What is Cancer, Anyway?

What is Cancer coverWhat is Cancer, Anyway?: Explaining Cancer to Children of All Ages

Submitter: This book, designed to help children cope with cancer, is more confusing and just plain weird than anything I’ve seen in a long time. Also, WTF is up with that entity on the cover? It is blonde child with a skin condition? Is it a dog in a wig? Why is it wearing mascara?!

Holly: I don’t find the text in the excerpts pictured below to be particularly child-friendly. The vocabulary is pretty sophisticated. And yeah – weird anthropomorphism. When they’re too human it’s creepy, not cute.




  1. Oh wow. Barklay and Eve apparently have a whole series of books, which I will not be reading!

  2. Children of all ages, as long as they have an advanced vocabulary. At which point, just give them material from the teen or adult section, which won’t have weird drawings.

    I am really disturbed by the “art”. Why are dogs running a lab? How can the sometimes-bewigged pooch operate the microscope with paws? What unholy mad science created this creature?! *

    That’s all harder to explain than cancer and its treatment.

    * And what about Naomi?

    1. In a watered-down way, I agree. The samples aren’t as bad as some of what _she_ got to put out there, but then a sample size of n = 1 isn’t much. More? please(?)

  3. How would we know Eve was female if she didn’t have a wig??? How could children understand cancer if they were confused about a talking dog’s gender.

  4. To follow up though, Eve doesn’t have a wig in the other books in the series, which makes me wonder if this has something to do with some cancer patients wearing wigs after treatment caused hair loss? Which is just… I’m lost for words!

    1. Now that is weird. A human wig on a talking dog, possibly without explanation. Animals-as-humans in children’s books should be controversial, but not because the author/illustrator confused the adults.

  5. All the “humans” have ears that look as though they originated on other worlds.

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