44 pages 1 hour read

Megan Wagner Lloyd, Illustr. Michelle Mee Nutter


Fiction | Graphic Novel/Book | Middle Grade | Published in 2021

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Summary and Study Guide


Allergic is a middle-grade graphic novel written by Megan Wagner Lloyd and illustrated by Michelle Mee Nutter. It was published in 2021 by Scholastic and is a work of realistic fiction. Lloyd has written numerous picture books for children, while Nutter’s work has been recognized by numerous groups including the Society of Illustrators. This book tells the story of a fifth-grade girl who wants nothing more than to adopt a puppy, but when she and her family go to adopt a dog, she learns that she has a severe allergy to animals with fur or feathers. Throughout the novel, Maggie must overcome numerous challenges, which include learning about her allergies, learning how to treat them, getting acquainted with a new school, and accepting that her mother is going to have another baby.

This guide refers to the 2021 Scholastic paperback edition.

Plot Summary

Maggie Wilson, who lives in modern-day California, wakes up on her birthday. It’s. a special birthday because her parents have agreed to let her adopt a puppy. She has always wanted a pet because she wants someone in her home who needs her more than anyone else. After getting out of bed, Maggie joins the rest of her family. Her mother is doing pregnancy yoga, her two brothers are playing, and her father is making pancakes. Pancakes are a birthday tradition in their family.

After breakfast, it’s time for the family to go to the shelter to find a puppy. While Maggie’s parents warn her that they might not find the right dog in the first place they go, Maggie instantly falls in love with a puppy. As she and her family complete the adoption paperwork, however, Maggie experiences a severe allergic reaction. She thinks she might be getting sick, and her parents tell the people at the agency that they’ll return for the dog when Maggie feels better.

Maggie spends that night with bandages and an ice pack, feeling miserable. The next day, her mother takes her to an allergist. The doctor performs allergy tests on Maggie and discovers that she’s severely allergic to numerous animals with feathers or fur. They can’t test for all animals, but since she had a severe reaction to all those tested, the doctor tells her mom that she shouldn’t be around any animals with either feathers or fur. This means that they can’t adopt the puppy. The allergist says that people can have allergic reactions to even “hypoallergenic” dogs. Maggie is heartbroken.

At first, she tries to find another solution. She makes a list of pets without fur or feathers, and her parents agree to let her try these as pets. She investigates numerous animals like turtles, frogs, and fish but finds none satisfactory. Things get even worse on her first day at her new school when her teacher introduces the class pet: a guinea pig. Despite her best attempts to hold back, Maggie can’t stop sneezing. Her mother later calls the school, and the guinea pig is moved to a different classroom. Maggie tries to take matters into her own hands and sneaks a mouse into her bedroom, thinking that a small furry pet may be fine. Although she doesn’t know it then, the mouse is pregnant and eventually has baby mice. She still struggles a lot with allergies, and eventually her parents find the mice and make her return them to the pet store.

Learning that she has a severe allergy isn’t the only change in Maggie’s life. She has started attending a new school because of zoning changes in the school district, and, unfortunately, none of her friends will be attending her new school. Eventually, a boy named Sebastian befriends her. He loves science and learning, and he knows a lot about allergies because he has an egg allergy and his sister has a bee-sting allergy. The two learn from each other and become good friends. Meanwhile, a new girl named Claire moves in next door to Maggie. She’s a grade older, but the two quickly become best friends. Their friendship has challenges, however, because Maggie gets jealous of Claire sometimes, especially when Claire adopts a puppy. The two have their ups and downs but are best friends again by the novel’s end.

The other major change that Maggie confronts is a new sibling. For most of the novel, she dreads the birth of the baby. She already feels left out in her family and thinks a new baby will make it even worse. Eventually, the baby is born, and it’s a girl. Maggie suggests the name June, and her parents love it. In the last chapter, Maggie and June spend a lot of time together, and Maggie gets her wish to be special to someone at the end of the novel when June toddles into Maggie’s room, calling her name. The two develop a strong bond.

Maggie starts out the novel self-centered and shows very little empathy toward others. She has strong emotions and has trouble reining them in sometimes. As the novel progresses, however, she learns to have empathy and compassion, and she also learns that change isn’t necessarily bad. She has changed her goal of becoming a veterinarian to becoming a marine biologist. This would allow her to still work with animals but only with those that she isn’t allergic to.