A new generation discovers the poet laureate of puberty.
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like dozens ofthousands of young people before me, I wrote to Judy Blume because something strange was happening to my body.
I had just returned from visiting the author in Key West when I noticed a series of small, bright red bites running up my right leg. I was sure they were bedbugs - and afraid I'd given them to Blume, on whose couch I'd sat a few days earlier.
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I figured that if the creatures had hitchhiked into my hotel room, as I suspected, the most polite—though disgusting—thing to do would be to warn Blume that some might be hiding in its upholstery as well.
In Key West and Brooklyn, beds were taken apart, expensive inspections were done: nothing. After a few days I had no new bites. I was relieved, though even more embarrassed. I apologized to Blume for the false alarm and she responded with a "Phew!" She hoped we'd put the matter behind us.
The next morning, another email popped up in my inbox:
Amy – When I get bitten by No-See-Ums (so small you can't even see them and you ate them on your porch at night) – I have a reaction, it itches a lot and the bites get really red and big. They usually bite in a row.
It was "just a thought," she wrote. "xxx J."
Here was Judy Blume, the author who has given us some of American literature's most memorable early periods, wet dreams and preteen desperate bargains with God, calmly and empathetically telling me that undesirable bodily development was nothing to be ashamed of or fear because - that in reality it was also something that had happened to his body. Maybe on some level I was looking for such reassurance when I emailed her in the first place. Who better to experience a bed bug scare?
For over 50 years, Blume has been a beloved and trusted guide for children who are confused, terrified, or excited about what is happening to them and who are trying to understand, whetherodeal with friendship, love, sex, envy, sibling rivalry, breast size (too small, too big), religion, race, class, death, or dermatology. Blume's 29 books have sold over 90 million copies. new YorkDaily Newsonce referred to her as "Miss Lonelyhearts, Mister Rogers and Dr. Ruth rolled into one." By the 1980s, she was receiving 2,000 letters a month from dedicated readers. "I'm not trying to pity you," wrote a typical 11-year-old. “What I want is for someone to say to me, 'You're going to survive this.' I thought you might be that person.
Blume, now 85, says he's probably finished writing, that the novel he published in 2015 was his last major book. She no longer receives many handwritten letters, although she still interacts with readers onthe non-profit bookstorethat she and her husband, George Cooper, founded in Key West in 2016. Some fans, women who grew up reading Blume, cry when they meet her. "Judy, hello!" exclaimed a middle-aged visitor when I was there, as if greeting an old friend. She was from Scotch Plains, New Jersey, where Blume raised her two sons in the '60s and '70s, although she admitted the author would have had no reason to know her personally. "Well hello and welcome!" Blume said.
Blume also loves meeting kids at the store. Usually, though, she avoids making recommendations in the young adult section — not so much for the sake of the kids as for the sake of their parents. "Parents are like thatcriticalabout children's book choices, she told me. “They're always, you know, 'What is this?' Let me see that.' You mean, 'Leave them alone.' ” (Key West is a tourist town and not everyone knows that going toJudy Blumebookstore.)
This parental anxiety is all too familiar to Blume. In the 1980s, her candid depictions of puberty and adolescent sexuality made her a favorite target of would-be censors. Her books are no longer availableThe American Library Association's list of the 10 most challenged books, which is now filled with novels featuring queer and trans protagonists. However, Blume's titles are still the subject of banning attempts. Last year, the Brevard County chapter of Moms for Liberty, a Florida-based right-wing group, sought to obtainForever …plucked from the elementary school shelves there (the novel tells the story of two high school students who fall in love, have sex, and - spoiler - don't stay together forever). Also in 2022, a Christian group in Fredericksburg, Texas called Make Schools Safe Again was targetedThen again maybe I won't(mentions masturbation).
Thosecampaignsit's a backhanded compliment of sorts, an acknowledgment of Blume's continued relevance. Her books remain popular, in part because a generation that grew up reading Blume is now old enough to introduce her to their own children. Some place crumpled brochures in their children's hands; others call their agent. In April, director Kelly Fremon Craig's film adaptation of Blume's 1970 novelAre you there God? it's me, daisywill debut in theaters. Jenna Bush Hager Brings Blume's Romancesummer sistersfor television. (Hager and her twin sister, Barbara Pierce Bush, said thissummer sistersis the book that taught them about sex.) Onecheered upSuperfudgefilmis coming to Disney+ and Netflix is evolvinga series based onForever … . This winter, the documentaryJudy Blume foreverpremiered at the Sundance Film Festival(will stream on Amazon Prime Video this spring).
Today's 12-year-olds have the entire Internet at their disposal; they hardly need novels to learn about puberty and sex. But kids are still kids trying to figure out who they are and what they believe. They get bullied, break up, make best friends. They look around, as children always do, for adults who understand.
They – we – still need Judy Blume.
I have minefirst email from Blume two weeks before my trip. "Hi Amy - This is Judy in Key West," she wrote. "I just want to make sure her trip is going well." I hadn't planned on hearing the subject of my story about the tedious logistics of the visit, but these details were exactly what Blume wanted to discuss: when my flight landed, where I lived, why I should live elsewhere. Did I need a ride from the airport?
The advice continued when I arrived: where to eat, the importance of staying hydrated, why she prefers bottled water over Key West tap. (Blume also gently guided me on what to do when my water at my first night's dinner went down the wrong pipe and I started to choke. "I know how it feels," she offered.) Tuck my chin toward my chest.) There was I forgot to bring a hat, so Blume lent me one to drive around in his teal Mini Convertible and stroll along the beach. New York winter, she said:You decide” in the sense of the Jewish mother meansDon't blame me when you get sunburnt and get skin cancer. I put my hat on.
