Monday, September 28, 2020

Review - Sick Simon

Sick Simon

by Dan Krall
Date: 2015
Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 48
Format: e-book
Source: library

Are germs gross, or great? Sick Simon learns how to be health-conscious during cold and flu season in this clever picture book from the author-illustrator of The Great Lollipop Caper.

Simon is going to have the best week ever. Who cares if he has a cold? He goes to school anyway, and sneezes everywhere, and coughs on everyone, and touches everything.

Germs call him a hero! Everyone else calls him Sick Simon. When will it end? How far will he go? Will the germs take over, or can Sick Simon learn to change his ways?

(synopsis from Goodreads)

There were bound to be some books that were rendered completely useless by the COVID-19 episode. Sick Simon, published in 2015, is one of them.

Simon is a disgusting little kid. He's sick. He gets snot and puke everywhere and coughs on everyone around him. Soon, he makes the whole school sick. After a meeting with his germs, he realizes the error of his ways and starts to take better care of himself.

While the common sense suggestions of washing your hands, blowing your nose into a tissue, and getting plenty of rest are fine, they're rendered moot by today's climate. Children no longer have the opportunity to make decisions that affect their own health; everything--including whether or not they can go to school--is dictated by the government. And I fear that a book like this could potentially be damaging to vulnerable little psyches. Kids are already being told they're walking disease vectors that are going to kill their grandparents if they don't wear a mask 24/7 and develop a hand-sanitizer addiction (even if they're not sick). Showing Simon make all his classmates violently ill could be traumatizing for already stressed-out kids who have absorbed the messaging about being dirty and diseased.

Before this year, I might've looked on this one more favourably. Simon is suitably disgusting, and kids probably would've gotten a kick out of his nasty habits. But now... it just hits too close to home, and it reinforces the fact that children have no choice in the matter. They're not allowed to decide to go to school when they're sick (or even make the better choice to stay home) because all choice has been stripped away. Sick Simon reads like a paean to a simpler time, when a child with the sniffles was regarded as something other than a murderous disease vector.

Premise: 2/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 1/5

Overall: 2.17 out of 5

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