Just in time for the tenth anniversary of the 9-11 attacks, there’s a new coloring book that helps explain that dark day to kids. It is entitled “We Shall Never Forget 9/11: The Kids’ Book of Freedom.” The book begins with Osama bin Laden plotting to attack the United States and ends with bin Laden being shot by a Navy SEAL.
A spokesperson for Missouri-based Really Big Coloring Books defended the coloring book saying that seeing bin Laden get shot “provides closure” for children. Right. What responsible parent would try to explain 9-11 to a kid with a freaking coloring book? A lot according to the sales figures.
As a child of the mid-1970s and early ’80s, our coloring books were normal. No one was trying to teach us hard life lessons or reduce traumatic historical events to something that calls for a burnt sienna Crayola. If something historic was happening my parents sat me down in front of the TV and told me what was going on.
I didn’t have a Vietnam coloring book. Or one for the Iranian hostage crisis, or the Challenger disaster, or a paint by numbers for Chernobyl. I had a Superman and Star Wars coloring books as a kid.
Now let’s shift gears from terrorism and retaliatory SEAL strikes to weight loss themes in kids books.
The unreleased book, “Maggie Goes on a Diet” is vexing critics and parents. Amazon.com is pitching the book as an, “inspiring story is about a 14-year-old who goes on a diet and is transformed from being overweight and insecure to a normal sized teen who becomes the school soccer star. Through time, exercise and hard work, Maggie becomes more and more confident and develops a positive self-image.”
Critics are worried that the wrong message is being sent by use of the word, “diet”. The message for some might endorse a calorie-restrictive, semi-starvation regimen. Further still for others, putting a teenage girl — even an overweight one — on a diet is tantamount to child abuse, and a slippery slope to an eating disorder.
The author and the publisher insist the premise of the book is a girl losing weight and feeling better about herself, not exploring issues of anti-fat bias and bullying. Maggie wants to lose weight for herself, not to look perfect, nor like a Barbie or a supermodel.
I’m willing to take author at his word, he’s just trying trying to tell a simple story and not get into the deeper psychological and political issues. And that’s the problem, why try and gloss over something as important as body image and overall health.
Again somewhere out there, some daft parent is going to Barnes and Noble to plunk down cash on this book, in the hope that this will be another conversation with their kid they can postpone or dodge completely.