Blume and Cooper came here on a whim in the 1990s, in another New York winter, when Blume was trying to finishsummer sisters. "I would say to George, 'I wonder how many summers I have left,'" Blume recalled. "He said, 'You know, you could have twice as much if you lived somewhere warm.' (Cooper, a former Columbia law professor, was once an avid sailor.) Eventually, they started spending most of the year here .
Blume is enjoying a good renovation project and she and Cooper have lived in various places on the island over the years. They now own a pair of condos right on the beach in a 1980s building whose pink shutters and stucco arches didn't quite prepare me for the airy, elegant space they've created inside, filled with art, books and comfy seating. to read. while looking out to sea. In the kitchen, there's a turquoise and pink tea towel with a picture of an empty sundae dish.I'm going to the end.
At one end of the apartment is a large office where Blume and one of her assistants work when she is not at the bookstore. Her desk faces the water and is full of handwritten notes and doodles she makes while talking on the phone. She plays Wordle every day with the same first and second words:TOILEeSICK.
Normally, Blume said, she sleeps with the balcony door open to listen to the waves, although she fears thunderstorms, so much so that she used to hide in a closet when they hit. This apartment has thick hurricane glass that reduces noise, and now, with a good eye mask, Blume can handle waiting out a storm.
Blume spoke of his bodily worries and afflictions without the slightest bit of embarrassment. When I visited her, she was still recovering from a bout of pneumonia, a side effect of a medication prescribed to treat persistent urinary tract infections. It had been months since she'd felt like riding a bicycle - a vehicle with bright spots painted by a local artist - or walking at the pace she used to (although our morning walk was, in my opinion, quite healthy). Lately, she's been eating flatbread and butter to try to gain some of the weight she'd lost over the summer.
Blume's fictional characters are memorably preoccupied with comparing heights, bra sizes, and kissing techniques, like Blume herself in her preteens and teens. Today, when she has lunch with her childhood friends Mary and Joanne, with whom she is close, the three talk about things like hearing aids, which Mary recently argued should be avoided because they make you look old. But Joanne said nothing makes someone look older than having to ask "What?" all the time, and Blume, a few weeks after wearing his first pair, was glad he listened to Joanne.
Your body is changing, still. "I must be five and four. I haveAlwaysit was five past four,” Blume said over breakfast on her porch. “And recently the new doctor in New York measured me and I said, 'It better be five and four.' "It was 5 foot 3 and a quarter. 'I said no!' And yet, I have to tell you, all this year I've been saying to George, 'I feel less.' It's such a strange feeling.
She knows it happens to everyone eventually, but she thought she had a competitive advantage: tap dancing, which she swears is good for keeping her posture intact and her back strong. Her favorite teacher no longer works in Key West. But some nights, Cooper wants to perform Chet Baker's speedy version of "Tea for Two," and she has no choice. "I have to stop and tap dance."
before she wentJudy Blume, writer and tap dancer, she was Judy Sussman, who danced ballet—"That's what Jewish girls did"—and made up stories she kept to herself. She grew up in Elizabeth, New Jersey, where her father, Rudolph Sussman, was a dentist and the kind of person everyone trusted; patients of hers came to the office just to talk. Her mother, Esther, did not work. Her brother David, four years her senior, was a loner who "should be a genius" but struggled in school. Blume distinguished himself by trying very hard to please his parents. "I knew my job made the family happy because it wasn't his job," she told me.
She felt that her mother in particular expected perfection. "I didn't doubt my parents' love for me, but I didn't think they understood me or had any idea what I was really like," she wrote. "I just assumed that parents never understand their children. That there's a lot of pretending in family life."
As a child, Blume readouncebooks and Nancy Drew. The first novels she felt she could identify with were Maud Hart LovelacesBetsy-Tacybooks. When she was 11, the book she most wanted to read was by John O'Hara.A rage to live,but she was not allowed(There's lots of sex, plus an awkward mother-daughter conversation about menstruation). She read other titles she found on her parents' shelves:damn youth,East,As Adventures by Augie March.
In the late 1940s, David developed kidney disease, and to help him recover, the Sussmans decided that Esther and her mother would take the children to Miami Beach for the school year (Rudolph stayed in New Jersey so he could continue to work). . Blume's 1977 novel,Med Sally J. Freedman as Herself, is based on this time in your life. Her main character, 10-year-old Sally, is smart, curious, and observant, occasionally in ways that get her in trouble. She asks her mother why the black family she befriends on the train must switch cars when she arrives in the South, and is furious when her mother, who admits it may not be fair, tells her that segregation is just "the way it is." ". It has vivid, sometimes gruesome, fantasy sequences about a personal confrontation with Hitler.
When Sally discovers that her aunt back home is pregnant, she writes a celebratory letter full of euphemisms that she only half understands; her earnest desire to discuss the matter in adult terms, even as she confesses her continued obscurity about some important details, provides delicious Blumeian humour: "Congratulations! I'm so happy to hear that Uncle Jack has finally planted the seed." What Sally really wants to know is "how did you have the baby".
