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Literature / A Bad Case of Stripes

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A Bad Case of Stripes is a children's book written by David Shannon.
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It centres around a young girl named Camilla Cream, who likes lima beans but is afraid to admit it. One day, she wakes up with stripes all over, which change into a different pattern every time something is suggested.

Doctors, scientists, and all sorts of people try to cure Camilla, but none of the attempts work, until it's revealed that the cure is... eating lima beans.


A Bad Case of Stripes provides examples of

  • Alliterative Name: Camilla Cream.
  • An Aesop: The book's moral is "don't hide your interests".
  • Be Yourself: The book has a moral about being true to yourself.
  • Body Horror: Yes, even in this kid-friendly book, Camilla suffers a pretty nightmarish one. Your skin changing colors is pretty bizarre enough, but it quickly escalates into a turn for the worst. As a couple of scientists are observing her and giving suggestions on what the "disease" could be, her body begin forming bacterial tentacles, viral puffballs, and fungal splotches. Later, she loses her legs and partially turns into a tree, and some more weird stuff starts protruding from her skin like feathers, tree branches, and crystals, and ends up looking like this in the end. She also turns into a massive pill at some point. Eventually, she finally transforms into an entire house, with all of this stuff still attached to her no less.
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  • Captain Obvious: The Specialists describe Camilla's symptoms as not being the measles, the mumps, chicken pox, or sunburn. Anyone who has any knowledge of those four things would know that it's most definitely neither.
  • Cool Old Lady: A little old woman is the one who saves the day and knows how to deal with cases of stripes.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Camilla's changing when things are suggested is symbolic of people "changing themselves" as a result of peer pressure.
  • Easily Embarrassed Youngster: The reason Camilla never eats lima beans is because she wants to fit in and she's described as often worrying about what other people think of her. After her stripes are cured, she becomes less easily embarrassed, though.
  • Edible Theme Naming:
    • Camilla's surname is "Cream".
    • The Experts are named Dr. Gourd and Mr. Mellon.
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  • Genius Loci: Just before getting cured, Camilla literally "becomes one with her room".
  • First Day of School Episode: At the beginning, it's Camilla's first day of school.
  • Involuntary Shapeshifting: Sometimes, Camilla inadvertently changes shape as well as colour, the first instance being when she turns into a pill after taking pills.
  • Labcoat of Science and Medicine: Dr. Bumble and "the Specialists" (four other doctors) all wear white lab coats.
  • No Name Given: The little old woman and the "environmental therapist" are unnamed.
  • The Last of These Is Not Like the Others: The Specialists conclude that Camilla's symptoms aren't mumps, measles, chicken pox, or sunburn, the latter of which is not a disease like the first three.
  • Nerd Glasses: Doctors Bumble, Grop, Sponge, Cricket, and Young all wear big glasses.
  • Noodle Incident: It's unknown how the failed cures gave Camilla feathers, branches, and a tail.
  • Shout-Out: Camilla's classmates call her "Night of the Living Lollipop", a reference to Night of the Living Dead.
  • The Shrink: Briefly mentioned when some psychologists come to help Camilla.
  • Space Whale Aesop: The moral is to be true to yourself and it's implied that Camilla's morphing and changing colour was a direct result of her not admitting she liked lima beans.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: When Camilla is claiming that nobody likes lima beans, she adds "especially me."
  • Stock "Yuck!": The reason Camilla is embarrassed about liking lima beans is because everyone else hates them.
  • Title Drop: Towards the end, the old lady says, "What we have here is a bad case of stripes!".
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Camilla's love for lima beans is a major plot point; it causes her insecurity and they're the cure for her stripes.
  • Transflormation: Downplayed. At one point, Camilla gets branches growing out of her.

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