On A Bad Case of Stripes

Today’s book is one that I have almost recommended several times. In each instance, there was one thing that stopped me…and that thing is the sheer terror that my 5-year-old experienced as a result of reading this book. She found the book quite worrying and even had trouble falling asleep a few nights after we read it. Truth. And to be honest, once you see this book, you might understand why. The art is fantastic. It is so fantastic that you might even say it’s…haunting. I have gushed about David Shannon’s artwork before on my blog here, and will gush yet again this week. It. Is. Amazing. Now, back to my traumatized child. Fast-forward almost a year. We read the book again, and she is completely fascinated. She proceeds to ask question after question about what exactly is happening to Miss Camilla Cream, the main character in the book. And after reading it, she says, totally unprompted…”I guess Camilla learned that she should just be herself and not worry about what everyone else was thinking.” wow….yeah! So here it is, in all of its nightmare-inducing glory, this week’s Perfect Picture Book… A BAD CASE OF STRIPES.



  • Written and Illustrated By: David Shannon
  • Published By: The Blue Skye Press, March 1, 1998
  • Suitable For: Ages 6 and up
  • Topics/Themes: Individuality, Peer Pressure, Learning to be Yourself
  • Opening: “Camilla Cream loved lima beans. But she never ate them. All of her friends hated lima beans, and she wanted to fit in. Camilla was always worried about what other people thought of her.”
  • Synopsis: (from Amazon) Camilla Cream loves lima beans, but she never eats them. Why? Because the other kids in her school don”t like them. And Camilla Cream is very, very worried about what other people think of her. In fact, she’s so worried that she’s about to break out in… a bad case of stripes!
  • Resources: There are a plethora of resources available online for this book. Here are a few for you: Scholastic has a lesson plan that focuses on the worries children feel at school, and how this book addresses those worries. Parent and Child magazine takes a different bent, focusing on the idea of stripes. I especially loved the writing activities featured by webteaching.com. Pretend you are a reporter at Camilla’s house…what would your report look like? Pretend you are in Camilla’s class. How could you convince your classmates to not tease her?
  • Why I Like this Book: In the end, I am recommending this book because it covers a topic that every grade-schooler deals with, and I had a great conversation with my daughter because of it. If you are trained up in writing picture books, the overt moral in this story will more than likely set off your didactic sensors. But for me, sometimes a book like this is necessary…one where the issues it is addressing don’t have to be uncovered, drawn out, or massaged. The meaning of A BAD CASE OF STRIPES is right there in the opening lines, and if you have a child struggling with being themselves in the midst of a society where fitting in is the treasured goal, it is perfection. And if you have a child who is sensitive and fearful, this might be one to skip…at least for a while. You never know when fear will transform into fascination, and when it does, you’ll want to have a front-row seat.

Head on over to Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog to see what else made the list this week on Perfect Picture Book Friday!

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  • http://bildebok.wordpress.com/ Cathy Mealey

    I never made it to the end of the book because MY daughter was completely frightened and horrified.  Guess she fell onto that sensitive side of the spectrum.  Your review really hit home for me.

    • http://amydixonbooks.com/ Amy Dixon

       Hi Cathy! I’m sorry your daughter was frightened too. Maybe you’ll have to go back to it at some point and see what she thinks! Thanks so much for commenting.

  • Joanna Marple

    I find it scary myself, but I’m sure it’s a fit for certain kids. I like your review, as not every book is for every kid. 

    • http://amydixonbooks.com/ Amy Dixon

       Yes, Joanna. Head over to Amazon and check out the 1-star reviews. You are not alone!

  • http://susannahill.blogspot.com/ Susanna Leonard Hill

    Well, I haven’t read this book but after that review and Cathy’s agreement, I really have to!  As far as the message, I think it’s one my 15 year old daughter could benefit from… not joking!  Thanks for sharing this one, Amy, and for being honest about it’s potential to scare so that adults will preview it before sharing with their little ones!

    • http://amydixonbooks.com/ Amy Dixon

       It’s funny but as I was preparing this post, I read many reviews on amazon where parents were saying the same thing. They felt it was creepy. So it wasn’t just my kids!

  • http://grandmamiller.wordpress.com/ Laura Anne Miller

    So……maybe the age level should be upped a couple years??  It’s kind of a humorous, but not so funny backstory!  Is it the illustrations that tip the scale?  Now, I’m really intriqued.  As an illustrator and writer I think there may be a lesson we want to learn.  I would have been one of those kids w/nightmares.  Of course if they put a WARNING on the front – every kid would want to read it! :)

    • http://amydixonbooks.com/ Amy Dixon

       For my kids, yes, older was better. I think the publisher actually categorized it as 4-8 but I upped my age recommendation to 6.

  • Lj Mozdzierz

    I’ll have to check this one out. Thanks for the share!

    • http://amydixonbooks.com/ Amy Dixon

       Thanks for stopping by, Lj!

  • Patricia Tilton

    I love the idea about this book.  It’s a bit off-beat, and I like that.  I also like how you handled it with your daughter.  Will have to read it because I have a MS that to me is magical, imaginative and carries an important message about about, belief, love and sharing.  But, it also could stir up a little fear in a young child.  You’ve given me hope.

    • http://amydixonbooks.com/ Amy Dixon

       I say GO FOR IT, PAT!

  • http://storypatch.wordpress.com/ Carrie F

    I saw this the other day at the bookstore…maybe I’ll go back and see if they still have it. Thanks for the rec!

  • Jrzoch

    Great pick Amy – I like the way the straw is placed opposing the way the thermometer is on the cover –  such talent!

  • patientdreamer

    An interesting story, certainly gets its message across, and the cover certainly has you hooked.  Liked the way you handled it with your daughter, Amy.  

  • Kirsten Larson

    It’s interesting how different situations affect different children. Sometimes stripes — rather than monsters — are scary. This looks like a wonderful book. Hopefully, my son will not fear the stripes.

  • Stacy S. Jensen

    I’ll look for this title to study. Not for my son yet.