Liza Ketchum author educator
Allergic to My Family
Kirby Hollow Press, 2014
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Allergic to My Family


About the Book

When Rosie Maxwell, age nine, discovers her family will soon expand from five kids to six, she explodes. “No one has that many kids anymore!” After Clara is born, Rosie’s parents are too busy to notice that the family is crazier than ever: Silas, age four, can’t talk, even though his twin sister Katie always knows what he wants. Dan, the family bookworm, has a habit of disappearing. Bossy Shirley lives on the phone, even in a crisis, and Clara can’t do much except cry and mess her diaper. Clearly, it’s up to Rosie to fix things but somehow, all her efforts make matters worse. Then a brush fire roars into Copper Canyon, threatening the Maxwell’s home. That’s when everyone learns to appreciate Rosie’s spunk, imagination, and gift for gymnastics—and when Rosie, now a hero, discovers she fits into her unusual family after all.


“[Ketchum] deftly builds a consistent picture of this entire lively family in three amusing, self-contained episodes, then tells a satisfyingly suspenseful story about how her well-established characters cope with the fire. Welcome, Maxwells! Come back soon.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“In the gripping conclusion Rosie unexpectedly and courageously puts her talent to use, finally earning her family’s respect... [Ketchum’s] depiction of this boisterous, peculiar brood will captivate readers... Rosie’s character is imbued with particular spirit and insight.” (Publisher’s Weekly)

“Rosie is a spirited and funny heroine, and her antics are completely believable. [Ketchum] has captured the injured and indignant feelings of a harassed nine-year-old with great sympathy and humor. Rosie is sure to be popular with preteen readers.” (Booklist)

Indeed, as one enthusiastic teen wrote to the author, “I wish you would write another book about Rosie. I think it would help a lot of preteen girls with their lives.”

Behind the Book

FAQ: What inspired you to write this story?

When I lived in California, I met a big family who left one of their children at the beach by mistake. I also witnessed a canyon fire like the one in the story. Years later, I wrote a picture book about a child who was forgotten at the beach. My editor said, “This isn’t a picture book—it’s a novel!” I started to hear Rosie’s voice in my head, and pretty soon I was writing the scenes that became her story.

FAQ: Did you come from a big family, too?

No, but I lived for many years in a New York suburb surrounded by big families. It always seemed as if they had more fun than I did! Many of the scenes in the book are inspired by memories of my own childhood, by stories I’ve heard from other parents, and by the antics of my five nieces and nephews.
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