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From the PublisherStephanie Zvirin (Booklist, January 1 & 15, 1998 (Vol. 94, No. 9 & 10))
Camilla, who loves lima beans but won't eat them because it's not cool, finds that deferring to others isn't all it's cracked up to be. In fact, her desire to please and be popular causes her some spectacular problems: she suddenly breaks out in stripes, then stars, then turns "purple polka-dotty" at the behest of a delighted classmate. Her weird mutations, which stymie doctors and send the media into a frenzy, become more and more extreme until she finally blends into the walls of her room--her lips the red-blanketed mattress on her bed, her eyes the paintings on the wall. Will she never be herself again? Shannon's over-the-top art is sensational, an ingenious combination of the concrete and the fantastic that delivers more than enough punch to make up for the somewhat heavy hand behind the story, and as usual, his wonderfully stereotypic characters are unforgettable. The pictures are probably enough to attract young browsers (Camilla in brilliant stripped glory graces the jacket), and the book's irony and wealth of detail may even interest readers in higher grades. Try this for leading into a discussion on being different. Category: For the Young. 1998, Scholastic/Blue Sky,
Horn Book (Horn Book Guide, Fall 1998)
A girl obsessed with what people think about her contracts an ailment that literally turns her into whatever anyone--classmates, doctors, etc.--decides she should be. The story is heavy-handed, but the girl's graphically depicted symptoms, from multicolored stripes to twigs and other spiny appendages protruding from her body, contribute to the dark comedy of the retro-style paintings. Category: Fiction. 1998, Scholastic, 32pp. Ages 5 to 9. Rating: 4: Recommended, with minor flaws.
Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, 1998)
Camilla Cream wants to fit in, so she conforms, denying herself the things she craves--lima beans, for example--if the other kids frown upon them. She wakes up one morning covered head to toe with party-colored stripes--not the state of affairs aspired to by a conventionalist, but it's only the beginning of her troubles. Her schoolmates call out designs and Camilla's skin reacts: polka dots, the American flag--"poor Camilla was changing faster than you could change channels on a T.V." Specialists are called in, as are experts, healers, herbalists, and gums. An environmental therapist suggests she "breathe deeply, and become one with your room." Camilla melts into the wall. It takes a little old lady with a handful of lima beans to set Camilla to rights. Shannon's story is a good poke in the eye of conformity--imaginative, vibrant, and at times good and spooky--and his emphatic, vivid artwork keeps perfect pace with the tale. 1998, Blue Sky/Scholastic, $15.95. Starred Review. © 1998 Kirkus Reviews/VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.
Pat Mathews (The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, March 1998 (Vol. 51, No. 7))
Camilla Cream "was always worried about what other people thought of her." She secretly loves lima beans and doesn't want her food fetish to ruin her popularity with her lima-bean-hating friends. Things quickly take an odd turn when Camilla gets a really weird disease. Initially she breaks out in rainbow stripes (but it gets weirder) and finally ends up turning into whatever the people around her suggest ("An Environmental Therapist claimed she could cure Camilla. 'Close your eyes,' she said. 'Breathe deeply, and become one with your room.' 'I wish you hadn't said that,' Camilla groaned"). Kids will giggle and gasp at the story of peer pressure run amok as one zany scene outdoes the other (Camilla's transformation into her bedroom, with mattresses for lips, is uniquely strange and very funny). The exaggerated, solid, puppet-like characters who encounter Camilla's chameleon ways are comically appropriate to this droll take on being true to oneself, and the