West Hempstead author Ann Koffsky intended her latest book, “Judah Maccabee Goes to the Doctor: A Story for Hanukkah,” to instill bravery in children who get vaccinated. When her book was published in August, however, readers on Amazon criticized her story.
“My initial reaction was, ‘hey, why is my book down to one-star?’,” Koffsky said.
Some of the comments read, “This book is filled with lies”, “very upsetting”, “nonsense”, and “worthless junk.”
“It’s just disappointing because it’s not like the comments were there to spark an open discussion, Koffsky said, “and they weren’t fact-finding comments. They were just downright mean.”
Koffsky, who has published many books in her career, said that she’s never had any controversy with her previous stories. The negative comments stemmed from people who are a part of the anti-vaxxer movement — a small group that believes there are health risks linked to vaccinations.
“This wasn’t meant to be a political book,” Koffsky said, “but it was born from the fact that I saw that the anti-vaxxer issue was around.”
Koffsky said she didn’t plan to write this story to convince parents to vaccinate their children. Instead, she said, it was meant to give support to those who were already making that choice.
“That’s where this story can be very useful,” Koffsky said. “People who maybe don’t have access to that information, this book makes it very accessible for them and kids, too.”
A mother of three children, Koffsky said that one of her kids used to be afraid of shots, which also inspired her to write the book. Fearlessness is one of the main values that she wants readers to take away from this book.
“This book has universal values, not just Jewish values,” Koffsky said. “Caring about the community, and knowing that health is a value and that it’s something we have to take care of. That’s what’s most important.”
Koffsky added that through these valuable lessons, people should celebrate the victories over their fears. With support from her friends and members of the Jewish community, Koffsky’s book reviews have gone up.
“It wasn’t just people who celebrate Hanukkah who were coming forward and enjoying the book,” she said. “There were a number of comments from families who enjoyed the story and they were happy about Hanukkah. It was a good feeling to know that there was a lot of people who could enjoy this book in different places that it was helping them in their families.”
Now, Koffsky’s book is rated at four and a half stars out of five.