Jump to content

Menu

Sincere question: What's good/bad about Judy Blume?


Recommended Posts

I did not read these books as a child, but I think I remember that some people here really don't care for her books. Obviously, not everyone agrees because there are scads of titles still making the charts by this author.

 

So, what's the skinny on Blume?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Virginia Dawn

I only remember what I read as a child, Are You There God - It's Me Margaret, and the ones about the kid and his little brother. I think the worst thing about those was that I felt the need to read the first secretly because of the stigma attached. My mother was not a reader, and she didn't have the slightest idea what I was reading most of the time.

 

You could also say that there were attitudes of disrespect and disobedience in some of the books that were made to seem very funny. I don't remember being very impressed by the Margaret one, and the others were just fun for a middle school kid.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I really don't. I, like you, know there's some controversy...:confused:

 

My experience was Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing read to the class when we were in fourth grade. I loved it. The entire class couldn't wait until reading time.

 

Edited: I just relooked up the other book I read, and it wasn't by J.B. *doh*. So, forget what I said. And maybe look here instead:

 

Judy Blume site

 

Or from Wiki: (Judy Blume on Wiki)

Blume's novels for elementary schoolers were among the first to tackle such controversial matters as racism (Iggie's House), menstruation (Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret), divorce (It's Not the End of the World), bullying (Blubber), masturbation (Deenie; Then Again, Maybe I Won't) and teenage sexuality (Forever). Fans of Blume's novels have praised her use of real-life settings, ambivalent endings and gentle humor. Her allegedly ambiguous treatment of moral issues made her at one time a regular target of school library censors and the religious right. Her books are still often challenged in school libraries; in fact, Forever was the second most challenged book of 2005, according to the American Library Association. She is recognized as one of the most banned children's authors in the United States[3] which eventually led her to edit a collection of short stories about censorship (Places I Never Meant to Be: Original Stories by Censored Writers). Despite ardent attempts at censorship Blume's young adult novels and books for children have sold 65 million copies world wide.[4]
Link to comment
Share on other sites

the one I remember in particular was Are You There God, it's Me, Margaret. All the girls read it in 5th or 6th grade as I recall. I don't remember much about it except it was about a girl in the onset of puberty quite obsessed with getting her cycle and developing BooKs. She was also confused about God and who she was religiously. It was a fine book, nothing all the shocking as it was published in 1970, but I think I would be careful when my dd got her hands on it-- not too early.

 

I don't think she writes great literature, not even as good as Beverly Cleary, but I do think most kids find her work entertaining. I think she has a series of books with a character named Fudge. I never read those. I think, for the most part, they are twaddlish, but probably not harmful. I do think there is some bevavior in some that goes undisciplined and some find that alarming.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I read these as a child and loved them. I found the stories compelling and I could relate to the characters.

 

I have also read some of them again as an adult. The writing is simplistic, the characters aren't very nice to eachother (especially in the Fudge books), and now I don't find the characters interesing or likable at all.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I remember reading Are you There God It's Me Margaret as a child, too. It's not something I'd care for my dd to read. I do, however, remember another book of hers that was pretty "sexual" in nature. I can't for the life of me remember the title but what I can remember is that a particular male body part was named, "Ralph". Don't ask me how I remember that! I think it was a one word title. Okay, this is going to kill me all day. Was it Judy Blume? I'm pretty certain it was one of hers.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I remember reading Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret when I was in 5th grade. It really spoke to me because my own mother did not discuss anything with me. I think the biggest controversy is her book Forever which had adult themes with questionable values. I remember reading Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing with my son. We talked about some of the issues.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Are You There God - It's Me Margaret

 

I remember reading this book and Forever, but cannot remember which scene belongs to which book. There was a scene where the girl's dad either walked in on his daughter and someone else having s*x or something happened that alerted him that she was having s*x. Classmates and I all read various descriptions around the cafeteria table -- all feeling we were being sneaky. I remember the feeling I was left with was that her Dad was uncool for not understanding. It was a very "my parents don't understand me" kind of book. I remember finding it very descriptive when I read it in junior high. I was not a sheltered girl, and I began dating at 14.

 

Oh, the main character in one of them has an abortion too. Again, I knew a girl in school who had an abortion at 14, but I don't want my kids getting their opinions on abortion from a book like this.

 

I honestly can tell you I don't remember learning anything about God in the book! :lol:

 

So, I personally won't read anything Judy Blume or recommend it to anyone.

 

I just read that erec_ions are discussed in "Then again, maybe I won't."

