If I mention Peter and Fudge, I’m guessing there are 10-year-olds, 16-year-olds, 30- and 50-year-olds who will know these brothers. They probably also know that you can’t get freckles by drinking a nasty tasting potion. Many may remember the cruelty of classmates in Blubber. And they’ll probably know exactly who wrote Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Freckle Juice, and Blubber--Judy Blume of course!
She happens to be celebrating her 80th birthday on February 12 and I've been reminded of how much I loved her books growing up. I commiserated with older sibling Peter living with his irrepressible little brother Fudge. I went along with Margaret as she dealt with friendships and puberty in Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. We were checked for scoliosis at school and I thought of Deenie, the brace she wore and how much she wanted to be a regular teenager.
Judy Blume’s habit of writing real life and real characters continues in her adult novels. She wrote Summer Sisters for adults, but there are no doubt also teen readers for this book about friendship and choices. She later used an event from her own teenage years to explore loss, love and secrets as friends, families and strangers find their lives changed In the Unlikely Event.
Judy Blume is one of the most consistently challenged authors with books like Forever and Then Again, Maybe I Won’t. She hasn’t shied away from divorce, puberty, bullying, sex. It’s likely her honest and realistic writing is the reason for her fans across generations.
I’m glad she’s been part of my reading life. Thank you for your books and happy birthday, Judy Blume!