I’ve decided to spork a children’s book, for reasons that escape me. The last time I did this I ended up getting sued. I guess technically the Maradonia series was written for children, although with all the bloody violence and rape scenes that’s an easy point to forget.

I don’t actually remember how I stumbled across this gem, so don’t bother asking. I got it for $2.14 from Amazon.com, where it has a number of truly vicious reviews.

The cover is not terribly interesting, depicting a fat girl looking at herself in a mirror that apparently is one of those weird funhouse mirrors – oh wait, it must be that she’s imagining what she would look like if she was skinny instead. Okay.

We open with the eponymous Maggie playing a game of baseball. She apparently isn’t very good and people laugh at her when she gets up to bat. She’s clumsy, fat, and the worst player on the team.

The picture here is utterly atrocious. It fails on so many levels that I need to put another picture beside it just to demonstrate:

So we have a pitcher who is falling backward off the mound as he throws the pitch. Or maybe falling sideways. It fails at perspective. And the pitcher is stepping with his left leg even though pitchers step with their opposite legs when they throw. Notice how Cliff Lee, a left-hander, steps with his right leg?

Maggie decides that she’s going to become fit and lean. Because, as we all know, you can’t be fat and be a good player. Just look at Prince Fielder. CC Sabathia. Fucking Babe Ruth.

Afterwards, Maggie feels pretty shitty so she stuffs her face at home with bread and cheese, the staples of any overweight person. And, based on this picture, she does look a wee bit chunky.

The next day Maggie gets asked if she wants to play soccer. Wait a second. They just ASKED the fat girl if she wanted to play soccer? I thought all the kids disliked her and made fun of her? And now they’re treating her like a normal human being? What the fuck, book, show us some goddamn consistency.

Anyway, Maggie plays soccer and isn’t very good but she has a blast.

We learn that Maggie gets made fun of a lot and called a lot of names. Fortunately, she has an excellent comeback:

She said, “Is your life so boring that you have nothing else better to do?”
“How would you like it and how would you feel if everyone picked on you?”
“So lose your stinger and make like a bee and buzz on through.”

I should have probably mentioned that this book is written in rhyme. Not particularly good rhyme, of course, but more on that later. I just can’t fathom a fourteen-year-old making a crack like this. Lose your stinger and make like a bee and buzz on through? What the fuck does that even mean? I don’t know, so I decided to write a better, rhyming retort:

“Why do you douchebags assume I’m made of glass?
“I’ve got a 4.0 while you all are failing class.
“So why don’t you fuck off before I curb-stomp your ass?”

Anyway, Maggie finally decides to get her shit together and lose that weight, as we are told in rhyme. But first, let’s pause for a moment to discuss the mechanics of writing in verse. Obviously, rhyming is often a key component, but there’s a second part which is mostly concerned with rhythm and flow. It’s actually not that hard to get right. All you generally need to do is make sure that rhyming lines have equal or roughly equal syllables and have proper flow, which is easily accomplished by reading it aloud. Let’s start with a limerick, with the syllable counts noted before each line:

8 A charming young man from Kildare
8 Was fucking a maid on the stair
5 The bannister broke
6 But he doubled his stroke
8 And finished her off in mid-air

It’s not that complicated. If you want it to rhyme and to flow well, make sure the lines have equal or close to equal syllables in them and make sure they sound reasonable when read out loud. Paul Kramer, unfortunately, seems to have missed that step:

13 It took Maggie awhile to finally make up her mind.
22 She promised herself she was going to reduce her stomach as well as her big behind.

What the fucking fuck, Kramer? Do you have no idea how to creatively write a sentence? Here, let me compose one, and I’ll even time myself, to see how long it takes me:

13 It took Maggie awhile to finally make up her mind
14 She decided to reduce her stomach and big behind

That took me less than 60 seconds to come up with.

So, the next morning Maggie has started her new diet which consists of eating theoretically healthy foods. Oatmeal and yoghurt and fruit for breakfast, turkey sandwich for lunch, and for dinner, vegetables with “various proteins” which I’m guessing is just because Kramer couldn’t think of anything that rhymes with “greens”.

Maggie missed her treats but imagined how she would look in smaller sized jeans.

And really, that’s a fantastic message to be giving to impressionable fourteen-year-old girls. You need to be skinnier, and when dieting is hard, just imagine how great you’re going to look once you’re skinny! It’s not like millions of young woman already suffer from incredibly low self-esteem and body issues based on the standards of Hollywood and the modeling industry, where if people can’t count each of your ribs you’re grotesquely fat.

