Maggie Goes On A Diet: controversial new kidlit - Vancouver Sun (blog)

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Cover of controversial new children's book: Maggie Goes On A Diet

It isn't hitting bookshelves until next month, but already Maggie Goes On A Diet — a new kidlit publication — is making waves, and depending on where you stand on the subject matter, you'll either buy it or boycott it.

The 44-page softcover book, written in verse by Paul Kramer and self-published last month by his Aloha Publishing, focuses on 14-year-old Maggie, a fat girl who is teased and bullied and decides to turn her life around. She starts embracing healthful eating and regular exercise and before long becomes her school's soccer star. And, along the way, Maggie gains much more self-confidence and popularity among her peers.

Everything about the book, from its cover to its content, has sparked both outrage, and support.

Detractors, including child psychologists, nutrition experts and other children's book publishers, say that because the book is reportedly being aimed by booksellers at much younger children, from ages six to 12,  it will serve only to encourage eating disorders and poor self-image, that prepubescence is far too young to send such a message, that "diet language" for youngsters is inappropriate and that it's just another unhealthy weight-loss message we're sending to our children in a society already inundated with unhealthy message and obsessions about diet and the pursuit of thinness.

The cover, too, has come under fire, depicting a sad, overweight plain girl holding up a pink dress and looking in a mirror, the reflection clearly not who she is but who she wants to be: a perky and pretty thin girl holding up a pink dress.

Supporters, and there are a few, think the picture book is just pointing out the obvious — that one in three kids in North America are overweight, with an astonishing number in the dangerously obese category — and if troubled children can find guidance and acceptance in the pages of a book, or help they might not be getting from their family or friends, then where's the harm? When, they say, did diet become a four-letter word? In the book, Maggie apparently doesn't starve herself, but gradually changes her eating habits, cutting back on junk food, exercising most every day and even allowing herself a treat once a week.

Kramer, who lives in Hawaii, has also written Bullies Beware! and has two upcoming titles: Do Not Dread Wetting the Bed and Divorce Stinks!, and has defended the book, saying his intention is to encourage overweight children to make healthier choices, to help them through what might be a difficult and painful time in their life, and that given the book isn't yet widely available, except online through, everyone seems to be judging his book by its cover.

Here are a few verses from the book:

Losing the weight was not only good for Maggie's health

Maggie was so much happier and also very proud of herself

More and more people are beginning to know Maggie by name

Playing soccer gave Maggie popularity and fame.

Check out this video about  the controversy over Maggie Goes On A Diet.

What do you think?

15 Sep, 2011

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