


And she wants to own a dog.


A walking teddy bear

                                   Full of itch-inspiring hair.


She’s positive she can do these things. Her mother isn’t and doesn’t want to take risks.

Ella feel pretty positive, however, that she can’t present a speaking assignment in front of the class. Her legs turn into noodles, the words fly from her head. But when her best friend Zenia wants to climb CN Tower for World Wildlife Fund, Ella is there. This challenge she knows she can handle. Once you conquer one challenge, doesn’t the next one come easier?

Here’s the book trailer that shows how my favourite characters’ thoughts work: 


Did I solve the problem of food allergies? No, I think scientists will figure some kind or treatment and cure eventually. But Ella is being touted as one of the first characters with multiple allergies who isn’t a side joke; she’s a strong girl who can wield her own epi-pen.

Ella taught me about resilience. I learned that the way through a dark tunnel of problems is to have a passion for something bigger than those problems. Of course it always helps to surround yourself with friends who care.

To learn more about Sylvia McNicoll and her books, visit her website.

1 Comment on ‘Sylvia McNicoll: About Blue to the Sky’

  1. Great topic! Congrats Sylvia.

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