Prather’s Pick: A book about germs |

Prather’s Pick: A book about germs

Diane Prather
Diane Prather

A teacher at heart, I’m always on the lookout for young adult and children’s books that can be used with the classroom curriculum. This week’s picture book, intended for ages 4 to 8, is an example.

The main character of “Sick Simon” is Simon, a kid with a cold. Simon knows that he’s sick when he wakes up on Monday morning. Author/illustrator Dan Krall has exaggerated the size of Simon’s nose and the “gunk” that’s dripping from it, too. Simon’s face is covered with red blotches, and there’s a greenish-yellow cloud around his head. Simon is contagious. He looks rough — even disgusting.

Simon knows he’s sick, but he doesn’t care. He gets ready for the best week of school ever. At breakfast, Simon’s family watches grumpily. It isn’t easy to look at all of that nasty stuff hanging from his nose. The family dog looks like he’s going to throw up.

While Simon is on the school bus he gets sick to his stomach, but at least he barfs through an open window. It isn’t a pleasant experience for the other kids, though. Some of them run down the bus aisle. Another holds her stomach. At school, Simon happily gets off the bus, followed by his unhappy bus-mates. The teacher is greeting kids in front of the school, and one look at Simon’s drippy nose is enough to change their smiles to frowns.

During math, Simon sneezes an unbelievable stream of germs right over the class. He’s unpopular with the students during show-and-tell and during snack time. Even Mr. Warbles, the class chinchilla, stands back. So the week moves along, the teacher and students are looking a little droopy themselves, and by Thursday there’s a note on the white board. Ms. Slowinski is out sick. There’s a substitute teacher and the desk and only two kids in the room — Simon and another. Nobody shows up for the big game on Friday.

Simon is the only kid on the school bus when he goes home. However, there are three other characters on the bus — Virus, Protozoa, and Bacteria. Simon is their Germ Hero, and they tell him why. Simon learns a lot. There’s a little twist at the end of the book.

Sally Beauchamp, Children’s Librarian at the Moffat County Library, says that she read this book to kids during story hour. I’m not sure what kind of activity the kids did following the reading, but I can think of lots of things that parents or teachers might have kids do after hearing the story. For example, they might make posters with messages about ways to prevent the spread of germs. They could investigate germs (microorganisms), too, using borrowed microscopes to study the organisms from prepared slides. Kids might enjoy making their own board games, designed to “knock out” germs or write poems with messages about staying healthy. They could make their own “art” germs, too.

This is a great book. It’s funny, and through Simon’s story, kids can learn a lot about the way colds and other illnesses are passed around and ways that people can keep from getting sick.

Dan Krall is a development artist and art director in animated television and film as well as an author and illustrator. “Sick Simon” is published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (2015). It can be purchased in hardcover for $17.99 or you can find it at the Moffat County Library.

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