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Review: Maggie Goes on a Diet, Paul M Kramer

Maggie Goes on a Diet; Paul M. Kramer

Published December 2011, Aloah Publishing . Hardback. List price £10.99

Appropriate for ages 6-10.

From the cover:

This book is about a 14 year old girl who changed her eating habits and began playing sports. She stareted eating and enjoying healthy and nutitious foods which slowly began to transform her life. Maggie became happier and more physically fit. Through time, excerise and hard work, Maggie’s self image and confidence improved steadily.

The most anticipated (by me) book of the year is finally here. After delays and push backs Maggie Goes on a Diet is officially For Sale (in the US. For some reason it’s not been shipped to Amazon UK). But I have one, and yes, I paid money for it (the author wasn’t exactly going to give me a review copy, now was he?) and here it is in all its cheaply printed pink glory.

You may recall the bit of a tizzy I got in when this book first hit my radar. My indignation spread like a fire in a heavily wooded area. Within days the Feminists of the internet, parenting sites and pro-ana blogs* had picked up the story, and news orgs from Italy to New Zealand, the US to Norway, and  were reporting on the horror of Maggie Goes on a Diet. Everyone from the LA Times to the Daily Mail got in on the acrimony. Facebook groups were set up that called for a boycott of the book (as well as some supporting the publication). After three days, I stopped counting, lay back and proclaimed my work here is done! After a week the outrage was so bad that author Paul Kramer took to Good Morning America to defend himself. When I first came across Maggie Goes on a Diet I was amazed that the only hit on Google was Aloah publishing; now there are more than 4,020,000 hits. I hate to blow my own trumpet (oh, wait, I don’t), but I think I done broke a story. It gives me a warm fuzzy.

So, is Maggie Goes on a Diet really that bad? According to the blurb, it preaches healthy eating and participation in sports as a way to boost self-confidence. Well, now the book has been released. Since no one else is going to buy it, I don’t feel so bad about parting with £8.50 in order to have a look beyond the cover.

But before we do that, lets take a look at the cover art again. We’re not supposed to judge a book in this way, but lets, just for the fun of it. Read the rest of this entry

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More on Maggie

For those of you living in the UK, Maggie Goes on a Diet will be featured on 5live, at 5pm on channel 5 tonight.

Think armchair activism gets you nowhere? You’re wrong!

Who’d’ve thunk it?

TreasuryIslands had a bit of a rant yesterday about a book to be published in October, Maggie Goes on a Diet. We encouraged you to nail your feminist colours to the mast and hop over to Amazon to tag the book as appropriate. The cry went up: our daughters do not need this, and the tags began to appear. I started with ‘give your children neuroses’ and you, dear Islanders, followed suit; ‘anorexia’, you added, ‘quack’; ‘body fascism’; ‘feminism what feminism’; ‘irresponsible publishing’. The list continues to grow. Thank you.

And then, through the power of Twitter, and with enormous thanks to reader AliB, the Guardian Women’s Blog picked up the story. The author is yet to comment, but be assured TreasuryIslands is keeping a very close eye on this one.

Update, 18/08/11 Maggie Goes on a Diet is now featured on Jezebel.com and Dadventure, De Telegraaf (Dutch), Top News, ABC Nyheter (Norwegian), CT Now, TVNZ and Netmums.

Dieting: it’s not just for grown-ups

Here’s a bit of armchair activism for you: hop over to the Amazon page for this new childrens’ book, due to be released in the not-too-distant future. Take in the name. It’s called Maggie Goes on a Diet. Feeling a little uncomfortable yet?

Now read the description. Fairly unpleasant, isn’t it? Fairly unpleasant, but nothing too horrendous. After all, teaching healthy eating habits is an admirable enterprise. But wait. What’s this I see? Suitable for ages 4-8? Four to eight?? FOUR TO EIGHT?

What we have here, Islanders, is a book, written by a man, telling pre-pubescent girls to diet. YOU THERE! YOU’RE PROBABLY TOO FAT! DON’T YOU WANT TO WEAR THIS PRETTY PINK FROCK?

BAN THIS SICK FILTH

Let’s take in the cover. It is, after all, the only thing we currently have to go on. This smiley girl with Pippi Longstocking plaits is probably Maggie. And Maggie is, lets face it, a little on the plump side. Maggie has a pretty pink frock. Girls like pretty pink frocks. But look! The pretty pink frock will not fit her – it is too small! Here’s a suggestion for your next book Mr. Kramer: write a book called MAGGIE’S MUM BUYS A DRESS THAT ACTUALLY FITS HER AND DOESN’T DEGRADE HER DAUGHTER, and get someone else to write it.

Young girls are surrounded by messages telling them they’re not good enough. But just in case they miss the billboard adverts, TV commercials, models and actors preaching impossible standards of beauty and culturally acceptable body sizes why not give them this? It’s never to early to introduce body fascism to your children!

Dieting Maggie is 14. Fourteen, incidentally, is the peak age for the developing anorexia nervosa. It doesn’t matter, though. Maggie could be 14 or 40. This book is aimed at children who have only just started school. Children who may be being widely socialized for the first time. Teen bodies and pre-pubescent bodies are very different places to live. To write about one as relevant to the other is irresponsible. To even suggest children with still developing bodies diet is irresponsible and cruel. As far as I can tell Mr Kramer is not a GP, nor a nutritionist, nor a child psychologist. He’s a kidlit author who self-publishes. Is he popular? I don’t know, but I certainly hope not.

I’ve already been over to Amazon and added a couple of appropriate tags to this book. Why not go add yours?

Books for Birmingham – a plea

Earlier today I posted a link to a survey revealing that 30% of children do not have any books. This is appalling and, quite rightly, certain corners of the internet have exploded with cries of SOMETHING SHOULD BE DONE.

Well, something is. Jess of For Books’ Sake has posted to her own blog with an excellent suggestion of how you can make that statistic a little better. Not by donating to a literacy charity, or campaigning to the education secretary, but by directly helping out a class of children in Birmingham who simply don’t have the access to books that they want and need.

Look at the joy!

If you have a children’s book or two lying around that you don’t need (maybe that your own children have grown out of?), please consider hopping over to Travelling Suitcase Library and sending them to a youngster who would really appreciate them. You’ll even get to feel smug for a little while afterwards.

30% of UK children own no books

Three in 10 UK children ‘own no books’.

A survey of 18,141 childen (ostensibly aged 8-17 but in practice largely between the ages of 11 and 13) reveals that four in ten boys and 3 in ten girls do not own any books.

Though the survey, undertaken by the National Literacy Trust, looks flawed, its findings mirror those of previous studies.

You can read the full report here.

Gender imbalance in children’s literature, study finds

A fly-by update to point you in the direction of a Guardian article which reports on a study which reveals the gender imbalance in children’s literature.

Looking at almost 6,000 children’s books published between 1900 and 2000, the study, led by Janice McCabe, a professor of sociology at Florida State University, found that males are central characters in 57% of children’s books published each year, with just 31% having female central characters. Male animals are central characters in 23% of books per year, the study found, while female animals star in only 7.5%

I am yet to read the study myself, but I will report back when I have done so.