From the title alone, you can tell that Melanie’s Marvelous Measles is going to be a wild ride.
Written by Stephanie Messenger, this book basically amounts to propaganda for the anti-vaxxer movement. The titular Melanie contracts measles despite being vaccinated, which proves vaccines don’t work. Meanwhile, her unvaccinated friend stays healthy due to her habit of drinking melon and carrot juice.
In the words of its publisher, Melanie’s Marvelous Measles is meant to “educate children on the benefits of having measles and how you can heal from them naturally and successfully.”
Apparently, “history shows that in industrialized countries, these diseases are quite benign and, according to natural health sources, beneficial to the body.” Yes, that’s right, measles is beneficial, which is presumably why the book’s cover art shows Melanie frolicking in the sunshine while covered in a measles rash.
Ironically, the title seems to be a parody of George’s Marvelous Medicine, written by well-known pro-vaccination advocate Roald Dahl.
Confusingly, the book originally appeared with a badge for Amazon’s “Best Children’s Books of 2014,” and Amazon has now quietly removed that badge from its page. (A former Amazon employee says the badge was likely just a link to the actual list and did not signify Melanie’s Marvelous Measles was on it.) This may be a result of the massive number of negative reviews it’s accrued over the past few weeks, all from people mocking the book’s anti-vaccination message.
“Thanks to Melanie’s Marvelous Measles I now have an easy reader guide that makes me eldest feel less down about the fact he’s been crippled from Polio,” writes one Amazon reviewer, while another commenter suggests a list of potential sequels: “Andy’s Amazing AIDS, Carol’s Calm Coma, Adelia’s Addled Alzheimer’s.”
And that’s just the one-star reviews.
Like many controversial books, most of Melanie’s reviews are either one or five stars, but we were expecting the handful of “positive” reviews to be more, well, positive. Instead, it’s more of the same.
One sarcastic five-star review reads:
After contracting polio, measles, and smallpox, my wheelchair-bound, scar-ridden body has never made me feel more alive! My life motto has always been, What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, which is why I’ve also decided to not wear seatbelts and to type this up while driving.
Of course, just in case you’re getting too optimistic here, there are still a fair few anti-vaxxers commenting to support the book, including one conspiracy theorist railing against “big Pharma.”
Let’s be real here: As a result of the current measles outbreak that began in Disneyland, there have been more than 100 confirmed cases across 14 states, 10 of which allow parents to opt out of vaccinations. But hey, perhaps if you read Melanie’s Marvelous Measles and make sure your kids drink some melon juice, they’ll feel better about the oncoming epidemic.
This story has been updated to clarify the meaning of the “Best Books of 2014” badge.
Photo via Amazon/Melanie’s Marvelous Measles