Blume, who hit puberty late, had similar questions at that age. She faked period pains when a friend got her period in sixth grade and even wore a tampon to school that her friend could feel through her clothes as proof. When she was 14 and still hadn't gotten her period, Esther picked her up from school one day and took her to a gynecologist's office. Blume later recalled that the doctor barely spoke to her. "He put my feet in stirrups and without warning examined me." She cried all the way home. "Why didn't you tell me he was going to do this?" she asked her mother. "I didn't mean to scare you," replied the mother. Blume was furious.
His father, the dentist, was a little more helpful. When she got impetigo at school as a teenager, she developed sores on her face and scalp — and "down there," as she put it. "I asked my dad how I was going to tell the doctor that I felt so deprived somewhere," wrote Blume. "My dad told me the right way to say it. The next day I went to the doctor and told him I had pubic hair too." Blume "turned purple" and said the words, but the doctor was unmoved. She learned that there was power in language, in knowing how to talk about her body in direct and precise terms.
She went to NYU where she majored in early childhood education. She married her first husband, a lawyer named John Blume, while still in college. For their honeymoon, Blume unwrapped a copyLady Chatterley's loverthat his brother brought home from Europe. It was still banned in the United States. "This book made astorehoneymoon,” she said.
Blume graduated from college in 1961; that same year, her daughter, Randy, was born, and in 1963, she had her son, Larry. She always loved babies and loved raising her own. But being a Scotch Plains housewife gave her stomach aches - a physical manifestation, she later said, of her dissatisfaction.
“I desperately needed creative work,” Blume told me. "It wasn't something we were raised to think about in the 50s, 40s. What happens to a creative kid growing up? Where do you find that outlet?"
Blume spent "God knows how long" making elaborate decorations for dinner parties -- for a pink and green-themed "Night in Paris," she created a glittering scene on the playroom wall complete with the River Seine and a woman selling crepe paper flowers of a carriage. She was never – still isn't – a confident cook. “I used to have an anxiety dream before dinners where I would pull something out of the fridge made the day before and drop it,” she told me.
"I didn't fit in with the women in that cul-de-sac," she said. "I just never did. I gave up trying." She stopped pretending to care about golf games and tennis lessons. She started to write.
the first twoThe short stories that Blume sold for $20 each were "The Ooh Ooh Aah Aah Bird" and "The Flying Munchkins". Mostly she was rejected.
In 1969, she published her first book, an illustrated story about the plight of the middle son of one Freddy Dissel, who finally finds a way to make a name for himself by playing the part of the kangaroo in the school play. She dedicated it to her children—the books she read to them, along with memories of her own childhood, are what made her want to write for children.
Around the same time, Blume read about a new publisher, the Bradbury Press, looking for manuscripts for realistic children's books. Bradbury founders Dick Jackson and Robert Verrone were young parents who, as Jackson later said, were interested in "doing a little mischief" in the children's publishing world. Blume sent a draft toIggies hus, a book chapter about what happens when a black family, the Garbers, move into 11-year-old Winnie's all-white neighborhood. Bradbury Press published the book, told from Winnie's perspective, in 1970.
Today, Blume cringes when talking aboutIggies hus– she wrote that in the late 1960s she was "almost as naive" as Winnie, "wanting to make the world a better place but not knowing how". In many ways, however, the novel holds up; whether intentionally or not, it captures the righteous indignation, defensiveness, and ultimately ignorance of white "goods." ("I don't think you understand," Glenn, one of the Garber sons, says to Winnie. "Do you understand?" Winnie wonders. "Whatfezdoes he still believe? If only she hadn't been understanding from the start. She wouldn't make a good neighbor!"
The main themes of Blume's work are all present inIggies hus: parents who think they can protect their kids from everything bad in the world by not talking to them about it, and kids who know better; families trying to reconcile their personal value systems with changing cultural norms. Years later,Blume asked Jackson what he had seen in the book. "I saw the next book and the book after that," he said.
AfterIggies hus, Blume published the novel that, more than any other, would define his career (and earn Bradbury his first profit):Are you there God? it's me, daisy.
Margaret Simon is 11 years old, almost 12, newly arrived from the suburbs to New Jersey via the Upper West Side. She's preoccupied with making friends and fitting in, excited and terrified at the prospect of growing up (the last thing she wants is "to feel like an underdeveloped child" but "if you ask me, it sucks being a teenager") . Whendaisyhe left, the headmaster of the Blume nursery school wouldn't have him in the library; he believed that elementary school girls were too young to read about menstruation.
I remembereddaisyas a book about puberty, and Margaret's conversations with God mostly on that subject. Some of them are, of course. ("Please help me to grow, God. You know where. I want to be like everyone else.") But reading the book again, I was reminded that it is also a thoughtful, sometimes profound, meditation on what it means to define one's relationship with religious faith.
Margaret's Christian mother and Jewish father are proud secularists. She fears that if they find out about her private prayers, "they'll think I'm some kind of religious fanatic or something." Much to their chagrin, she goes to synagogue with her grandmother and to church with her friends. She tries to understand what her parents are so opposed to and what these institutions and rituals can offer, if anything.
Several Blume fans I spoke with remember this aspect of the novel much better than I do. Novelist Tayari Jones, whosecareer that Blume championed, told me that the way Margaret is torn between "her parents' decisions and her grandparents' culture" was the main reason she loved the book. "I'm black and I grew up in the South. Being raised without religion made me want toofa strange case,” Jones told me. "That really spoke to me even more than the whole flat-chested thing, even though there was no flatter-chested than mine."
