cover image A Bad Case of Stripes

A Bad Case of Stripes

David Shannon. Blue Sky Press (AZ), $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-590-92997-4

On this disturbing book's striking dust jacket, a miserable Betty-Boop-like girl, completely covered with bright bands of color, lies in bed with a thermometer dangling from her mouth. The rainbow-hued victim is Camilla Cream, sent home from school after some startling transformations: ""when her class said the Pledge of Allegiance, she turned red, white, and blue, and she broke out in stars!"" Scientists and healers cannot help her, for after visits from ""an old medicine man, a guru, and even a veterinarian... she sprouted roots and berries and crystals and feathers and a long furry tail."" The paintings are technically superb but viscerally troubling--especially this image of her sitting in front of the TV with twigs and spots and fur protruding from her. The doe-eyed girl changes her stripes at anyone's command, and only nonconformity can save her. When she finally admits her unspeakable secret--she loves lima beans--she is cured. Shannon (How Georgie Radbourn Saved Baseball) juggles dark humor and an anti-peer-pressure message. As her condition worsens, Camilla becomes monstrous, ultimately merging with the walls of her room. The hallucinatory images are eye-popping but oppressive, and the finale--with Camilla restored to her bean-eating self--brings a sigh of relief. However, the grotesque images of an ill Camilla may continue to haunt children long after the cover is closed. Ages 5-9. (Mar.)