Book Review By: Christina Kowalski

Biographical Data:

  • ISBN-13: 9780590929974
  • Author and Illustrator: David Shannon
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/1/1998
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years

A Bad Case of Stripes is a children’s story that explores the importance of being yourself. In this book, Camilla Cream, the main character, is a young, popular girl who is far too concerned with the opinions of her peers and always wants to impress them. Oddly enough, she loves Lima beans but never eats them for fear that her fellow classmates will laugh at her. Then one day, the strangest thing happens to her, she begins to break out in stripes! That’s right; from head to toe she is covered with colorful horizontal stripes. The following day when she finally goes to school, she becomes the laughing stock of the school. As her peers called her hurtful names, Camilla would turn the shapes and colors that they shouted. Her skin turned a bright shade of purple polka dots and the colors and patterns of the American flag during the pledge of allegiance. Her parents brought in specialists to try to figure out what was ailing her. They poked and prodded but she just kept changing. Finally, when her case of stripes had gotten out of control, a little old lady thought she had the answer. After feeding Camilla some Lima beans she magically turned back into her normal self in no time. Camilla learned that it didn't matter what everyone else thought of her and that she should just be herself, even if that means eating Lima beans, a food that not many people like.

A Bad Case of Stripes has always been one of my most favorite children’s books growing up. It explores an important life lesson in a fun and goofy way for kids. What I always noticed about it is that its right on the boarder of scary but not enough to make a child cringe and have nightmares from it. The scariness of it lies within the concept of what could hypothetically happen to you if you care too much about what other people think of you. I thought it was a creative way to effectively get the message across to kids that they should just be themselves and disregard what others think of them. I have read this book to my neighbors countless times and they never fail to be captivated by its creative plot and illustrations. I would highly recommend this book to children of all ages. It forces them to use a higher level of thinking to dig a little deeper for the plot’s meaning.

Analysis of a literary Element:
One of the most striking aspects about David Shannon’s books is his vivid and expressive illustrations. A Bad Case of Stripes is filled with many different reactions from peers, family, doctors and the community regarding Camilla Cream’s oddly changing appearance. With that being said, the importance of the illustrations in capturing this expression is crucial to the book’s effectiveness and message delivery. His images are colorful and large, and usually cover an entire page. What I have noticed children love most about his illustrations is the fact that they are packed with detail. Even when I have read it to children who are not yet at the book’s reading level, they have never gotten bored looking at the pictures on each page and could gaze at them for hours. In addition, the images make it easier for the reader to clarify exactly what the author is describing when explaining what Camilla looks like. I truly believe that in this case, the illustrations are what make the story so great. Without them, the story would fall flat and the length of it would get too long to hold a young child’s attention through the end of it.

About the Author:
The author of A Bad Case of Stripes, David Shannon has written over thirty children’s books. He is more well known for his creation of the children’s picture book called NO, DAVID!, which received a Caldecott Honor Book award as well as a New York Times, Best Illustrated Book of the Year Award. This was the first ever book he wrote at the young age of five. He was born on October 5th, 1960 in Washington, D.C. and was raised in Spokane, Washington. He graduated from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California with a B. A. He is most well-known for his stunning artwork in the illustrations of his books which can especially be seen in this book, A Bad Case of Stripes.

Related links:
Have the story read to you and follow along with this link to a YouTube video: