Childhood Diseases are Fun!

have a happy measle title page

Have a Happy Measle, and a Merry Mumps and a Cheery Chickenpox

Today we have an oldie, but a goodie, thanks to an alert Twitter follower. Since this is before widespread application of the vaccines for childhood illnesses, maybe these authors were just trying to spin disease as a fun vacation from school. As a child, I had measles, mumps and chickenpox and just about everyone else I knew did too. It was almost a rite of passage. I don’t really remember it being this “fun”, though. It’s definitely a weeder, but also an awesome relic from the olden days.

Stay healthy everyone!


how you look with measles

what you shouldn't do when you have measles

how you look with mumps

broken bones

healthy advice for kids


  1. It doesn’t mention how many people died or were permanently disabled by those diseases, I’m sure. An anti-vaxxer would have a field day with that book, despite the fact it recommends vaccination.

  2. Ah, the good old days of childhood diseases. My sister and I were quarantined for almost three months one spring with mumps, followed by scarletina, and then by the two week measles. How we caught the last two when we didn’t get out of the house is a mystery. And, yes the city sent somebody out to tack a big sign declaring us quarantined. Each disease had a different color

    1. Featuring that book would rather harm the upbeat tone of this blog: The measles cause the most vaccine-preventable deaths of any disease, and that book, published in 2012, advocates not vaccinating for it.

    2. Not to pile on, but there’s a little irony to that book: “its title is reminiscent of George’s Marvellous Medicine, by Roald Dahl, whose daughter, Olivia Dahl, died from measles.” (From the Wikipedia article you linked to.

  3. Except for chicken pox I didn’t usually get anything except the occasional cold or flu. But my brother once got whooping cough, and it was not pretty. Hard to enjoy a vacation from school when you’re coughing so hard you get violently sick and are on the verge of drowning in your own mucus. It’s ironic how the anti-vaxxers who think wrongly that vaccines will give their kids autism would rather let them get preventable diseases that and can leave your child mentally and/or physically disabled. And DEAD.

  4. All I remember from chicken pox was the three week vacation and the pain. At my age it was hard to understand. I still have the scars from it.

    1. I was 12 when I had chicken pox, but I must have had a much milder case of it. It was just after the March break and the Easter holidays were a week away. I couldn’t complain about the extra week off from school and was fine by the Easter arrived. Of course now I have worry about the shingles, which makes chicken pox look like a couple of annoying mosquito bites.

  5. Oh, how I’d love to have this book if I found it at a library sale! Jeanne Bendick labored in the trenches of work-for-hire nonfiction writing for kids, as I do, and produced many books…I agree it has no place in a library for circulation, but what a fun find for the history of medicine! Jolly jolly mumps…

  6. I don’t remember having chicken pox, no vaccine at the time, but since that’s because I was young enough to still in diapers, I can’t imagine it was a good time.

  7. My grandma did not have a very happy measles. It gave her severe, permanent hearing damage. She also has post-polio syndrome. Old-school children’s books made serious diseases sound like minor inconveniences!

    1. I can imagine things like that is why old-school children’s books – at least ones like this one – does make them sound like minor inconveniences. Among the last thing a child quarantined at home with measles would want to hear is
      “Hey, kid! Do you have any idea how many people die from measles every year? Less than a hundred years ago* measles killed a third of all Fijians, and if you survive you might become deaf!”.

      *Less than a hundred years before the the book was published.

  8. Chickenpox still is a rite of passage around here. We don’t routinely vaccinate for it in this country, partly on cost grounds but also because of the whole MMR thing. There’s also a school of thought that says it’s actually healthier in the long run; I can’t find anything to back it up just now, but I’ve heard there’s some evidence that if you don’t contract, develop and fight off ordinary childhood illnesses you’re at greater risk of developing allergies and other autoimmune disorders.

    Note however that we do vaccinate for measles, mumps, rubella and anything else that has a significant risk of being actually fatal.

    1. Getting chickenpox as a child means you can get shingles when you’re older. Which is another vaccine we have now. It can also cause all sorts of permanent damage. My brothers and I all had it as children with one brother actually having them break out on his eyeballs and inside his penis. Anyone who doesn’t vaccinate their kids for them are either stupid or crazy or both.

      1. I had them on my eyeballs too! I’m glad kids today will never have to experience that particular rite of passage.

  9. I’m three years older than this book. We had three kids in the family, and whatever the disease was would go right through the lot… I was oldest, so I brought both measles and chicken pox home from school. Then my sister caught whateveritwas, juuust as I was at that horrible “recovering” stage where you’re not well enough to enjoy anything but you’re sick of bed… and then our brother would invariably complicate whatever the rash du jour was with diaper rash.

    Why my mother didn’t run off and join the circus, I’ll never know… so glad there’s vaccines now.

  10. A book that is older than me (okay, only by a year though)! That said, I actually liked the approach.

  11. I had chickenpox when I was in second grade. I remember the school sending home notices “your child has been exposed to …”; I remember the scabby sores; I remember my mom giving me baths in Dreft detergent. I don’t remember virus parties though

  12. Ugh, chickenpox. Not fun. I had them as a young child, and I have the scars to prove it. As much as my mother tried to keep me from itching them, she couldn’t stop me all the time. And now, in my 40s, I have already had one minor case of shingles. Counting the days until I can get that vaccine which hasn’t been approved for people under 50. It drives me crazy that people assume that these “childhood” diseases aren’t dangerous. They obviously aren’t reading enough pre-vaccine era books that refer to children being very sick and sometimes dying from them.

  13. The chicken pox vaccine wasn’t around when my son came down with it — on Easter Sunday when we were visiting the in-laws. I was horrified because it meant that he had exposed his daycare friends, one of whom was immuno-suppressed. I called that boy’s mother and she took him in for a gamma globulin shot, and he didn’t get sick — I was so relieved.

    I can’t see any justification for not vaccinating against disease, if vaccinations are available. I don’t think that is correct, about a correlation between getting these diseases and having a stronger immune system. Ordinary infections and everyday microbes can take care of that — farm kids are less likely to have allergies and asthma.

    Chickenpox in particular has such dreadful possible consequences later in life — why wouldn’t you want to spare your child that?

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