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A selection of Healthy Holly books written by Catherine Pugh.
A selection of Healthy Holly books written by Catherine Pugh. (Jerry Jackson / Baltimore Sun)

Mayor Catherine Pugh has come under scrutiny after The Baltimore Sun reported on her deal with the University of Maryland Medical System to distribute copies of her self-published children’s book series.

Pugh, who sits on the medical system’s board of directors, said she conformed with legal disclosure requirements, filing a form about the deal with the Maryland Health Services Cost Review Commission. Her self-published books, dubbed the “Healthy Holly” series, were distributed to schoolchildren and daycare centers.

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So what do they say?

The books follow the life of a young African-American girl named Holly. She loves to jump rope, pick out fruit from the grocery store and play with her little brother, Herbie.

She introduces herself to readers, saying: “The fun part about exercise is that you can do it by yourself or with family and friends. … Welcome to my world where exercising is fun!!!”

Pages from "Healthy Holly: Exercising is Fun!"
Pages from "Healthy Holly: Exercising is Fun!" (Ulysses Muñoz / Baltimore Sun)

The books don’t mention Holly’s age, but she’s old enough to ride a bike — without training wheels.

Holly’s day is filled by outings with her parents, who often talk with their daughter about the importance of staying healthy.

“Exercise is when we walk and ride our bikes. It is when we play tennis. It is when we swim,” Holly’s father says on page 8 of the first installment, “Exercising Is Fun,” as the family plays tennis with an anthropomorphic ball wearing glasses.

Pages from "Healthy Holly: A Healthy Start for Herbie."
Pages from "Healthy Holly: A Healthy Start for Herbie." (Ulysses Muñoz / Baltimore Sun)

In book two, titled “A Healthy Start for Herbie,” Holly’s parents bring home a little brother named Herbie. “This book is all about Herbie growing up healthy,” the introduction reads.

When Holly first meets Herbie, she is curious about his small size. “When will he be able to exercise?” she asks her dad. The family gives the baby milk and fruit to help him grow.

Pages from "Healthy Holly: Fruits Come in Colors Like the Rainbow."
Pages from "Healthy Holly: Fruits Come in Colors Like the Rainbow." (Ulysses Muñoz / Baltimore Sun)

The third book in the series is called “Fruits Come in Colors like the Rainbow.” Holly accompanies her parents on a trip to the grocery store where, as a surprise, she gets to pick out the produce. She places apples, bananas and kiwi straight into her family’s shopping cart.

There is another book in the series titled “Vegetables are Not Just Green.”

The roughly 20-page books end with tips for parents on how to keep their kids healthy.

An image from Mayor Catherine Pugh's "Healthy Holly" book series.
An image from Mayor Catherine Pugh's "Healthy Holly" book series.
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