LS #114, Karen's Chicken Pox

Source:  LS #114, Karen's Chicken Pox    Tag:  where does chicken pox start
It's almost Halloween when this book starts, and Karen is sitting in school coloring a picture of a jack-o-lantern. Ms. Colman has purchased a pumpkin that she will carve for the class, and everyone gets to submit one entry and she will pull one out of a hat and carve the jack-o-lantern as shown. I doubt any of you will be surprised to learn that Karen's drawing is the one chosen. Ms. Colman also sends around a sign-up sheet for goodies for the class Halloween party. Karen signs up to bring both a drink and cupcakes. There are eighteen kids in Karen's class. I really hope that each kid is not bringing two treats to the party. Karen tells us that she is bringing "bat cakes" and "witches' brew" and then explains that bat cakes are cupcakes and witches' brew is soda or juice, but later in the book, it's explicitly stated that Elizabeth buys soda to take to the party. Also I don't know why Ms. Colman is having the kids sign up for what they want to bring. Isn't this what room mothers are for, so that they can call around and the parents can volunteer for what they want to bring instead of having their kid sign them up for something they have neither the time nor desire to make?

Karen, Hannie, and Nancy talk about Halloween at recess and want to have coordinating costumes, but they don't decide what to be. So after school, Karen goes to Hannie's house and talks to her and they call Nancy with costume ideas. Then Karen goes home where Nannie has set out a snack for her, but she thinks of more ideas and wants to call Nancy, but Sam is on the phone, so she goes back over to Hannie's house and they call Nancy together. Then she goes back home and eats her snack and wants to call Hannie, but Sam is still on the phone so she goes back over to Hannie's house and they call Nancy again. Then she finally goes home and stays there. This would drive me up the wall if I were Hannie's parent, but none of the adults act annoyed at all. In the end, the girls decide to be farm animals. Karen is going to be a chicken, Hannie a cow, and Nancy a sheep.

It turns out that Sam's been on the phone a ton because he is trying to organize a bake sale because he is the sophomore class president (my reaction: What? Was this mentioned anywhere else EVER?) and they are trying to raise funds to go on a class trip over spring break (my reaction: Isn't  it usually seniors that go on a class trip? Oh well, they've been in the tenth grade for 12 years, let them have their fun.). He's having a really hard time finding people to volunteer to bake, though. Karen asks if it matters who does the baking. She and Nannie are going to make the cupcakes for her class party, and she suggests that the family could help Sam with his bake sale, which everyone else agrees to. Sam is really grateful for the family's help.

There is a super cute chapter where Charlie, Sam, and Karen go to the grocery store to buy ingredients for baking. After they get the basics, the boys want to leave, but Karen thinks the cupcakes will sell better if they look a little more special, so she picks out coconut, chocolate chips, and a couple of other things to decorate the cupcakes with. Sam sees a rack of bandannas and asks Karen if she wants to get one to wear with her chicken costume. After much deliberation she picks a red one.

While Karen, Charlie, and Sam were at the store, Elizabeth had been at the doctor's office with Emily. It turns out that she has the chicken pox. Karen is surprised because she knows that Emily has been vaccinated against chicken pox, as has Karen herself, but Daddy explains that you can still get the disease sometimes anyway. Also it is stated that David Michael, Kristy, and Andrew have all already had chicken pox. I am a little confused as to why Andrew has had the chicken pox but Karen was vaccinated. This book was published in 1999, when the vaccine was still newish (wikipedia tells me it's been available in the U.S. since 1995). So maybe Andrew had the chicken pox while he was living with his mom and stepdad in Chicago and Karen got the vaccine at the same time while living in Stoneybrook? It would be a lot less confusing if the vaccine were just never mentioned but I guess then kids who were reading it these days would just think "Why didn't they get the shot?"

