A little boy who won’t clean between his toes gets taught a lesson in Clemens’ debut, an illustrated children’s book.
Cameron is a young boy who absolutely refuses to wash between his toes. “I like the SQUISH SHISHEE SQUISH of the toe jam I keep between them!” he yells to his mother, unimpressed by her arguments about health. After all, “I don’t comb my hair with them! I don’t even eat with them!” Informing her son that he’ll have to learn the hard way, Cameron’s mother says good night. When he wakes, Cameron discovers that in place of his 10 toes are 10 marshmallows. Through the day, Cameron finds that marshmallows make a poor substitute for toes: They don’t fit in tennis shoes, and they feel gooey inside his hiking boots. After a few misadventures outside, Cameron agrees to clean between his toes if his mother will help him remove the marshmallows. Lively illustrations convey Cameron’s dilemma. Strongly reminiscent of “The Radish Cure” chapter in Betty MacDonald’s Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, this book has the exaggeration but lacks the charm and consistency of that narrative. Dirt, after all, is a natural place to grow radishes, but there’s no natural connection between toe gunk and sweet confections. Also, while Patsy’s layer of topsoil doesn’t bother her until she’s actually growing radishes (and then is so caked with dirt she needs her mother’s help), Cameron recoils immediately—yet for some reason doesn’t take the obvious step of simply removing the marshmallows himself. Child readers, of course, may simply laugh at Cameron’s messy situation without asking such questions. This book could use a clean-up itself to follow standard rules for capitalization and punctuation.
Despite some flaws, children may enjoy the gross-out humor while imbibing the lesson on cleanliness.