Author Gary Shteyngart first came acrossdaisyas a student at a conservative Jewish school. He found the raised questions about faith "incomprehensible". “I think, in a way, it really shaped my attitude towards separating myself from organized religion,” he told me. (The book stayed with him long after grade school; Shteyngart recalled repeating his famous chant — "I must, I must, I must get my bust bigger!" — with a group of girlfriends at a New York rave in the 1990s. "I think we were on some drugs, of course.")
daisyit wasn't a young adult book, because it didn't exist in 1970. But even today Blume rejects the category, which is usually defined as being for 12- to 18-year-olds. "I didn't write YA," she told me. "I didn't write for teenagers." She wrote, as she sees it, for "children on the verge".
The letters startedright afterdaisy. The children wrote in their best handwriting, in blue ink or pencil, on stationery decorated with cartoon characters or paper torn from a notebook. They sent their letters to Blume's editor. "Dear Judy," most began. Girls of a certain age would say if they had already menstruated. Some kids praised her work, while others dove in head first, sharing their issues and asking for advice: divorce, drugs, sexuality, bullying, incest, abuse, cancer. They would scream. They wanted to die. They knew Judy would understand.
Blume responded to as many letters as she could, but she was also busy writing more books – she published another 10 later.daisy, alone in the 70s.Not the end of the world(1972) treated the subject of divorce from a child's perspective with what was then unusual candor. "There are some things that are very difficult for children to understand," an aunt told 12-year-old Karen. "That's what people say when they can't explain something to you," Karen thinks. "I can understand anything they can understand."
Blume's mother, Esther, was her typist until Blume wroteForever …, her 1975 novel about teen romance — and sex. The book is dedicated to Randy, then 14, who asked his mother to write a story "about two pretty boys having sex with neither of them dying."Forever …made the rounds at sleepovers and gained a cult following; it's a book from which women in their 50s can still rattle off the angriest page numbers (85 comes up a lot). It's also practical and straightforward: how to know if it's ready, how to do it safely. The protagonist's grandmother, a Manhattan lawyer, bears more than a passing resemblance to her creator, sending Planned Parenthood flyers to her grandchildren and offering to speak whenever she wants. "I don't judge, I just advise," she says.
same yearForever …came out, Blume divorced after 16 years of marriage and began what she called a belated "teen rebellion". She cried a lot; she had pizza and cheesecake (neither of which she had much interest before, despite living in New Jersey). Within a year she was remarried. She and her children and her new physical husband - Blume calls him her "interim husband" - landed in Los Alamos, New Mexico, where he had a job. Blume knew from the start that the marriage was a mistake, though she didn't want to admit it. “He was a jack of all trades,” she told me. "Must be too much." She was unhappy at Los Alamos,that looked like stepford, but she kept writing. In 1979, she was divorced again.
In the midst of this second youth, Blume published his first novel for adults.Kone, about the sexual fantasies and exploits of an unhappy housewife in New Jersey, was published in 1978. She never intended to stop writing for children, although some assume thatKonethe explicitation of would close that door. After the novel was published, Blume's mother ran into a high school acquaintance on the street. Bess Roth, whose son was Philip Roth, had some advice for her. "When asked how she knows these things," she told Esther, "you say, 'I don't know, but not from me!' "
In December 1979, George Cooper, then a professor at Columbia, asked his ex-wife if she knew of any women he would like to have dinner with while visiting New Mexico, where she lived with their 12-year-old daughter. Cooper showed his daughter the four names on the list. His 12-year-old daughter said he was going to have dinner with Judy Blume.
Dinner was on Sunday night; Monday saw Blume and CooperApocalypse. He called and sang "Love Is the Drug" over the phone (Blume thought he was singing "Love is a bug"). On Tuesday night, Blume had a date with someone else. Cooper came later and never left. They were married in 1987 to celebrate their 50th anniversary.
"The pleasure of sexuality should last your whole life - if you want it",Blume told author Jami Attenberg, in a 2022 Key West Literary Seminar talk. "If you don't, that's fine."I don't judge, I just advise.She had a product endorsement to share with the public: George had given her a sex toy, the Womanizer, and it was amazing. "Isn't it wonderful? Isn't it amazing? He bought it for me and then I sang its praises to all my friends."
Blume's firm non-condemnation,a feature of all his fiction, it is part of what so irritated his critics. It's not just sex that Blume's young characters get away with - they use profanity, exclude weirdos, disrespect their teachers. INDeenieelard, two high school romances from the 1970s, Blume portrays the cruelty children can show each other, particularly when it comes to bodily differences (physical handicaps, obesity). "I'd rather reveal it than pretend it doesn't exist," Blume said at the time. She didn't believe adults could change children's behavior; her goal was simply to make children aware of the effect that behavior could have on others.
In 1980, parentsthe pressure to havelardremovedfrom public school library shelves in Montgomery County, Maryland. "Which is really shocking," a Bethesda mom sharedWashington Post, “is that there is no moral tone in the book. There is no adult or other child saying, 'This is wrong.' (Her 7-year-old daughter told the newspaper thatlardwas "the best book I've ever read".)