 

I just don't need books like that -- we're pretty open with our sons about these sorts of things, but we don't need books showing how other kids deal with this info and showing their relationships with their parents.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Honestly, I can't remember what I disliked about her. It's been a long time since I read any of her books. I read a few when I was in middle school and just remember thinking they were weird and stupid and silly. The one I remember most is Are You There God? It's Me Margaret. Maybe I wasn't prepared for some of the topics--mental maturity being ahead of physical and emotional maturity--but it just made me feel icky and strange and I didn't enjoy any part of the story. I wouldn't have finished the book, but I have this strange problem with not being able to put a book down once I've started. The only book I've been able to not finish is The Last of the Mohicans, and I think that was just because I was incredibly busy as well. Maybe I should give Judy Blume another chance, but I think I may have outgrown her before I even reached the age of her target audience.

 

I do have one memory about that particular book that is funny now as I look back on it. I couldn't understand what the big deal was about a diaphragm or the context it was being used in. Everyone has one, right? I asked my mom and she was so incredibly uncomfortable answering that question. :lol: I think she may actually have told me to look up alternate meanings in the dictionary. I learned everything I knew about sex from school and peers and I think it was probably better that way in my case:D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When I was in school some kids were secretly passing around a copy of Judy Blume's book, Wifey. It was probably the closest to porn I'd ever seen. Honestly, it's been about 25 years since I read that book, and I still remember scenes in it that make me blush.

~J~

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I tend to ignore hoopla concerning Judy Blume's books. I read all of them and loved them, although I really don't think that my mother knew what they were about.;)

 

My boys read Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and Superfugde. They really enjoyed them and I loved hearing laughter ringing from their rooms. I don't think that they have any interest in the others because the titles alone suggest that they are "girl" books.:D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I do have one memory about that particular book that is funny now as I look back on it. I couldn't understand what the big deal was about a diaphragm or the context it was being used in. Everyone has one, right? I asked my mom and she was so incredibly uncomfortable answering that question. :lol: I think she may actually have told me to look up alternate meanings in the dictionary. I learned everything I knew about sex from school and peers and I think it was probably better that way in my case:D

 

That is a VERY funny story!

 

I think Judy Blume is known for two types of books. One is the "Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing" group, which includes the Fudge books and "Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great" and I think a few more. They are for slightly younger kids (3rd, 4th, 5th grade?) and deal with some sort of difficult topics (divorce, bullying), but are very funny and I think kids can really relate to them. I always liked how Sheila is the enemy/borderline bully in "Fourth Grade Nothing" and then you get her side of the story in "Shiela the Great" and it completely changes the character into someone the reader can identify with.

 

The second set maybe can be described as the puberty books. They are for older kids, middle school to high school (depending on the books) and deal with much more difficult topics about puberty and adolescence. When they first came out they were seen as borderline obscene, and I think many people still think of them as such. But they really struck a chord with girls for that reason: they dealt with issues that girls wanted to know about but no one would tell them. I know of so many women who didn't find out about menstruation until they actually got their first period! They had no preparation or really no idea what was happening. I know of other

women who first found out about menstruation from Judy Blume books: at least they were prepared when they started bleeding!

 

I was pretty lucky (I think) in that I grew up in a household that was fairly open about educating my sister and me about puberty/sex, and that I went to a school that had a surprisingly intensive sex ed class. I personally HATED "Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret" because I could NOT imagine why ANYONE would want boobs or their period! And I still can't. :)

 

I think the first set of books are pretty hard to find fault with, especially since I personally think it's hard to find good books for boys for the age those books are written for. Your mileage on the second set will vary based on your political and religious views.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As a child I loved Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.. During the time that my older girls would have enjoyed Judy Blume I was in my I-can't-think-for-myself phase, "they" said Judy Blume was bad and that was good enough for me.

 

Fast forward to now, when I can indeed think for myself. The kids and I are in the library and I am trying to encourage dd (10) to read something other than American Girl books. (She has read them all. Multiple times.) I remember how much I loved that Judy Blume book as I notice a whole shelf of JB books nearby. I say "Hey, Doodlebug, how about one of these?" DD (17) grabs one to look at it and says "I never read these." And she starts scanning the page. And her eyes get bigger and bigger. She says "Um, Mom, I don't think you want her reading this." I look at the page she is on and, yeah, it's pretty "adult". I can't recall now which book we had in our hands, but we put it back on the shelf and directed the doodlebug elsewhere.

 

So, I guess if we do any Judy Blume books I will have to preread each and every one. We'll see. I am just not dealing with this right now. There are plenty of good books to choose from.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My only experience is when my dc were small. They were listening to the Fudge books on tape & their attitudes went through the floor.:eek: After that, no more Judy Blume (& she even lives here during the winter so I have to keep that hush hush at the library. :))

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I cant believe I am jumping in here on this one!!

