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Monday, March 23, 2015

Sick Simon, written and illustrated by Dan Krall. Simon & Schuster, 2015. $21.99 ages 4 and up

"It was MONDAY!

Simon didn't care if
he had a cold. He was
ready for the best week
He kissed his family good
morning and had his 
favorite breakfast. He rode
the bus to school and had
fun the whole way."

It may have been more opportune to post this at the height of flu season. It may also have been just a bit too much while families and schools were dealing with the implications of spreading germs and for dealing with the outcomes.

As you can imagine before you even start to read, kids are going to love the gross cover image of Simon, green slime emanating from his nostrils and waves of germs surrounding him. He makes all the other kids run, and that is what will delight those who love distasteful fare in their picture books. You know they are out there!

Waking with his nose dripping green mucus doesn't bother Simon one tiny bit. He is ready for an awesome week at school. His father doesn't look much better. The kids on the bus do what they can to avoid him. (I love the little girl who looks as if she might be sick right along with him ... her face is a ghastly shade of olive). Simon's favorite place to be is school; obviously being sick is not going to hold him back.

Spreading his germs on Monday, he's back Tuesday to care for the class pet, share snacks and offer his toy bunny from home as a show-and-tell object to be passed from child to child. His classmates  are not eager to touch it ... who can blame them? By the end of the week, there is no other child on the kickball field, no one riding the bus with him ... wait, there are three talkative germs. (Have you noticed them before now?) Disgusted by them or not, you may want to go back and check. They have high praise for Simon; only then does he realize the error of his ways. Next week, with his new learning, school might be even better than Simon can anticipate.

There are many funny illustrations (also, disgusting) that will make those with weak stomachs blanch. Mostly, they will appreciated by Dan Krall's audience for just exactly that. The lesson taught is an important one, and done with humor and a light touch. Be sure it's on your bookshelf for the next time flu and cold season rolls around!

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