Thursday, April 25, 2013

Review: A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon

I think about classics all the time.  What makes them classic?  Who chooses it?  What makes it different from all the other books out there?

I love David Shannon.  He celebrates individuality.  His characters can be flawed. They get into trouble, but ultimately end up being well loved and appreciated for things we find so entertaining about them.

"A Bad Case of the Stripes" is a book about being different and learning to be okay with that.  We live in a society that targets anything that stands out.  Being different or unusual has to be hidden from others. Having a notion, like liking something unpopular, has silenced many a child from  voicing their true opinion.  Group rule, peer pressure are deciding our tastes.  Little Camilla has trouble making up her mind.  She can't seem to even pick a dress for first day, or  share the fact that she loves lima beans. She won't eat them for fear of ridicule.

Starting with the possibility of that her affinity for lima beans may make her different, she begins to turn strange colors and when she goes to school, finds herself being teased.
The story gets bigger and scarier, Camilla's colors get wilder, new shapes appear.  Nobody seems to know what's wrong with her.  An old lady comes by and serves her lima beans, and she is cured.

The old woman says "I knew the real you was in there somewhere."  

So, when you chose not to be the real you, know that you may become something unrecognizable and even, unlikable.  So in the end, it's better to embrace your differences than try to hide them.  They will somehow always make their presence known.

Though it's for ages 4-7, I would read it to an older crowd.  It's a valuable lesson, but I admit I found it  slightly alarming for a child who may not understand.

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