 

I know several famiiles who will not let their youngers read the younger series due to the attitudes of the characters in the books. They site complaints such as whining, bad attitude, disrespect, etc. I can agree that we see enough of that either in real life or through media, we probably dont need to read books about poor attitude,etc.

 

The puberty books are really a personal thing for each family and each child.

 

There are some families we know who are really, really conservative. Dds cant wear bathing suits and Ds cant go shirtless for example. They would find these books and others like them inappropriate and perhaps even ofensive.

 

There are a few families I know who would have no trouble at all with them. Many of the moms would read the books too in order to have open discussions with their dc. They would view it as a springboard for communication.

 

Honestly, reading these books - or not- is a personal question - perhaps like the Harry Potter books. It is a choice each parent must make based on their beliefs and their parenting style and the nature/maturity of their dc.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think the first set of books are pretty hard to find fault with, especially since I personally think it's hard to find good books for boys for the age those books are written for. Your mileage on the second set will vary based on your political and religious views.

 

The thing is, I'm pretty liberal about books (and movies and TV and music) and although I would not forbid my kids to read Judy Blume's books, I can't imagine ever recommending them to any kid. I have to admit that I never read the younger set of books, though. I just remember how the older set made me feel more confused and more awkward--which is hard to believe is even possible. I just did not relate to any of the characters at all. So, my objection to her books is not moral or religious, just a matter of personal taste. I don't think I'm at all prudish, considering what some of my favorite books and movies are:D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

...some of her books are adult only - Wifey would be one of those, she has at least one other, I know because I bought it and never finished reading it...something about a beach maybe?...I sold it in a garage sale!

 

My personal favorite and one I bought for my DD when she turned 11 was Are You There God?, it's Me, Margaret. I remember reading it in junior high and wishing I had read it a couple of years before I did...it was not an option at our K-5 library.

 

We also have some of the Fudge books. I remember a lot of fuss when I was in 8th grade about a book called Tiger's Eye - you had to have a signed note from a parent to check it out. I thought it was boring and never finished it either...of course, my signed note was that my mom allowed me to read Harlequin romance books!:lol:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The thing is, I'm pretty liberal about books (and movies and TV and music) and although I would not forbid my kids to read Judy Blume's books, I can't imagine ever recommending them to any kid. I have to admit that I never read the younger set of books, though. I just remember how the older set made me feel more confused and more awkward--which is hard to believe is even possible. I just did not relate to any of the characters at all. So, my objection to her books is not moral or religious, just a matter of personal taste. I don't think I'm at all prudish, considering what some of my favorite books and movies are:D

 

I think I came off sounding more black-and-white than I meant to. As I said, I didn't really like them either, but not because of prudishness: it was also just a matter of personal taste!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm grinning at myself because I HAVE read Blume. I just didn't remember it was her. I read "Are You There God.." at some point, probably late junior or early high school, and I know that I could very much relate to it -- though I could not have told you that it included anything about diaphragms! I was a girl who *wanted* booKs and my period because they were both so late in coming that I thought there must be something wrong with me! :001_huh: So, it was helpful to read about another girl who felt similarly, I guess. And, I think I always struggled with religion, to some degree, so there you go - a perfect match.

 

As for Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing...I have to admit to having picked the book up for my 11 year old dd yesterday at the library. (I did so after seeing the title mentioned in *anj's* post about "What Kids Read/Not Harry Potter") So, my question here was just a bit of a leading one, though I didn't let you know that at first.

 

I brought the book home yesterday evening, about 6:00 pm, along with two audiobooks. My dd's dyslexia means she really gravitates toward audio, thus it's not a simple matter to get her invovled in reading a book at all, even one below grade level. So, I showed her the various things I'd chosen. Referring to Fourth Grade Nothing, I said something simple like, "I've heard lots of kids like this book. Maybe you will, too."

 

I gotta tell you people, my dd read the entire evening! Before dinner. After dinner, up to bedtime. And, again first thing this morning until she'd read THE WHOLE BOOK! For her, that is really saying something.

 

So, controversy or no, I'm pretty happy with Ms. Blume just now. ;)

 

I do, though, appreciate knowing about the bigger picture of why some like or don't like her. It will help me to be more aware of which titles I'm selecting.