Read: How book bans marginalize children
When Blume's books began to be challenged across the country, she began to speak and write against censorship. In November 1984,Peoria, Illinois, banned school board lard,Deenie, eThen again maybe I won't, and Blume appeared on an episode of CNNKrydsild, which sits between your hosts. "To the left, Tom Braden," said the speaker. "On the right, Pat Buchanan." Braden tried to sort of defend Blume's work, but Blume was more or less alone when Buchanan yelled at her, "You can't understand how parents who have 9-year-olds... would say, 'Why don't they' not teach story to children? Why don't they learn about the Civil War? Why are they focusing on this nonsense?" " Blume explained that it wasn't one or the other - that their books were optional, that kids read them "for the thrill. And they write me over 2,000 letters a month and say, 'You know how I feel'. "
“ 'I played my special place every night,' ” Buchanan replied, reading a passage on theDeenieabout masturbation. (After the bans received national publicity,Peoria council reversed its decisionbut said younger students would need parental permission to read the books.)
Despite, or perhaps because of, censorship, Blume was at the height of its commercial success in the early 1980s. By 1981, it had sold over 1 million copies.Superfudge, the latest book in a series about charming troublemaker Farley Drexel Hatcher - aka Fudge - and his long-suffering older brother Peter. From that year onwards, dedicated readers could purchase Judy Blume's Diary - "the place to put your own feelings" - although Blumeallegedly rejected offermaking bras, jeans, and Judy Blume T-shirts. Mary Burns, professor of children's literature at Framingham State College in Massachusetts, believed that Judy Blume was a fad, "a cult," asalmenhospitalfor kids. "You can't equate popularity with quality",Burns disseThe Christian Science Monitor. "The question that needs to be asked is, will Judy Blume's books be as popular in 20 years?" Burns obviously didn't think so.
But 20 years later, it's about when I first came across the books when my first grade teacher printed out an old copy ofTales from the Fourth Grade Nothingin my hands in the school library one day. I continued to read Blume for years to come - as a city boy, I was particularly fascinated by the exotic lives (yet familiar feelings) of the trio of suburban friends inAs long as we are together(1987) eHere's to you, Rachel Robinson(1993). In fourth grade I tried to takedaisyfrom my school library and was told I was too young.
I recently went back to that school to talk to the librarian who is still there. The young adult category has exploded since I was a student, and these days, she told me, tweens and young teens looking for realistic fiction are more likely to ask for John Green (The fault in our stars), Angie Thomas (hate you give), Eller Jason Reynolds (a long descent) than Judy Blume. She suggested that the issues these writers tackle — childhood cancer, police brutality, gun violence — make the teen angst in Blume's books feel a little less urgent by comparison.
However, Blume's books are still popular. According to NPD BookScan data,daisytend to sell 25,000 to 50,000 copies a year; whatsugar candythe series sells well over 100,000. (The fault in our stars, which was released in 2012 and made into a movie in 2014, sold 3.5 million copies that year, but hasn't surpassed 100,000 in a single year since 2015.) Some of those sales certainly come from parents who buy the books hoping their kids will. love them as much as they do. But nostalgia alone seems insufficient to explain Blume's large readership; parents can only influence their children's tastes so much. "John Updike once said that the relationship between a good children's author and his audience is one of a conspiratorial nature," Leonard S. Marcus, who wrotea comprehensive history of American children's literature, told me. "There is a sense of shared secrecy between author and child." Clearly, something about these stories still feels authentic to the TikTok generation.
Now that Blume's books look relatively strange, I asked my former librarian, anyone who wants to check them out? Absolutely not, she said. Her philosophy is that "the main character, especially with realistic fiction, should be around her age group." It's not censorship, she insisted, just "asking you to wait".
In 2002 or 2003, not wanting to wait, I bought my own copy ofdaisy. I loved that book, even more so because I knew it was a book adults wouldn't want me to read.
For her part, Blume believes that children are her best censors. In Key West, she told me the story of a mother who reluctantly let her 10-year-old son readForever …on the condition that she comes to her with any questions afterwards. Her daughter had only one:What is fondue?
"Crescendoa dirty matter?” Blume further asked Pat BuchananKrydsild.What were adults so afraid of?? What made it so difficult for them to recognize that children were people too? In his fiction, Blume has always sided with the children. But as her own children grew older and she began to reflect on her experiences raising them, Blume gained more empathy for their parents. In 1986 she publishedLetters to Judy: What Your Children Wish They Could Tell You, "a book for the whole family to share", with excerpts and compilations of real letters that her children (and some parents) sent her over the years, as well as autobiographical anecdotes from Blume herself. "If you are wondering why your son would write to me instead of coming to you," she wrote, "let me assure you that you are not alone. There have been times when my daughter, Randy, and my son, Larry, don't come to me either. And it hurt. Like all parents, I made a million mistakes raising my kids."
When she described the project to friends and colleagues, they would nod and say, "Oh, letters from deeply troubled children." Blume corrected them. “I wanted to try to explain,” she wrote, “that yes, some of the letters are from troubled kids, but most are from kids who love their parents and do well at school, even if they still sometimes feel lonely, scared and scared. misunderstood.” She admitted in the book's introduction that "sometimes I get more emotionally involved in their lives than I should". or lower AfterLetters to Judywent out, wrote more and more children.
Today, the letters are in the archives of the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale. Reading them is alternately heartwarming, hilarious and heartbreaking. Some letter writers ask for dating advice; others describe how they plan to kill themselves. Blume remembers a girl who said she had her razor blades ready to go.
In some cases, Blume's involvement was more than just emotional: She called a college counselor and scribbled notes on a yellow Post-it note about how to follow up. A teenage girl came to New York, where Blume and Cooper had moved from New Mexico, for a weekend visit (they took her to seea chorus line; she was not impressed). Blume seriously considered inviting one of her correspondents to live with her. "It took over my life at one point," Blume said of the letters and the responsibility she felt in trying to help their authors.
