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Wisconsin school board member wants to ban Muppets book 'For Every Child, a Better World'

Wisconsin school board member wants to ban Muppets book 'For Every Child, a Better World'
Kermit the Frog and Gonzo appear in the new Muppets television show. A Muppets book is being challenged by a school board member in Wisconsin. (Eric McCandless / ABC)

It's not easy being green — especially in Marshfield, Wis., where a school board member is trying to have a children's book featuring the Muppets pulled from the kindergarten curriculum.

Mary Carney, a teacher and chairwoman of the Central Wisconsin Tea Party, has a problem with the book "For Every Child, a Better World," the Marshfield News-Herald reports. Carney worries that the book could traumatize students with its depictions of children living in poverty.

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"Unfortunately in this world there is a lot of war and strife and poverty; I understand that," Carney said. "I just don't know how appropriate that is to be teaching that to five-year-olds."

The book, published in 1993 by Golden Press, is "written" by Kermit the Frog ("as told to Louise Gikow and Ellen Weiss"). It was produced in cooperation with the United Nations as a fundraiser for the organization, and contains illustrations of hungry Muppet-like children without food.

Carney pointed to online reviews of the book to back up her claim that the book is too upsetting for kids. On the book's Goodreads page, one user gave it one star out of five, writing, "The motivations and idea behind this book are laudable. That being said, this is easily one of the books that, had I found it as a three-four-five year old, I would have been traumatized by." Her comments were followed by a "frownie" emoticon.

On Amazon, the book was reviewed by 14 users, who overwhelmingly approved of it. One reader commented, "The illustrations ... ably and accurately depict the full implications of the straightforward, uncomplicated text without ever becoming too emotionally difficult or overwhelming for preschoolers."

According to the nonprofit Feeding America, 14% of American households were "food insecure" in 2014. Households with children experience food insecurity at higher rates: In those headed by single women, 35% report food insecurity; 26% of black non-Hispanic households do; and 22% of Hispanic households do.

One Marshfield school board member, Amber Leifheit, defended the use of the book in the kindergarten curriculum. "I believe it shows compassion for people other than yourself. I think that's a good thing," she said.

This isn't the first time this year that Jim Henson's characters have sparked a controversy. In September, the conservative Christian group One Million Moms urged a boycott of the new ABC series "The Muppets," complaining that the show is "perverted."

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