By Joshua Rhett Miller, ,
Published May 16, 2015
The coordinator behind a children's coloring book that was pulled from FEMA's Web site last week is standing by her work — despite its controversial cover, which shows a child's drawing of New York's Twin Towers on fire with a plane flying toward them.
"A Scary Thing Happened," a downloadable coloring book designed to help children cope with disaster, was developed by Minnesota's Freeborn County Crisis Response Team following a local tornado in 2003. It was posted on The Smoking Gun Web site after FEMA took it down last week.
Coordinator Rose Olmsted said the coloring book has been distributed to "thousands" of children as a way to help them deal with disasters. Even children in Australia colored its pages following that nation's recent wildfires, she said.
"I stand firm that it was a very well thought-out and useful resource for kids," Olmsted told FOXNews.com. "But it's obviously being misinterpreted by a lot of people."
Olmsted, who acknowledged that no 9/11 victim groups were contacted prior to the release of the 25-page coloring book, said the Federal Emergency Management Agency sent a letter to her organization six year ago to recognize a job well done.
"It's not distributed to just any child — it's intended to be used in a number of ways, with parents reading it, pastors, Boy Scout leaders," Olmsted said. "Kids of coloring age have a difficult time speaking about their experiences. When they’re drawing, it's much easier for them to speak about their experiences, and it's very useful in that context."
Olmsted suggested that the controversy over the book was linked to Monday's flyover of Lower Manhattan by a presidential plane and an F-16 jet.
"Is someone trying to link it to that bad press?" Olmsted asked. "We're going to continue using this as a resource. People can disagree, I'm fine with that. There's always going to be differences of opinion."
FEMA officials said the book was removed as part of a review of its Web site.
"The coloring book, which was put online in 2003, was removed last week and FEMA is currently reviewing all web content designed and posted by the previous administration," Clark Stevens, FEMA's press secretary, told FOXNews.com in a statement.
Kim Pressley-Herrick, who runs Coloring Away Pain, a Florida-based company that produces coloring books to help children deal with traumatic events, was shocked when she learned of "A Scary Thing Happened."
"Oh gosh, that was on the front of a coloring book? As a parent, I don't think children need to see that," Pressley-Herrick said. "That's an uplifting coloring book."
Pressley-Herrick said her version of a terrorism-related coloring book for kids does not contain any burning buildings or planes targeting them, but rather features a young zebra named "Maddie" and her grandfather.
"It's a softer approach," she said. "There are absolutely no freaky scenes whatsoever. There are no burning buildings, absolutely not. There are ways of delivering messages to children on their level without being graphic."
Valerie Lucznikowska, who lost her 37-year-old nephew in the 9/11 attacks, said she didn't understand all the fuss.
"Quite frankly, I don't see anything wrong with it," Lucznikowska said. "It's the adults who are screaming that the children are going to be damaged by this, but we move on from disasters and one of the ways to move on is to understand it and put it into context."