A Bad Case of Stripes'


November 24, 1999|By David Shannon

Editor's note: Camilla Cream loved lima beans. But she never ate them. All of her friends hated lima beans, and she wanted to fit in. Camilla was always worried about what other people thought of her.

Today she was fretting even more than usual. It was the first day of school, and she couldn't decide what to wear. There were so many people to impress! She tried on forty-two outfits, but none seemed quite right. She put on a pretty red dress and looked in the mirror. Then she screamed.

Her mother ran into the room, and she screamed, too. "Oh my heavens!" she cried. "You're completely covered with stripes!"

This was certainly true. Camilla was striped from head to toe. She looked like a rainbow.

"You get back in bed this instant," her mother ordered. "You're not going to school today."

That afternoon, Dr. Bumble came to examine Camilla. "Most extraordinary!" he exclaimed. "I've never seen anything like it. Are you having any coughing, sneezing, runny nose, aches, pains, chills, hot flashes, dizziness, drowsiness, shortness of breath, or uncontrollable twitching?"

"No," Camilla told him. "I feel fine."

"Well then," Dr. Bumble said, turning to Mrs. Cream, "I don't see any reason why she shouldn't go to school tomorrow."

The next day was a disaster. Everyone at school laughed at Camilla. They called her "Camilla Crayon" and "Night of the Living Lollipop." She tried her best to act as if everything were normal, but when the class said the Pledge of Allegiance, her stripes turned red, white, and blue, and she broke out in stars!

The other kids thought this was great. One yelled out, "Let's see some purple polka dots!" Sure enough, Camilla turned all purple polka-dotty. Someone else shouted, "Checkerboard!" and a pattern of squares covered her skin. Soon everyone was calling out different shapes and colors, and poor Camilla was changing faster than you can change channels on a T.V.

The Creams were swamped with all kinds of remedies from psychologists, allergists, herbalists, nutritionists, psychics, an old medicine man, a guru, and even a veterinarian. Each so-called cure only added to poor Camilla's strange appearance until it was hard to even recognize her. She sprouted roots and berries and crystals and feathers and a long furry tail. But nothing worked.

"What are we going to do?" cried Mrs. Cream. "It just keeps getting worse and worse!" she began to sob.

At that moment, Mr. Cream heard a quiet little knock at the front door. He opened it, and there stood an old woman who was just as plump and sweet as a strawberry.

"Excuse me," she said brightly. "But I think I can help."

She went into Camilla's room and looked around. "My goodness," she said with a shake of her head. "What we have here is a bad case of stripes. One of the worst I've ever seen!" She pulled a container of small green beans from her bag. "Here," she said. "These might do the trick."

"Are those magic beans?" asked Mrs. Cream.

"Oh my, no," replied the kind old woman. "There's no such thing. These are just plain old lima beans. I'll bet you'd like some, wouldn't you?" she asked Camilla.

Camilla wanted a big, heaping plateful of lima beans more than just about anything, but she was still afraid to admit it.

"Wait!" she cried. "The truth is ... I really love lima beans."

"I thought so," the old woman said with a smile. She took a handful of beans and popped them into Camilla's mouth.

"Mmmm," said Camilla.

Suddenly the branches, feathers, and squiggly tails began to disappear. Then the whole room swirled around. When it stopped, there stood Camilla, and everything was back to normal.

"I'm cured!" she shouted.

Afterward, Camilla wasn't quite the same. Some of the kids at school said she was weird, but she didn't care a bit. She ate all the lima beans she wanted, and she never had even a touch of stripes again.

From A BAD CASE OF STRIPES by David Shannon. Published by Blue Sky Press, an imprint of Scholastic Inc. Copyright (copyright symbol) 1998 by David Shannon. Used by permission.

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