Karen realizes that if Emily got the chicken pox despite the shot, Karen could too, so she asks Daddy if she can go live with Mommy for a while. Daddy says no. Karen decides that her best bet to stay healthy is to stay the hell away from Emily. (Emily, by the way, is absolutely adorable in the illustrations in this book.) It's a little hard for Karen to stay away from Emily because her family keeps asking her to help Emily. They want her to read to Emily, play a game with Emily, read a story to Emily, Daddy even asks her to help give Emily a bath. Seriously, family? Why keep pestering the one person who's not had chicken pox to play with Emily? I'm sure that Emily is cranky anyway and would rather have her parents care for her instead of her big sister. Karen spends the day in her room and pretends to be doing homework, and in the evening she cleans her room and organizes her closet to get out of helping with Emily. She says that her family is a little annoyed with her, but I'm a little annoyed with her family, so it evens out.

On Monday at school Hannie suggests that Karen eat grapefruit with lemon juice on it because "sour stuff kills germs" and Nancy tells Karen to say a magic spell to keep from getting the chicken pox. Karen tries both of their ideas, but she feels sick on Tuesday, and on Wednesday she wakes up with spots.


I would probably be more surprised by this if the title and the cover picture didn't totally give it away. (It might be hard to see in the small size but Karen has pox on her hands and face in the picture.)

Karen is PISSED. Halloween is coming up and she had a ton of shit to do and now she's going to miss it all because of the chicken pox. Also she says that it is humiliating to have a baby disease like chicken pox. Really? Do the kids in Stoneybrook taunt you for getting the wrong diseases now? "Ha ha, you have chicken pox, that's a baby disease!" "Ha ha, you have shingles, that's an old person disease!" "Otto, you have lupus!"

Karen is mad at everyone. She's mad at Emily for getting her sick. She's mad at Hannie and Nancy because the grapefruit and magic spell didn't work. She's mad at Daddy for not letting her go to her mom's until Emily was no longer contagious. Daddy suggests that Karen and Emily can decorate the house for Halloween. When he leaves the room, Karen sticks her tongue out at Emily, but Emily doesn't know Karen is being mean. She tries to scare Emily with a rubber spider, but Emily just laughs. Then Karen spots some candy. She eats some while Emily watches and then puts the bowl up where Emily can't reach it. Finally Karen succeeds in making Emily cry. Daddy scolds her and she goes back in her room and gets back in bed. She stays in bed and feels sorry for herself for the rest of the day. Her family tries to be nice to her but she doesn't want to be cheered up. The icing on the cake (sorry) is that evening, when the family bakes the cupcakes for Sam's bake sale and Karen can't help because she's germy. She can hear them all laughing and having a great time. Poor Karen. Yes, her anger at Emily is a little misguided, but she's going to miss Halloween, which is like the holy grail of holidays for kids.

The next day Karen is feeling a little better. Nannie is trying to help Emily with her Halloween costume. Emily  is throwing a fit because she doesn't want to be a ghost, and Karen realizes that Emily wants to be a goat. Karen had told her about her chicken costume and Hannie's cow costume and Nancy's sheep costume, and Emily wants to dress as an animal just like the big girls. Karen can't stay mad at Emily, and agrees to help her with her costume. She calls her friends and they help give her ideas too, because she's realized it's pointless to be mad at everyone because she is sick.
See? How adorable is Emily?

On Friday, Elizabeth takes the cupcakes and soda in to Karen's class, and after school, Hannie calls with the news that Karen won a prize for her costume. Karen is confused, since she didn't even wear her costume to school, but Hannie explains that she and Nancy drew a picture of Karen in her chicken costume and entered it and they all won a sheet of pumpkin stickers. I assume that Ms. Colman had pumpkin stickers for everybody and just gave out various costume awards. You KNOW Natalie's sheet of stickers had "Participant" written at the top.

Sam's bake sale is a roaring success, too, and he gives Karen a joke book as a thank you gift.

On Sunday, Daddy takes Emily out trick-or-treating in the goat costume Karen helped make. He wears overalls to look like a farmer. Andrew, who is barely in this book, goes trick-or-treating with a school friend and her parents.  Daddy gets home with a bag of candy for Emily and a bag for Karen, and then Karen puts her costume on and Elizabeth takes their picture.