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Cancer is a C Word

by (author) Sunita Pal

illustrated by Cody Andreasen

Rebel Mountain Press
Initial publish date
Oct 2020
Arts Education, Career Education, English Language Arts, Physical and Health Education
Grade Levels
k to 3
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2020
    List Price

Where to buy it

Descriptive Review

A young boy is at home with his family when they receive an upsetting phone call. Overhearing the unfamiliar word “cancer,” he questions the meaning of this “C” word that he sees causing sadness. His parents explain the disease to him in simple terms that he can understand. Short segments of rhyming text and full-page colour illustrations provide general information about the illness, including causes, types, effects (including possible “passing away”), and treatments. After making reference to “C” words associated with the disease (for example, "cancer cells" and "chemotherapy"), the boy’s parents point out that there are other important “C” words associated with ways of supporting cancer patients. The words “community,” “coming together,” and “caring” appear in bold in the text and are exemplified through illustrations. Written for a young audience, this book provides a glossary with basic definitions of some of the terms used in the text.

36 pp., 9 × 10", colour illustrations

Source: Association of Book Publishers of BC - BC Books for Schools (2021-2022)

About the authors

Aside from being a writer, Sunita is also an experienced elementary school teacher in Toronto, Ontario. For almost 2 decades, she has taught from Kindergarten to Grade 2 and has even served as school librarian, so she is well versed in what makes for an enjoyable read for the little ones. She also believes in the importance of educating these same little ones on serious subject matters in a meaningful way that is easy for them to understand.

Sunita Pal's profile page

Cody Andreasen is a teacher and artist from Calgary, Alberta. Cody attended the Alberta University of the Arts (formerly ACAD) where he received a BFA in Drawing and the University of Calgary where he received a Bachelor of Education degree. Cody enjoys working in a variety of visual styles including comic books and (recently) puppets. In addition to his art, Cody enjoys making other things, such as his four children whom he created in close collaboration with his wife.

Cody Andreasen's profile page

Excerpt: Cancer is a C Word (by (author) Sunita Pal; illustrated by Cody Andreasen)

But how do people get this word that starts with a C?
Wait a minute! Can they spread their cancer to me?!

Don't worry, cancer isn't contagious: It doesn't spread.
It's not like a cold, so put that out of your head.

Our bodies are made up of very tiny things called cells.
Cancer happens when these cells are not working very well.

Bad cells stop healthy ones from doing what they should do.
They join together and may form a lump that causes problems too.

This is a lot of information, but please don't worry.
Instead, let us tell you of some other words that also start with C.

There is a special one called community.
A community forms when people come together in times of need.
They are kind to one another, helpful, and do lots of good deeds.

Cooking is another C word and a good way to help boost someone's mood.
If someone is feeling sick you can help by bringing their family some food.

Coming together also starts with C and is so important, son.
Making sure people know you are there for them, they are not alone and not the only one.

Editorial Reviews

"A young boy learns about cancer [and] keeps hearing an unfamiliar word that starts with the letter C. He knows that it makes people sad, but he doesn't know what it is. His parents explain that it is a disease from which "some get better, but, sadly, some may pass away." He then goes on to ask other adults in his life--his teacher, other relatives--the multitude of questions swirling in his head. Why can't they just take medicine to get better? Is it contagious?... The touching twist is that the family goes on to gather other words that start with C that can help someone struggling with cancer, such as community and cuddling. Andreasen's [illustrator] definitively outlined characters don't shy away from showing such side effects as hair loss or amputation. The patients are also all different ages and races, stamping out any stereotypical ideas. This gentle educational primer on a tough topic pushes through fear and lands on love." -Kirkus Reviews

"The language, tone and general are well-suited to the intended age group. The discussion of other powerful words beginning with C that help cancer patients on their road to recovery is a valuable inclusion. It recognizes the human desire to help and provides children with a sense of empowerment should they have a friend or family member with the illness. These words include Community, Cooking, Coming together, Cuddling. and Caring. Like the disease that does not discriminate between age or race, the expressive illustrations depict characters who represent various cultures and ages...Despite the difficulty of the topic, Cancer is a C Word will certainly assist adults, such as teachers, parents, and medical workers who are caring for children, to gently explain the concepts of the disease without creating undue fear. Highly Recommended."Canadian Review of Materials

"Cancer is a 'C' Word invites readers, young and old, to discover the many other 'C' words that support wellness. Community, Caring and Coming Together come alive in images that celebrate diversity. Teachers, counsellors, and parents will welcome the honest, thoughtful presentation made available through rhyme to support young people coping with cancer in their lives. A sensitive, helpful book." -Tracy Myers, Children's Counsellor

"As a school teacher/librarian, I appreciate the diversity of families/individuals used to convey the story. Author, Sunita Pal, explains a scary topic and gives children an uplifting message. The illustrations are fascinating and vibrant."-Leslie Bell, teacher/librarian

"This book is not only a much needed educational tool, it also tells a story that is very relatable to many. The author helps guide a challenging conversation within families and does so in such an age-appropriate manner. She strikes a balance between giving readers enough information to digest a difficult topic, while simultaneously providing them with reassurance and focusing on the positive."-Muzna Ahmad, MD

"Cancer is just another C word. Told through gentle rhyme, this book is ideal for both adults and children to develop understanding of what cancer is and how to start the conversation. Both practical and reassuring."-Marilyn MacPherson, librarian

"Cancer is a C Word creates a wonderful dialogue that does not shy away from the scariness of cancer, yet helps the reader to gain some power over the disease by thinking differently about it. This book is not only for our children that are touched by this disease but is for those that want to introduce caring and compassion into their children's life."-Lily Robertson, author