 

 

Thanks, everybody!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We also have some of the Fudge books. I remember a lot of fuss when I was in 8th grade about a book called Tiger's Eye - you had to have a signed note from a parent to check it out. I thought it was boring and never finished it either...of course, my signed note was that my mom allowed me to read Harlequin romance books!:lol:

 

Tiger Eyes sounded familiar, so I looked it up. That's another one I read in middle school, and I actually remember thinking it was okay. I'm not sure what I would think of it now and I don't remember too many specifics about it since I read it long ago. I didn't even remember it as being a Judy Blume book. I don't remember being overly impressed with it, just that it wasn't bad. There are plenty of books I remember well from that age because they stood out for excellent writing. This just wasn't one that really stood out.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I read many of her books as a young girl. Now I can't imagine my daughter reading them, especially so young. So far she has not yet picked one up from the library.

 

I read Margaret of course, Tales of a 4th grade, Blubber, Forever (would NOT want my young girl reading this. There was s*x and a character got an abortion.)

 

I also am pretty liberal about "the arts" but I would steer clear of JB books.

 

Also, there was a lot of focus on "school life" in her books and my kids just don't have that kind of life and we think alot of the social stuff in the schools that goes on is just nonsense (one reason why we homeschool). I suppose a kid who goes to school would find some comfort in her books like Blubber and Tales of a 4th grade nothing.

 

There is also a book called Then Again Maybe I Won't which is about a boy and his puberty and he looks out his window and spys on his neighbor and gets worked up and well, you can imagine the rest.

 

I have no problem with these issues being discussed and written about but I always felt that JB books did contribute to my cavilaer attidue about s*x (among other things I read and saw as a young girl). I just think the JB books made some things more "appealing". Yes in forever, they broke up shortly after s*x and a girl had an abortion. So there were consequences and not a happily ever after. But for some reason, JB's books just did more to raise my curiosity and contribute to some of my stupid teenage behavior rather than teach me anything worth while.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The only one I remember reading is Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. I think the good thing about this book is that it lets kids know that the weird feelings they have during puberty are normal. I also had a mom who didn't tell me anything about sex or growing up.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I remember liking Deenie. Dd12 read Blume's bks last year. She liked the few she read, but found them rather tame compared to some of the "pre-teen" bks popular today. The funny thing is that she has grown tired of the teen popular fiction already and is venturing more and more into the classics and adult section. What more could a mother ask!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The thing is, I'm pretty liberal about books (and movies and TV and music) and although I would not forbid my kids to read Judy Blume's books, I can't imagine ever recommending them to any kid...I just remember how the older set made me feel more confused and more awkward--which is hard to believe is even possible. I just did not relate to any of the characters at all. So, my objection to her books is not moral or religious, just a matter of personal taste. I don't think I'm at all prudish, considering what some of my favorite books and movies are:D

 

This is me, almost exactly. I didn't remember feeling more awkward or confused...but definitely titallated. (Please tell me I'm spelling that right).

 

And I'm not what you'd call prudish, either. (Well, I might be prudish according to someone's standards, lol, but with a bunch of conscientious ladies like y'all...I'm probably on the other end of the spectrum :D).

 

Just...not something I'd recommend to my kids. The themes seem a little old for some of the target audience (might just be my kids), and the manner of dealing with them...well, just odd. That's the only way I know to say it.

 

My oldest daughter (14yo) has read some pretty heavy stuff (she usually still asks for my opinion before she reads something, even though it's not something I insist on) that I've had to really warn her about recommending to (more conservative) friends (dealing with sexuality, homosexuality, drug use)...and I'd still steer her away from "Forever", and maybe even something like "Deenie". Can't really articulate why, maybe a style issue? Not much finesse when broaching those topics, lol?

 

Personal preference.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I tend to ignore hoopla concerning Judy Blume's books. I read all of them and loved them, although I really don't think that my mother knew what they were about.;)

 

This would be true of me as well.

 

I read a good many of her books. Some of the adult themes went over my head. In Deenie, for instance, there is a scene where she is, uh, pleasuring herself. When I was grown, my hometown school system wanted to ban the book. It wasn't until then that I knew what the scene in the book was about. As a naive junior higher, I thought she was just rubbing a sore back:blush:

 

My favorite was Starring Sally J. Friedman as Herself. I believe it's supposed to be a loose autobiography; it takes place during WWII. I remember being surprised that some people in the USA didn't care for Jews, either.

 

Melissa

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I read most of her books. Although I haven't recommended them to my dd (who doesn't like any books, sadly), I don't think they are the worst thing a girl taht age could read. I have heard of books these days that would make Blume's books seem tame...Rainbow Party or something like that comes to mind!

 

Blume's books are very interesting and real life, but she does talk about periods, b**bs, mast*rb*tion, etc.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...