Pat Earle, who operates a literacy program, the First R Foundation, told The Boston Globe people offended by the book, called "It's A Book," have been filling her in-box with offensive e-mails. Earle made "It's A Book" her choice for first-graders and offered copies to elementary schools in Gloucester and Rockport.
"This is the first time I have had people who don't know me say nasty things about me," Earle said. "I'm 'subversive.' I'm 'poisoning children's minds.' They feel they can say anything. This whole public discourse becomes so uncivil."
The characters in "It's A Book," include a donkey who has trouble understanding how anything without a wireless connection and batteries can be entertaining.
Lane Smith, the author and illustrator of "It's A Book," said the work has sold well across the country and been translated into 20 languages without offense.
"I can't say that I'm amused or excited by the controversy,'' Smith said. "Mostly this makes me uncomfortable.''