Maybe Kramer plans to write a sequel called “Maggie Goes On Another Diet” that features an emaciated 17-year-old Maggie out on a date, excusing herself to go into the restroom and jam a finger down her throat to vomit up her salad. Written in terrible verse.

Maggie said “Excuse me” because now she had a goal.
She went to the restroom, deep-throated her finger, and threw up in the bowl.

Eh, maybe I’ll just write one myself.

So Maggie starts losing weight and she has better energy and things are peachy. Her parents don’t notice that their obese daughter has suddenly changed her diet and is losing weight and that’s because Maggie’s parents aren’t actually in this book. I’m guessing Kramer’s point is that if you’re an overweight 14-year-old girl you should make these life decisions on your own and not talk to your parents and maybe even the family doctor in order to come up with a plan to get you to a healthier weight.

Next, Maggie’s baseball team plays their final game of the year. They suck and they haven’t won a single game all year. And we get these two lines back to back:

But this time instead of being laughed at, Maggie received lots of cheer.
Everybody thought that Maggie would strike out as she did so many times before

Okay. So she’s a bit skinnier but not by much so they’re cheering for her…even though everyone expects her to strike out like she always does? How does that even remotely make sense??? Anyway, Maggie gets up with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, even though middle schoolers only play six or seven-inning games, and she promptly crushes a game-winning home run. Yes, that’s right: if you are overweight and go on a diet and start losing weight, you will become awesome at baseball.

We learn that Maggie is being teased less, she has more confidence and less stress, and some of her classmates hang out with her during lunch and ask her if she wants to hang out. Then she gets invited to THE FIRST SLEEPOVER OF HER LIFE! Weight loss = instant popularity. Who knew? I was a fat kid growing up and I certainly never had any friends. If only I’d had this book to give me some guidance.

She can’t decide what to pack, but this little storyline is forgotten after exactly one line. At the sleepover the girls talk about which of the boys they like and they all tickle Maggie to make her tell.

Not pictured: 14-year-old girls having a tickle fight.

Things get a little weird when Susan goes to the bathroom ahead of Maggie and Maggie yells that she’s going to burst. Then:

Maggie was worried that she might leave a smell

Uh…okay then. So she takes a really smelly dump at her friend’s sleepover, which is potentially embarrassing and also hilarious, but why, precisely, is this scene in a book about a girl dieting? Is Kramer trying to say that if you change your diet your dumps might be smelly?

Or wait! I think I have it now. Kramer is trying to bring Maggie down to earth. Yeah, she’s on a diet and losing weight, but it’s not like she thinks her shit doesn’t stink. Figuratively and actually speaking.

Anyway, Maggie had brought deodorant spray with her so she hoses the place down, problem solved.

We jump forward and Maggie has lost thirty pounds over four months. Success! She looks better, because fat people are unattractive. According to Kramer. And she feels better! And is healthier! She’s also become a soccer star and her team is on a winning streak and she has a personal cheering section at games that carry a banner that says “Go Maggie!!” Holy shit! Is this really what my life could be like if I were skinny?

It continues: now she’s starting to get male attention!

Maggie was getting more and more attention from the guys.
Maggie’s reputation was slowly increasing and on the rise.

You do realize that “increasing” and “on the rise” mean the same thing?

She has more fun at school and gets higher grades and more self-confidence! Well, that’s obviously true. It’s the skinny, attractive people who always do the best in school.

After ten months, she weighs fifty-one pounds less and has to buy all new clothes because her old clothes don’t fit her anymore. This doesn’t surprise me. Based on the illustration, if I were feeling eloquent I’d describe New Maggie as “waifish”. If I weren’t, I’d probably go with “skinny like a twig”.

It’s the end of soccer season, Maggie’s team is in first place and with a very good reason – she’s not fat. Maggie’s teammate Kyra misses a goal but Maggie picks her up and scores the goal, which probably won the game but Kramer doesn’t tell us.

A few weeks later Maggie rolls down to the soccer fields to practice kicking some balls, and sees another girl.

One of them could hardly move but her kick was strong like a horse.

Why are we comparing overweight girls to horses?

Anyway, now Maggie has become the master, or something.

Look at how healthy she is!