"Continues!" Blume would write a sentence that might have sounded mild from any other adult, though the kids didn't seem to take it that way when she said it: They would write back to thank her for her encouragement and send updates.
His correspondence with some children lasted for years. "I want to protect you from anything bad or painful," Blume wrote to one of them. "I know I can't, but this is how I feel. Please write soon and let me know how it went."
After spending a day in Beinecke's reading room, I began to see Blume as a modern day prisoner in the hive, trying to save one child after another before it was too late. "I keep imagining all these kids playing some game in this big field with rye and all," Holden Caulfield tells his younger sister in J.D. Salinger:
Thousands of little kids, and nobody around - no big kids, I mean - except me. And I'm standing on the edge of a crazy cliff. What do I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to fall off the cliff - I mean, if they run and don't see where they're going, I have to get out somewhere andto takefor the.
Perhaps through these letters Blume was able to fulfill Caulfield's impossible fantasy.
when your bookssell millions of copies, Hollywood inevitably calls. Blume, long skeptical of film or television collaborations, has always been clear about his agent.daisyit was off the table. "I didn't want to screw it up," she told me. Some books, she thought, just weren't meant to be movies. "That would have been wrong somehow."
Then she heard about Kelly Fremon Craig, who had directed the 2016 coming-of-age film.On the verge of seventeen. Blume admired the film, which may have taken its premise from a lost Judy Blume novel. Her main character, Nadine, is an anxious teenager who has recently lost her father and feels that her mother doesn't understand her. Fremon Craig and his mentor and producing partner, James L. Brooks, flew to Key West and went to Blume's apartment for lunch. (Blume took care of that - no need to have anxious dreams about serving food on such a day.) They convinced Blume thatdaisycould work on screen.
Blume served as the film's producer, gave Fremon Craig notes on the script, and spent time on set, where he denied at least one catastrophic error, watching the young actors perform the famous "Should I increase my bust" exercise by pressing their hands together in position of prayer. (The correct method,that Blume demonstrated– with the caveat that it doesn’t work – is to clench your hands into fists, fold your arms at your sides, and forcefully push your elbows back.)
The result of their close collaboration is a generally faithful adaptation of the text. Abby Ryder Fortson, who plays Margaret, manages to make her conversations with God feel like a natural extension of her inner life..
if anything,the filmit's more conspicuously set in the 1970s than the book itself, full of wood paneling, Cat Stevens, and old-fashioned sanitary napkins. Blume told medaisyit's really about his own experience growing up in the 50's; she just released it in 1970. The film, set in what we now know to be the beginning of the women's liberation movement, adds another autobiographical layer by fleshing out the character of Margaret's mother, Barbara (Rachel McAdams), who has now become remembers Blume from her mother in New Jersey. In the book, Barbara is an artist and we occasionally hear about her paintings; onscreen, she gives up her career to be a full-time PTA mom. She is miserable.
The tweens aren't the only ones in this movie figuring out who they are and what kind of person they want to become. At the end of the film, Barbara left the PTA. She is happily back at her easel.
I shouldn't havehe was surprised at how easy it was to trust Blume. Still, I didn't expect to reveal too much - I was there to interviewwhether. Still, during our conversations, I found myself telling her things about my life and my family that I rarely discussed, even with my closest friends. At one point, when I directly mentioned that she had been an anxious child, Blume matter-of-factly asked, "What did you worry about as a child?" She wanted details. She listened as I went through the list, asking questions and reassuring comments. "It's all very real and understandable," she said, and the 9-year-old in me melted.
Read: Judy Blume still has a lot to teach us
It was easy to see why so many children continued to send letters all these years. Even those of us who didn't correspond with Blume could feel his compassion. To read one of her books is to make her say in so many words,It's all very real and understandable.
That kind of validation can be hard to come by. Tiffany Justice, founder of Moms for Liberty,said the group is focusedabout "safeguarding children and childhood innocence", an extreme response to a common assumption: that children are fragile and in need of protection, that they are easily influenced and unable to form their own judgments. Certain topics are therefore best avoided. Even adults who support children's learning about these topics in theory sometimes find them too awkward to discuss in practice.
Blume, on the other hand, believes that adults who underestimate children's intelligence and capacity for understanding do so at their own peril - that the "innocence of childhood" is little more than a pleasant story that adults tell their children. themselves and that the loss of innocence need not be tragic. In the real world, children and teenagers puke, move and fall in love; they have fantasies and fights, and they don't always buy into what their parents taught them about God.
As I sat across from her in the shade of her balcony, I realized that my impression of Blume in the Beinecke library was wrong. As much as she wanted to help the thousands of children who wrote to her, children who sorely needed her wisdom and her care, Blume was no Holden Caulfield. Instead of a cliff for children to fall off, she saw a field that stretched continuously from childhood to adulthood, and a troubled but wonderful life of stumbling across it, regardless of age. Young people don't need a catcher; they need a compassionate trainer to cheer them up. "Of course I remember you," she told the children in her letters. "I keep thinking about you." "Be careful."
This article appears inApril 2023print edition with the title "Judy Blume goes all the way".When you buy a book using a link on this page, we receive a commission. Thank you for your supportAtlantic Ocean.
Judy Blume goes all the way? ›
“Our finger prints don't fade from the lives we touch.” “My only advice is to stay aware, listen carefully, and yell for help if you need it.” “Let children read whatever they want and then talk about it with them.What is a famous quote from Judy Blume? ›
“Our finger prints don't fade from the lives we touch.” “My only advice is to stay aware, listen carefully, and yell for help if you need it.” “Let children read whatever they want and then talk about it with them.What order should I read Judy Blume fudge books? ›
- Fudge Series Order.
- Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing Book.
- Otherwise Known As Sheila The Great Book.
- Superfudge Book.
- Fudge-A-Mania Book.
- Double Fudge Book.
A documentary about the life and legacy of Judy Blume is finally here. Judy Blume Forever, directed by Davina Pardo and Leah Wolchok, dives deep into how Judy Blume's books "revolutionized the way millions of readers understood themselves, their adolescence, and their sexuality.What is the most famous line of all time? ›
|1||"Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn."||1939|
|2||"I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse."||1972|
|3||"You don't understand! I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I could've been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am."||1954|
|4||"Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore."||1939|
Lloyd Dobler : I don't want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don't want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed.What is the most famous inspirational quote? ›
- “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall” – Confucius.
- “Magic is believing in yourself. ...
- “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them” – Walt Disney.
- “The real test is not whether you avoid this failure…
Amazon.com: Judy Blume - Ages 9 To 12: Books.What age is the Fudge series for? ›
Judy Blume Fudge Series Collection 5 Books Set - Age 7-9 - Paperback — Books2Door.What reading level is Judy Blume blubber? ›
|Interest Level||Reading Level||ATOS|
|Grades 4 - 8||Grades 3 - 5||3.8|
Is Judy on Netflix or prime? ›
Amazon.com: Judy : Renée Zellweger, Rufus Sewell, Michael Gambon, Finn Wittrock, Jessie Buckley, Tom Edge, Peter Quilter, ---, David Livingstone: Prime Video.When did Judy Blume write her last book? ›
Her most recent novel, “In the Unlikely Event” (2015), was inspired by the story of three crashes that occurred in Elizabeth in a span of three months, in 1951 and 1952, when Blume was a teen-ager.Where can I watch Judy Blume movie? ›
Right now you can watch Judy Blume Forever on Amazon Prime.What is the most famous movie line that was never meant to be said? ›
"I'm the king of the world!" — "Titanic" (1997) Most improvised lines come from the actors themselves, but this one from "Titanic" actually came from director James Cameron during filming. "It was made up on the spot," Cameron said during an interview on a BBC program.What are 5 famous quotes? ›
|That's one small step for a man, a giant leap for mankind.||Neil Armstrong||English|
|The love of money is the root of all evil.||the Bible||Greek|
|The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.||Franklin D. Roosevelt||English|
|The truth will set you free.||the Bible||Greek|
Encouraging Luke Skywalker to fully commit to the mission, Yoda said, “Do or do not. There is no try.” He was saying either you do something or you don't; there is no middle ground. Yoda knew that Luke must have an extraordinary amount of self-confidence in order to achieve the improbable.What is the most said line in movies? ›
- "Sit down and shut up." ...
- "There's a storm coming." ...
- "Don't do anything stupid." ...
- "Tell ____ I love him/her/them." ...
- "I wouldn't do that if I were you." ...
- "Yeah, you better run!"
Just because we don't talk, doesn't mean I'm not thinking about you | I dont miss you, Trick quote, Real quotes.Which famous line is actually a misquote? ›
|If you build it, they will come.||If you build it, he will come.||Ray Liotta|
|Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.||Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.||Tom Hanks|
“Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others. “Help others without any reason and give without the expectation of receiving anything in return. “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth. “We know only too well that what we are doing is nothing more than a drop in the ocean.
What was Dr Seuss favorite quote? ›
Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!What are 5 positive quotes about life? ›
- “Do the best you can. ...
- “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” ―Theodore Roosevelt.
- 'It's never too late to be what you might've been.” ―George Eliot.
- “If you can dream it, you can do it.” ―Walt Disney.
- “Trust yourself that you can do it and get it.” ―Baz Luhrmann.
“A strong woman knows she has strength enough for the journey, but a woman of strength knows it is in the journey where she will become strong.”What is a positive quote for life? ›
“Life becomes easier and more beautiful when we can see the good in other people.” “Success is not how high you have climbed, but how you make a positive difference to the world.” “Pursue what catches your heart, not what catches your eyes.” Your hardest times often lead to the greatest moments of your life.What is a beautiful life quote? ›
“Life is abundant, and life is beautiful. And it's a good place that we're all in, you know, on this earth, if we take care of it.” “Keep your head high, keep your chin up, and most importantly, keep smiling, because life's a beautiful thing and there's so much to smile about.”What is an inspirational quote to lift someone up? ›
“Bless the world with your mind, heal the world with your heart, lift the world with your soul; elevate the world with your life.” “You become strong by lifting others up, not pulling them down.” “Let yourself and others walk in a positive light. Talk about what can be done instead of what can't.What age is the prettiest book for? ›
Forever is written for an older age group than Judy Blume's other novels for children. It caused a storm of controversy when it was first published because of its explicit sexual content.What age should you read Nancy Drew? ›
Nancy Drew books are written at an 8 to 12 year old's reading level; however, that does NOT mean that the situations in the books are appropriate for every 8 to 12 year old. Reading level does not dictate whether or not a book is right for your child.Does Fudge have autism? ›
WMG / FUDGE
Fudge has Asperger's Syndrome. That explains why he has a rather peculiar personality, and he has great interests in certain objects (i.e birds, money, etc.).
