I discovered A Very Bad Case of Stripes last week during my mall/bookstore date with Jia two weeks ago. I loved it sooo much that even though I was in a self-imposed moratorium on book buying, I still bought it. The story (written and illustrated by David Shannon) was about a girl, Camilla Cream, who loved lima beans but did not eat them because she was very worried about what her classmates would think of her (everybody hated lima beans, you know! *rolleyes*). As the story opened, it was Camilla’s first day of school and she was having a hard time choosing her clothes for the day. She tried on 42 outfits (yes, 42!) because “there were so many people to impress!” While trying on the clothes, she looked at the mirror and screamed – she was covered in stripes! Her skin was striped from head to toe! What’s worse, when she went to school, her skin changed colors/patterns to whatever her classmates wanted it to be. It was as if her skin, just like her, cared so much about what other people thought and just followed the trend.
The rest of the story was about how the experts tried to “cure” Camilla and what finally got rid of her stripes (well, by then she was not just covered in stripes – she was covered in everything imaginable! :-/ ).
Here is the story as narrated by Sean Astin*:
I made it a point to read this to Jia (I seldom read to her now because she likes reading by herself) so we could discuss it after. We discussed how, for other people, fitting in is so important that they pretend to be someone they are not and do just about anything to feel accepted. I asked her if she cared what other people thought of her and she replied that she did not because, and I quote, “Those are their thoughts and I cannot change them”. I was bursting with pride! I pray that this translates this to a to-hell-with-them attitude towards bullies and haters if the need arises in the future. In the meantime, I will continue reading this to her and talking to her about just being herself.
*Thank you to Liv for the video link.