Kramer wraps up by having the narrator address the audience directly, while Maggie stands holding a soccer trophy in front of her adoring fans.

It is sad that people are judged mainly because of how they look.
A pretty cover does not necessarily guarantee a good book

Wait. Hang on a second. You’re saying it’s SAD that people are judged mainly on how they look, at the end of a book where a character doesn’t like how she’s being judged on the way she looks so she decides to change the way she looks and has instant success? Are you fucking retarded?

You need to give people a chance and look into their heart.

Yeah. Remember that part of the book where people treated Maggie like shit because she was fat, and then after a few skull-thumpings with a tire iron, everyone learned a valuable lesson about how it doesn’t matter whether you’re fat or skinny or anywhere in between, it’s who you are as a person and the choices you make that matters, and that you should treat everyone kindly regardless of their appearance because that’s what’s RIGHT? Yeah, you don’t remember that part, because it didn’t fucking happen.

Anyway, the book reminds us to think about all the benefits that came to Maggie because she lost weight. To recap: she became prettier, more popular, made a bunch of friends, guys are now interested in her, her grades went up, she has more self-confidence, and she became a soccer and baseball star, and now she mentors younger and chunkier kids.


After the book ends there’s a little ditty, almost an afterward, by Kramer that is about the different kinds of bellies. I’m just going to skip it because it’s a piece of shit.

So, don’t get me wrong, I know that there are plenty of obese people in the world and I know there are health risks associated with it and it’s not necessarily a BAD thing to try and help kids become healthier. But there’s a right way to go about it, and there’s a wrong way to go about it, and this book handles it in the wrong way.

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  1. Prince O'Tea on 22 September 2012, 19:44 said:

    Agreed. The sad thing is that the book does have some good ideas, but the execution is horrible. Obesity causes major health problems, but so do eating disorders.

    Also, I can’t help but think Pippi Longstockings when I see Maggie. Or since it’s drawn in a pseudo-manga style, I also think she looks like Aika from Skies of Arcadia. Also, can they pick a color for her hair? It’s a different shade of orange in every single picture. In one it’s practically blonde.

  2. swenson on 22 September 2012, 19:51 said:

    Truly you are a master of poetry.

    So according to this book, being thin will automatically make you great at sports, as well as able to catch all the guys? I have been doing something very, very, very wrong, then.

    (On a side note, thirty pounds in four months? I seem to remember being taught you’re only supposed to shoot for about a pound a week, at least if you don’t have a dietician or somebody watching over you.)

  3. Apep on 22 September 2012, 19:52 said:

    Also, can they pick a color for her hair? It’s a different shade of orange in every single picture. In one it’s practically blonde.

    Well the answer’s obvious:

    Attractive people are skinny.
    Attractive people are blonde.
    Therefore, skinny people are blonde.


  4. Danielle on 22 September 2012, 22:50 said:

    I am skinny, small, and pretty. When I was in school, I was shy, awkward, unpopular, and bullied. I got good grades, but that’s because I’m also pretty intelligent, not because I’m skinny.

    Before Maggie went on a diet, she should have spoken to Al Gore. Sure, he lied about inventing the internet, but he’s also a chunky guy who managed to be pretty successful.

    Oh, and Adele. She should have talked to Adele, too.

    And Kramer should have talked to Shel Silverstein. Yes, I know he’s dead, but I think he’d come back to life just long enough to laugh at her terrible rhymes. And then he’d write a poem about Maggie, the chunky girl who sat on all of the people who bullied her and was never picked on again.

  5. Jabba the Hutt on 23 September 2012, 01:24 said:

    Of course bread and cheese is fat people food. Chocolate and cocktail peanuts are fat people food. Potato chips and Twinkies are fat people food. Anything and everything can be fat people food. I often eat when I feel lonely or stressed. What the food is doesn’t matter as long as it’s salty or sweet and easy to get at. I almost never cook anything when I do gastronomic self-therapy. It makes me even more fat but there’s nothing I can do about being fat. The eating itself makes me feel better briefly, even when it’s junk food I just stuff in my mouth. But then I feel shitty later, usually soon after. It makes me want to vomit. I make myself sick. I am disgusting and unworthy of life or affection.

    This book is bullshit.

  6. Master Chief on 23 September 2012, 01:33 said:

    @Danielle your last line about Shel Silverstein is genius. Could you write a poem like that in the good man’s stead?

