Posts Tagged ‘Judy Blume

21
Jul
17

These books taught me more than any middle school health class. CBR9 Reviews 46 & 47.

Unknown-2I remember the summer that I discovered the “older” section of my local library’s children’s department. It had books by authors like Paula Danziger, Lois Duncan, and the goddess Judy Blume. I tore through them all between 4th and 6th grade (and then moved on to Stephen King). And while I knew that I loved these books, I also knew that I didn’t quite understand everything going on in them. Until health class. And then I understood more than I bargained for.

Honestly, Judy Blume was so far ahead of her time, writing about subjects that nobody else would come near. Not only did she write about what it was like to hit puberty, she did it in great detail, making every kid who read her books — boys and girls — understand that they were not alone. She took regular kid problems, that lots of kids probably were afraid to talk to their parents about, and made them seem normal and manageable.

When I originally read these books, I didn’t realize how alike they were. Margaret and Tony go through really similar life changes in their books, but the stories are simply told through the eyes of a girl in one story, and a boy in the other.

Both kids move to new towns before the start of the school year. Both worry about making new friends. Both start going through puberty, and worry about the changes happening to them, absolutely positive that these changes aren’t normal but afraid to ask about them.

Most of you know about Margaret. She’s one of Judy Blume’s most famous creations. Going into the 6th grade in a new town, Margaret makes friends with her new neighbor, Nancy, and a few of Nancy’s friends. They form a club and talk about boys, bras, and periods. Like with all girls that age, there’s some interesting interactions…a little lying to each other, some friendly (and some not so friendly) competition, and lots of gossip and rumors.

Meanwhile, Margaret is struggling with her faith. Her father is Jewish and her mother is Christian, and Margaret decides that its time for her to figure out just what she is. She spends time praying and arguing with her grandmother about what’s best for her, but she just isn’t sure she’s ready to commit to either religion.

I was glad to see that the book had been updated since I last read it, and that poor Margaret didn’t have to figure out the hooks and belts on her pad when she finally got her period.

Here is the cover of the book when I first read it:

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And here’s the cover of Bunnybean’s version:

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I followed up AYTGIMM with Then Again, Maybe I Won’t, which I actually ended up liking a little bit better this time. I think when I originally read it, I didn’t understand a lot of what Tony was going through. Like, a lot. I had no idea what he was talking about most of the time.

Tony and his family are working class Italian Americans in Jersey City. When Tony’s dad invents an electrical cartridge (???) they suddenly find themselves exceptionally wealthy and move to a mansion on Long Island. Tony tries to fit in, makes a few new friends, but is never completely comfortable with all that comes with his family’s new wealth.

Tony also spends his time being a peeping tom and watching his neighbor’s sister get undressed every night. This bugged the hell out of me.

Meanwhile, Tony suffers from stomach pains whenever something stresses him out. His neighbor (who is even richer than he is) loves to shoplift, and Tony can’t handle it. His mother is obsessed with appearances, and Tony doesn’t like it. His brother has given up his dreams to become a teacher, and Tony thinks he’s a sell out. All of this lands him in the hospital and to sessions with a psychologist, where Tony airs out a lot of his grievances.

Tony wonders about puberty, just like Margaret. And where Margaret struggled with religion, Tony struggles with wealth. But the books are really quite alike, and they hold up pretty well.

Nobody has cell phones or texts, kids listen to records and ride bikes everywhere. And these kids admirably figure things out for themselves, and try to maneuver through their pre-teen years making as few major mistakes as possible. These are good kids, and made other kids realize that they if Margaret and Tony were normal, then they were normal, too.

Thanks, Judy.

 

02
Feb
13

Bunnybean’s #CBR5 Review 1: Fudge-A-Mania by Judy Blume

UnknownI just read Fudge-A-Mania, the third book (first is Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, and then SuperFudge) about Peter Hatcher, his unique little brother Fudge, and the rest of his family (mom, dad, baby sister Tootsie, and Fudge’s crazy bird Uncle Feather). The Hatchers live in New York City, in the same building as Peter’s nemesis, Sheila Tubman (from Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great).

