a bad case of stripes

a bad case of stripes

a bad case of stripes


When our daughters were in elementary school,

I was the Reading Is Fundamental coordinator for 5 years.

It was a book lover’s dream to be surrounded by boxes of books,

selecting and ordering enough books to distribute to the students

three times during the school year.

One year during Read Across America Day (Dr. Seuss’ birthday),

each classroom had a guest reader or two come to read a personal favorite.

I was asked to read in Carlen’s 5th grade class.

That year, the 5th grade had endured an extremely traumatic event.

But Carlen’s class in particular was impacted greatly.

This group of kids were definitely exhibiting all the normal  preteen

attitudes and behaviors but heightened by their grief and loss of control.

They had a tendency to lash out at each other and most assuredly

the adults in their lives.

I remember sitting on a stool in front of the class and beginning to read

A Bad Case of Stripes.

At first there were a few rolled eyes and sighs suggesting I was treating them

like children and not accounting for their advanced age.

Within a few pages and laying their eyes on the illustrations and you could

hear the proverbial pin drop.

They were lost in the world of Camilla Cream and her inability to think for herself

and be true to her identity.

When I read the last page and asked the class

their take away from the book,

hands rapidly shot up to the ceiling and without waiting to be called on,

a girl, who played softball with Carlen, said that it reminded her to be true

to herself and not to try to be someone she is not.

As soon as her words were uttered and acknowledged by her nodding

classmates and a beaming teacher,

the bell rang and dozens of feet took flight to the halls

and beyond.

I breathed a silent prayer that maybe life didn’t have to go back

to normal for each of those precious 5th graders.

Perhaps in the face of tragedy,

they could grieve,

continue to live and most of all,

they could stay true to how each of them

had been wonderfully made..

stripes or no stripes.
This post is apart of the 31 days…yet again series
about books. You can find the entire series here.

3 thoughts on “a bad case of stripes

  1. Helen,

    Excellent as always. You have a very special gift that you should share with more people. Since you love books so much, similarly to your mother, what would it take for you to become a reading specialist? You need to share this gift more globally.



    “How old would you be, if you didn’t know how old you was?”

    Satchel Paige

    PPlease consider the environment before printing this email.

    Kindly delete all email addresses from this email before forwarding it, and place new addresses in the Bcc tab slot.

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    Liked by 1 person

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