  7. Licht on 23 September 2012, 07:09 said:

    Girl + diet + bathroom + afraid to leave traces/ smell + deodorant spray -> skinny… I don’t know about you, but to me this has a certain unhealthy undertone to it.

    I’ve heard of this book somewhere else before. My opinion hasn’t changed since: This book is utter bullshit.

    Sadly, it fits in our Zeitgeist.

  8. LoneWolf on 23 September 2012, 07:39 said:

    Sounds like a common Broken Aesop.

  9. Tim on 23 September 2012, 07:53 said:

    Before Maggie went on a diet, she should have spoken to Al Gore. Sure, he lied about inventing the internet

    To be completely fair he didn’t actually say that, the actual quote is:

    During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet. I took the initiative in moving forward a whole range of initiatives that have proven to be important to our country’s economic growth and environmental protection, improvements in our educational system.

    Certainly the man has an extremely inflated opinion of his contributions when most of the technology existed in the 60s, and misquoting him is far more amusing than what he actually said, but…Well, that’s what he really said. As Snopes puts it, it’s like if Eisenhower said he’d created the interstate system and you quoted him as saying he’d either built it himself or invented highways.

  10. Pryotra on 23 September 2012, 11:05 said:

    Girl + diet + bathroom + afraid to leave traces/ smell + deodorant spray -> skinny… I don’t know about you, but to me this has a certain unhealthy undertone to it.

    Hey kids! Bulimia is a perfectly healthy, normal way to lose weight! Try it now~

    Oh, but it’s not your body, it’s what’s inside you that counts.

    This book is horrible. What’s even worse is the if you’re being bullied it’s because you’re fat/ugly/stupid undertone. So it’s obviously your fault.

  11. Tim on 23 September 2012, 11:11 said:

    Oh, but it’s not your body, it’s what’s inside you that counts.

    As long as it isn’t food!

  12. Danielle on 23 September 2012, 13:41 said:

    Could you write a poem like that in the good man’s stead?

    Coming right up!

  13. Master Chief on 23 September 2012, 14:54 said:


  14. Danielle on 23 September 2012, 16:22 said:

    I know this isn’t nearly as good as Shel Silverstein’s work, but I’m not a poet by any stretch.

    Maggie’s Revenge

    There once was a girl
    A sweet little girl
    And Maggie was her name
    She lived in a world
    A marvelous world
    Where she was teased and taunted and lame.

    See Maggie the girl
    The sweet little girl
    Was fat as fat could be.
    When she was alone
    In her own little home
    She ate everything she could see.

    Bread and cheese
    And black-eyed peas
    Found their way to her mouth
    The more she ate
    The more weight she gained
    And she became quite round.

    But Maggie the girl
    Lived in a world
    Where round was not a nice shape.
    Bullies had friends
    Who teased without end
    Saying “You’re fat as a grape!”

    Sweet Maggie Bean
    Thought they were mean
    Till she noticed something profound.
    “They are small,” she said
    “And thick in the head,
    “While I am incredibly round.

    “Enough of this shit!
    “I don’t have to take it!
    “They need a dose of their own!”
    So she went to the fridge
    Loaded up on sausage
    And said “It’s time they’re dethroned!”

    The very next day
    All were amazed
    When Maggie walked up to the door.
    They whispered and spat
    “I daresay she’s fat—
    “Fatter than ever before!”

    And it was true
    For dear Maggie Blue
    Weighed near as much as a horse.
    But it was her face
    That filled up the space
    It said, “I’m changing course.”

    The bullies all laughed.
    “Maggie, you’re daft!
    “You’re big as big can be!
    “So come, Maggie Dear,”
    They said to a cheer,
    “Come here and sit on me!”

    Maggie the girl
    Gave it a whirl
    And sat upon their heads.
    She smiled, serene,
    Until they screamed
    That soon they would be dead.

    When she stood
    She thought all would
    Scream and run away.
    But to her suprise
    All the girls and guys
    Said “Maggie, you’ve saved the day!”

    “For years we suffered
    “Went home and blubbered
    “To our parents, because we felt
    “Awful and hated
    “And always fated
    “To only hate ourselves.

    “But not anymore,”
    They said with a roar
    “Maggie, you’ve ended the reign
    “Of snotty bastards
    “And their terrible words
    “And we’ll never be sad again!”