The Hatcher family decides to go on vacation for the summer and they rent out a huge house in Maine. The house is so big that they get some friends to rent it out with them…and it turns out that they are sharing the house with the Tubmans! Peter and Sheila are not too glad about that.

Things get even worse for Peter and Sheila when Peter’s grandmother meets Sheila’s grandfather. They fall in love and get married right there at the summer house. And now Peter and Sheila are sort of related, but they promise each other that they will still hate each other.

Some other fun things happen. Fudge meets a new friend, Peter meets one of his baseball heroes, and Tootsie gives Jimmy Fargo’s dad (who is an important and famous artist) some ideas for his new art.

I liked this book. Fudge is pretty funny, and the parts where Peter and Sheila argue were funny, too.

13
Apr
12

Bunnybean’s #CBR4 Review #14: Superfudge by Judy Blume

Superfudge is book #3 in the series of books about Fudge and Peter Hatcher (I already reviewed Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great).

In this story, Fudge and Peter and their family move to New Jersey for a year.  Lots of stuff happens during the year:  Peter finds out that his mom is going to have another baby and gets worried that the baby will be like Fudge.  They have the baby, and it is a little girl that they call Tootsie (her real name is Tamara Roxanne).  Fudge starts kindergarten, even though he is a year too young (and Fudge calls his teacher Rat Face, because she insists on calling him Farley Drexel instead of Fudge).  They make new friends, and miss their old friends (but not Sheila).

One of the parts I liked best was when Fudge gets a new pet.  He gets a myna bird and he teaches it to talk a little bit.  He names it Uncle Feather and teaches it to say things like “Bonjour” and “Bonjour, stupid”.

Another good part is when Fudge and his fat, bossy friend ride their bikes across town to a deli and a bakery.  The problem is, they don’t tell anyone where they are going and everyone worries all day about where they are.

The next book is Fudge-A-Mania, which I’m sure I’ll write about soon.

02
Feb
12

Bunnybean’s #CBR4 Review #6: Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing is a story about a boy named Peter and his two-year old brother named Fudge.  Fudge is ridiculous!  He thinks he can fly and he loses his two front teeth trying to be a bird.  He smears mashed potatoes on the wall of a restaurant and pours a bowl of peas on his head for no reason.  He ruins Peter’s school project that was due on Monday!

When Fudge turned 3, he had a birthday party.  Peter wanted to leave and be with his friends, but his mom said that he had to stay and help.  One kid threw up, one kid peed on the floor, and the third kid cried the whole time.  It was a disaster!

Peter feels like Fudge gets all the attention all the time, and that he is nothing compared to Fudge.

In the beginning of the book, Peter got a pet turtle at his friend’s birthday party.  The turtle’s name was Dribble and Peter took really good care of him. One day Peter got home from school and was ready to feed Dribble, but Dribble was not in his bowl.  Peter looked everywhere, and then he asked Fudge.  Fudge started smiling and said “in tummy”. It turns out that Fudge had eaten Dribble!  He had to go to the hospital to get Dribble out.  Peter was very mad and sad — mad at Fudge for eating his turtle and sad that nobody cared about Dribble, only Fudge. In the end, Peter’s mom and dad feel sorry for him and his dad comes home with a big box.  Its a dog!  Peter named it Turtle, to remind him of Dribble.

There are three more books about Peter and Fudge and I’m going to read them all.

11
Jan
12

Bunnybean’s #CBR4 Review #2: Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great by Judy Blume

I just read Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great and it was about a girl named Sheila and she is afraid of lots of things. She doesn’t want to admit it to her friends, or to herself.

She and her family move to Tarrytown, New York from New York City for the summer and there is a dog who lives at their rented house, and Sheila is definitely afraid of dogs. She has to learn to swim and she doesn’t like that either.

My favorite part is when she swam all the way to 12 feet and then fell asleep!

She finally learns how to tell the truth and admit things, thanks to her new friends. Especially her best friend, Mouse.




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