Oh, c'mon, what preadolescent kid didn't read Judy Blume? I figure maybe the illiterate ones.

Well, not quite, but her books were immensely popular because they dealt with the feelings of alienation and budding superiority (I figure around 12 years old is when kids start thinking they know it all). Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing is a perfect example of this. Blume is one of those rare adults who can identify with kids at their brattiest age. Lord knows we need more like her.

I read a lot of Judy Blume books, both her work aimed at boys, and her girly stuff as well. Are you there, God? It's me, Margaret -- guilty as charged. 7Ghent calls this the literary equivalent of cross-dressing.

Judy Blume is a popular author of "young adult" novels. What sets her apart from the rest is that her novels often tackled topics like sex and masturbation. Not only did she write about teens having sex and wanking, she managed to do so without demonizing the characters who did so. The main character in Then Again, Maybe I Won't was even a peeping tom for quite a while, he even asked for binoculars for Christmas so he could more easily watch the girl across the street.

Her less controversial "Fudge" books were fairly popular, but I never did like them myself, mainly because the main character was so much younger than I was when I read them. I had the same problem with all of Beverly Cleary's "Ramona" books, I always wished they would have been about her older sister Beatrice instead.

Judy has also written a few books for adults, such as Summer Sisters, Wifey, and Smart Women. I haven't read any of those, since they seem to be aimed at more of a female audience. But one of them is rumored to have some lesbian scenes, so you may want to check them out, if that is your cup of tea.

Complete list of Judy Blume's Works
Judy Sussman was born February 12, 1938 in Elizabeth, New Jersey, to a dentist and homemaker. By her own account she was an ordinary kid who dreamed of being a cowgirl or ballerina when she grew up - not a writer, though she loved to read, and told herself stories as she played.

Judy wrote for her high school newspaper, but it wasn't until college (NYU, where she received an education degree in 1966) that she decided to become a children's author. She took a class in writing for young people, and then took it again, turning in one chapter of Iggie's House every week. By this time she had married her first husband, John Blume, and given birth to two children, Randy and Lawrence.

Much of Judy's early writing was informed by her experience as a mother and wife. Forever... was written after daughter Randy complained that most teen romance novels punish their protagonists for having sex (the main characters either died or were subjected to gruesome back-alley abortions); moreover, the girls never have sexual feelings, and the boys never have non-sexual ones. It's Not the End of the World was written as Blume found herself answering her kids' and neighbors' kids questions about divorce, and her own marriage was falling apart. Forever... depicts a pair of very 1970s high schoolers falling in love, getting it on (Blume's prologue to newer editions of the book warns readers to use prophylactics in addition to hormonal birth control), and finally breaking up like a normal 17-year-old couple. (But not before the reader is treated to sentences like, "Ralph got big and hard" - Ralph being the male protagonist's penis.) Summer Sisters, a book (like Wifey and Smart Women) for Blume's grownup fans, is based on her relationship with her best friend, though she hasn't answered questions about whether the lesbian eroticism is real.

Though Blume's books are an enormous popular success (even extending to a brief, unsuccessful TV series based on the less-controversial Fudge books), she is still a popular target of censors and critics. The latter allege that Blume's realism is of no real interest to young people (right); the former insist that children not be subjected to explicit books on puberty (Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret? and Then Again, Maybe I Won't), prepubescent cruelty (Blubber), and sexuality (Forever...).

Blume is a founder and trustee of the charitable Kids Fund, the Authors Guild, and the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. She lives on the East Coast with her husband, George Cooper, a nonfiction writer and the webmaster of judyblume.com. At the request of her grandson, she is currently working on another book about Fudge.


judyblume.com (duh)
cybergrrl.com: "You know it, we know it, Judy Blume Rocks" (no direct link to the article)
Oppenheimer, Mark. "Why Judy Blume Endures." {new York Times Book Review], Nov. 16, 1998.

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