    So Maggie and friends
    Linked arms end to end
    And skipped off to the little cafe
    Where they drank sodas and floats
    And joyously wrote
    Of their wonderful, wonderful day.

    So children, remember
    Next time you’re dismembered
    By the words of a snotty bastard,
    If you sit on their heads
    Till they’re not quite dead
    They’ll retreat like frightened lizards.

  15. Pryotra on 23 September 2012, 16:35 said:

  16. Danielle on 23 September 2012, 18:10 said:

    bows Why thank you, Pryotra dear.

  17. Soupnazi on 23 September 2012, 19:57 said:

    That was incredible, Danielle!

  18. NeuroticPlatypus on 24 September 2012, 00:53 said:

    Impressive, Danielle.

  19. Fireshark on 24 September 2012, 08:31 said:


  20. Fell Blade on 24 September 2012, 09:25 said:

    Niiiiiiice. Hehe, that was awesome!

  21. goa on 24 September 2012, 11:39 said:

    I love how skinny = +10 intellect lol
    Probably because all that fat isn’t crushing your brain.

  22. Kyll on 24 September 2012, 15:48 said:

    All you generally need to do is make sure that rhyming lines have equal or roughly equal syllables and have proper flow


    You’re leaving out stress patterns and syllable weights. You need to consider both in conjunction with syllable count in order to get a good flow. Get a strong enough pattern of stresses and weights, and even if a syllable is skipped or added on, the rhyme will still flow fine. If the syllable and/or stress pattern isn’t established, well, your own less-than-60-second couplet is a good example of awkward verse.

    It took Maggie awhile to finally make up her mind

    - – / / – / – / – - / / – /

    She decided to reduce her stomach and big behind

    - – / – - – / – / – - / / –

    Close syllable count or not, that just doesn’t feel like a rhyme because the pattern of stress/weight is nonexistent.

    A better example would be:

    It took Maggie a while to make up her mind.
    She’d lose weight and leave all bad habits behind.

    It’s one thing to criticize her verse, but if you’re going to make a point of writing verse better, it had better be good.

  23. Kitty on 24 September 2012, 16:38 said:

    The art style seems incongruous. I didn’t expect Miyazaki when I first looked many moons ago, and it’s no better now.

    Somebody should probably tell her that being tall and gangly and tottering like a Jenga tower isn’t very much fun either

  24. Tim on 24 September 2012, 18:50 said:

    I don’t really think much of how “Maggie” sounds in verse anyway; it’s hard to describe, but every time the name appears I find myself stumbling over it. It seems to flow a lot more easily if she’s something like Suzy or Jenny.

  25. Prince O' Tea on 25 September 2012, 07:11 said:

    Maggie Goes on a Diet 2: Maggie Dyes her Hair

    Despite losing weight, the bullying didn’t stop.
    Now her classmates pointed and shouted: “carrot-top!”

    Because remember kids, changing yourself to please people who ignore and make fun of you is a much better reason then your health or your own self esteem.

  26. VikingBoyBilly on 27 September 2012, 07:01 said:

    This had the potential to be an inspiring story. The problem is that there was no real conflict. Maggie is fat. Maggie feels bad about it. Maggie goes on a diet and becomes thin just like that. She didn’t have any setbacks, didn’t feel temptations to stuff her face with cheese again, and didn’t need to do anything more than change her diet. She instantly got what she wanted, and that’s the story. That’s not good entertainment.

  27. VikingBoyBilly on 27 September 2012, 12:55 said:

    Hey Rorscach, do you wanna do the sequel, My Beautiful Mommy?


  28. Prince O' Tea on 28 September 2012, 15:58 said:

    What…huh… why did someone even think that was an issue?

    http://www.amazon.com/Does-Michaels-Daddies-Sarah-Ask/dp/0932859941/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1348862242&sr=1-1&keywords=does+god+love+two+daddies I’d like to do a spork of this, but only if I can figure out how to get that book without giving the author any of my money.

  29. Tim on 29 September 2012, 03:00 said:

    Hey Rorscach, do you wanna do the sequel, My Beautiful Mommy?

    Followed ten years later by “It’s Ok That Mommy’s Face Doesn’t Move When She Smiles” and the highly informative “Why Injecting Chemical Warfare Agents Into Your Face Is Something Other Than Utterly Fucking Stupid.”

  30. Tim on 29 September 2012, 03:32 said:


    Well, um, that’s one way of voicing criticism, I guess.