What age group is bad kitty books for? ›
|Publisher||Square Fish; BOX PAP/PS edition (October 16, 2012)|
|Reading age||5 - 8 years, from customers|
|Grade level||2 - 3|
|Item Weight||1.2 pounds|
|Dimensions||5.5 x 1.29 x 8.5 inches|
|Publisher||Knopf Books for Young Readers; Illustrated edition (June 1, 2009)|
|Reading age||7 - 9 years, from customers|
This was a sad but true story of what happens in schools today, totally would not recommend this for my students as they are not at the maturity level to read this (4th grade), but definitely would recommend for 6th-8th grade students.What grade level is Silly Sally? ›
Grade Level: 1st (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.) Synopsis: In rhyming verse, Wood tells of Silly Sally, who goes to town, walking backwards, upside down.What reading level is Silly Lilly? ›
|Publisher||TOON Books; Reprint edition (February 12, 2013)|
|Reading age||4 - 8 years|
|Grade level||Preschool - 3|
|Item Weight||3.49 ounces|
Judy is a 2019 biographical drama film based on the life of American actress Judy Garland.How old was Judy Garland in Wizard of Oz? › What is Judy based on? ›
Judy is a biographical drama about singer, actress, and Hollywood icon Judy Garland. It was also Renée Zellweger's ride to a nomination for the Oscar for Best Actress, an award she is expected to win.Who is the richest writer in the world? ›
1. J.K. Rowling. British author Joanne Rowling, also known as J.K. Rowling, is the richest author in the world with a net worth of $1 billion. Rowling is the author of the hit children's fantasy series "Harry Potter." The seven-volume series sold over 600 million copies and has been translated into 84 languages.Why was blubber banned? ›
Blubber is banned because of the vulgar language and bullying. In the book all the girls in the class pick on a fat girl and call her mean names and never get punished, they also curse and are disrespectful.
What order should I read Judy Blume books? ›
- Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (1972)
- Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great (1972)
- Superfudge (1980)
- Fudge-a-Mania (1990)
- Double Fudge (2002)
Watch Judy | Movies | HBO Max.Is the movie Judy on Netflix or Hulu? ›
Zellweger's Oscar-winning biopic is currently available to rent or purchase on Amazon Prime Video, iTunes, Vudu, or Google Play.Is the movie Judy free? ›
Currently you are able to watch "Judy" streaming on fuboTV, Paramount Plus, Paramount+ Amazon Channel, MGM Plus Amazon Channel, MGM Plus or for free with ads on The Roku Channel.What is the important quote in Till We Have Faces? ›
“The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing — to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from — my country, the place where I ought to have been born. Do you think it all meant nothing, all the longing? The longing for home?What is a famous quote from the name of the rose? ›
- “Then why do you want to know?" ...
- “Until then I had thought each book spoke of the things, human or divine, that lie outside books. ...
- “What is love? ...
- “Love is wiser than wisdom.”
Nash : You can't come up with a formula to change the way you experience the world. Nash : The only thing greater than the power of the mind is the courage of the heart. Nash : A profile, a look, a voice, can capture a heart in no time at all. Nash : I need to believe that something extraordinary is possible.What are some quotes from the book Whisper to Me? ›
Preview — Whisper to Me by Nick Lake. “Think of this as the most screwed-up love letter ever.” “I have learned that some people come into our lives, and then are gone. And that part of the thing, part of life, is to accept that fact, to accept that they're gone.What is the lesson in Till We Have Faces? ›
Self-understanding. The very title of the book gestures to a need to discover the essence of one's being and strip away all of the illusions about oneself before the gods can even bother trying to communicate with mortals. Orual asks, “How can they [the gods] meet us face to face till we have faces?” (294).What is the smile wrinkle quote? ›
“Wrinkles should merely indicate where the smiles have been.”
What is the quote about showing your face? ›
If you have nothing to show, show your face, and face it! It will show!What is the rose and lily quote? ›
“My sweet rose, my delicate flower, my lily of lilies, it is perhaps in prison that I am going to test the power of love. I am going to see if I cannot make the bitter warders sweet by the intensity of the love I bear you. I have had moments when I thought it would be wise to separate.Who is known for the controversial quote A rose is a rose is a rose? ›
The sentence "Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose" was written by Gertrude Stein as part of the 1913 poem "Sacred Emily", which appeared in the 1922 book Geography and Plays. In that poem, the first "Rose" is the name of a person.What is the best quote from the book Fragrance of a Dead rose? ›
No matter how hard life has been for you, no matter how tired you are, there's always a reason to live. Even a dead rose still smells great. And amid the shattered pieces of a broken heart, there's always some hope.What is the quote the most beautiful things in the world? ›
“The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched, they are felt with the heart.”-Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince: ...What is the quote on hearts and minds? ›
One way of looking at the concept is reflected in the phrase, "If you've got them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow".What is the quote from Vanity Fair novel? ›
“Never lose a chance of saying a kind word.” “Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children.” “All is vanity, nothing is fair.” “If a man's character is to be abused, say what you will, there's nobody like a relative to do the business.”What are some good quotes from the book Silence? ›
- “Christ did not die for the good and beautiful. ...
- “When you suffer, I suffer with you. ...
- “but our Lord was not silent. ...
- “Lord, why are you silent? ...
- “No matter what the circumstances, no man can completely escape from vanity.” ...
“We sit silently and watch the world around us. This has taken a lifetime to learn. It seems only the old are able to sit next to one another and not say anything and still feel content. The young, brash and impatient, must always break the silence.