February 11, 2015

Melanie’s Marvelous Measles extols the benefits of preventable childhood disease


This isn't Melanie, but she does look prettttty psyched to have measles.

This isn’t Melanie, but she does look prettttty psyched to have measles.

In the midst of a nationwide measles outbreak, currently at 121 people affected in 17 states plus Washington, DC, a book published in 2012 is getting renewed attention. In an author’s statement that Amazon distances itself from, Melanie’s Marvelous Measles is described this way:

Melanie’s Marvelous Measles was written to educate children on the benefits of having measles and how you can heal from them naturally and successfully. Often today, we are being bombarded with messages from vested interests to fear all diseases in order for someone to sell some potion or vaccine, when, in fact, history shows that in industrialized countries, these diseases are quite benign and, according to natural health sources, beneficial to the body. Having raised three children vaccine-free and childhood disease-free, I have experienced many times when my children’s vaccinated peers succumb to the childhood diseases they were vaccinated against. Surprisingly, there were times when my unvaccinated children were blamed for their peers’ sickness. Something which is just not possible when they didn’t have the diseases at all.

If you read that and don’t even know where to begin, how about here, with this stunning display of empathy: the title of the book is apparently a riff on Roald Dahl’s 1981 bookGeorge’s Marvellous Medicine. Dahl’s daughter died when she was seven due to, yes, measles. (In 1988, he wrote a plea to parents that they vaccinate their children.)

As we all know by now, measles is highly contagious but also highly preventable. And as Michael Schaub notes at the LA Times, some people are taking out their frustration with the anti-vaccine movement in the form of Amazon reviews. 

The ratings of “Melanie’s Marvelous Measles” from Amazon users have been harsh. The book has more than 1,100 reviews on the site, more than 900 of which give the book one star, the lowest possible rating. One reviewer complains that the book isn’t available in all formats: “My infant daughter went blind after contracting measles from an unvaccinated child, and yet there’s no braille version of this wonderful book for me to give her someday to explain to her how awesome the disease that took her sight away is.” Another reviewer sarcastically recommends “other fine titles from the same author,” including “Doug’s Delightful Dysentery” and “Luther’s Lucky Lupus.”

Most of the five star reviews aren’t any better: “Looking forward to the sequel: Melanie’s Mum’s Marvelous Munchausen,” “Kill Your Kids The Responsible Way!, and “Can’t Recommend This Enough!”

This is an excellent book for children! It gets children used to the idea of being maimed for life or dying outright due to preventable diseases thanks to their parents not loving them enough to learn even the rudimentary aspects of basic science, and when a child is burning up from fever or rotting from leprosy, reading about Melanie’s totally excellent adventures with preventable measles lets kids know that *other* children’s parents also don’t love them, they’re not alone in being hated by their parents.

If Melanie’s Marvelous Measles sounds like a good read to you, check out the other books that Amazon helpfully points you to, among them My Parents Open Carry and Raising Boys Feminists Will Hate

Julia Fleischaker is a former director of marketing and publicity at Melville House.