Allison's Book Bag

Sticky Icky Booger Bugs by Sherry Frith

Posted on: May 7, 2014

Sticky Icky Booger Bugs by Sherry Frith is about a day in the life of a young boy living with Cystic Fibrosis. Because of the subject matter, I expected it to be educational. And it is. Although the whimsical title and illustrations should have given me a clue, I was also pleasantly surprised by how cute Frith’s picture book is.

Frith wrote Sticky Icky Booger Bugs after two of her own sons were diagnosed with this chronic disease for which there currently is no cure. She starts by introducing us to Kory, for whom sticky icky booger bugs are a way of life. He wakes up every morning by coughing and sneezing them out. Throughout the rest of the day, Kory has a medical routine which involves an inhaler, an automated external defibrillator, lots of pills, and even a daily glass of orange juice to help him maintain adequate amount of water and salt. Kory’s evening routine involves more coughing and sneezing, along with a salt wash and additional medication. Anyone reading Kory’s story will gain a clear idea of what his disease involves, along with how carefully it must be treated.

Title aside, Sticky Icky Booger Bugs could have described Cystic Fibrosis as dry facts or even in a heavy-handed style. Instead Frith put a lot of thought into how to describe the disease in terms that both her boys and other young people could understand, and the result is an engaging narrative. Frith succeeds in her goal, partly because of the kid-friendly words she uses to describes Kory’s routines. For example, Kory refers to the an automated external defibrillator as a “shaker” because it “shakes, shakes, shakes, and shakes some more”. Frith also succeeds, because of her ability to get inside the heads of young people. Kory admits to getting bored with the automated external defibrillator and says, “After what feels like forever, I am finished shaking. Hip, hip, hooray!” Kory also reveals that he can sometimes be stubborn about the smoker, which is a machine that gives him a salt solution, and so his mom has to put a nose clip on his nose to keep in the medication. On the positive side, Kory loves getting to drink chocolate milk to swallow his pills. Kory also enjoys the back rub his mom gives him at night to help him sleep. Sticky Icky Booger Bugs is an uplifting and easy-to-read picture book that young people can enjoy, whether or not they suffer from Cystic Fibrosis.

Now for my main quibble with Sticky Icky Booger Bugs. The price. Sticky Icky Booger Bugs is a paperback whose content takes only twenty-four pages, but it sells for $17. Ouch! Classic picture books such as those by Dr. Seuss are selling for $10 or less, including the hardcover version. Even newer best-selling books such as This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen are selling for a similar price. Now both of these aforementioned examples are fiction. What about nonfiction? I looked up another book which I have reviewed, Bog Bodies by James Deem, and discovered that the paperback version also sells for about $10. Only if one gets hardcover is the price more and then it’s still about $15. I understand that Sticky Icky Booger Bugs will likely have a limited audience appeal and therefore the price needs to be higher to break even on costs. At the same time, that hefty price is probably going to also turn off many potential buyers and that is unfortunate.

Cystic Fibrosis is a term I have heard thrown around, but until reading Sticky Icky Booger Bugs had honestly not really understood. Now I not only have a clearer picture of what the disease involves, I’m also aware of what goes into its treatment. For anyone with an interest in the topic, the e-reader version is only $5 and makes a reasonable purchase.

My rating? Read it: Borrow from your library or a friend. It’s worth your time.

How would you rate this book?

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