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.
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!