One of my favourite ways to introduce a new concept to my students was to find a funny, appealing story. One of my best finds was A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon. I used this tale about the problems Camilla Cream encounters as she prepares for the first day of school to ease the back to school, new class and new people anxieties that surfaced many Septembers. Poor Camilla worries terribly about what others thinks of her and her anxiety results in one strange skin condition after another and of course the parents, school staff, and endless team of doctors can’t solve her problem.
The colourful, somewhat retro looking illustrations perfectly show the endless miseries Camilla is suffering and the facial expressions shown by the characters help us understand how both Camilla, her parents, classmates and experts are feeling. It is the kind of book that took a while to read aloud as we all had to have a good look at the pictures and even stop for discussions along the way. This turned out to be a great book for the first day of school, and it was one that was in high demand in the class library.
That’s not the only reason I loved this book though, the other reason is that it introduced me to David Shannon’s work and I began to look for other stories I could share. My favourite is one that I often used when we were suffering cabin fever after too many ‘indoor recess’ sessions. No David is about a little boy who finds endless opportunities to elicit the words ‘No David’ from an exasperated mother. David’s misadventures are never described with words, instead Shannon uses colourful, amusing illustrations to show how David finds himself in trouble.
Don’t you think that the illustrations actually look like they were drawn by a child? The illustrations make the story even more appealing to young readers. The lack of text also helps young readers enjoy the book on their own.
There are several David books that describe his trouble at school and other places and now there are even board books about David for the very young. If you are looking for something to appeal to a child who might be feeling a bit targeted as others try to correct certain behaviours, (or if you feel like you are saying NO too often) David Shannon is an author you might look for as I often found his expressively illustrated, funny stories helpful when the word NO was being overused.