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Messages of good health and positive self-esteem for girls aren’t hard to come by in kid lit, so what’s the deal with all the attention for a not-yet-published rhyming picture book about an obese, unhappy 14-year-old named Maggie? Paul Kramer’s amateurish, self-published effort is recommended on Amazon for kids ages 4 to 8. This book came to my attention while watching “Good Morning America“.

The online mess for Kramer began recently with outraged commentators on Amazon, where pre-orders haven’t propelled Maggie anywhere near the top of the rankings. There’s now a “savemaggie” hashtag on Twitter, a “Say No to Maggie Goes on a Diet” Facebook page, calls for a boycott and demands that Amazon and Barnes & Noble pull the book. While most of the attention has been negative, he said, there are supporters, like this one who responded to a book basher on Twitter: “She’s 14, not 6. Are you seriously suggesting that, with the obesity problem in this country, that a book teaching children to exercise and eat right, is somehow IMMORAL? I bet your fat.”

Kramer, who went on “Good Morning America” to defend the book, already has regrets, though using the word “diet” isn’t one of them. Diet, he said, isn’t a dirty word as many of his angry critics have declared. Even for a book clearly most appropriate for little kids? He insists he didn’t have 4-year-olds in mind, thinking more along the lines of 8 and up.

What do you think?

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