Books by Judy Blume

Released: June 2, 2015

"Though it doesn't feel much like an adult novel, this book will be welcomed by any Blume fan who can handle three real tragedies and a few four-letter words."
A beloved author returns with a novel built around a series of real-life plane crashes in her youth. Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 12, 2008

First- and third-graders Jake and Abigail alternate as narrators to describe a series of trips: boogie boarding at the beach, riding the Gravitron at an amusement park, visiting the emergency room, losing each other in the mall and canoeing the Everglades. The focus is always on the siblings, although adults—extended family and in one case a babysitter—accompany them. A bonus episode is told by the cat, Fluzzy, whose response to their trips is completely convincing. Each story is simply told with quiet humor, sometimes more a vignette than a rounded narrative—but, as always, Blume gets right to the hearts of her characters, revealing their fears, their resentments and their affection for each other. Stevenson's grey-washed cartoon illustrations enliven the pages. Each chapter can stand on its own, making this particularly accessible for the struggling reader. This is the third of a projected quartet of chapter books, sure to be welcomed as enthusiastically as its predecessors were. (Fiction. 6-9)Read full book review >
Released: May 13, 2008

Jake and Abigail, Blume's ever-sparring siblings, return with six new stories filled with laughter, provocation and, most of all, affectionate loyalty. First-grader Jake's pressing issues include the loss of his first tooth, a fifth-grade bully and the near-demise of his bedtime stuffed elephant, always marked by an eagerness to appear all-knowing and grown-up. Third-grader Abigail, continually vexed by her brother, has concerns of her own: chasing boys and choosing an alternate name for herself. Blume is a master at mixing amusing and even outrageous twists into her depictions of everyday sibling and school matters, such as a real dog running wild through school on Bring Your (pretend) Pet Day. Each vignette will have readers and listeners predicting, groaning or chuckling as events unfold. Stevenson's lively black-and-white cartoon art enhance the short chapters, which epitomize the best in sibling relationships. For cat lovers who are wondering what Fluzzy is thinking, a seventh chapter tells all. (Fiction. 6-8)Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 28, 2007

Once again, Blume shows off her pitch-perfect understanding of childhood anxieties and family dynamics. In alternating first-person chapters, siblings Jacob (the Pain) and Abigail (the Great One) describe a series of Saturday adventures, including visits to Mr. Soupy's hair cuttery, an unsuccessful sleepover and lively dog-sitting. First-grader Jake learns to like soccer league when he gets to play something besides goalie, and third-grader Abigail finally masters riding a bike. Each short chapter begins with a picture of the speaker, and all are liberally illustrated with Stevenson's sketches. Aimed at a younger audience than many of her books, the humor and convincing dialogue will keep new readers going. Jacob and Abigail first appeared in "The Pain and the Great One" in Marlo Thomas's collection Free to be . . . You and Me (1974); that story was illustrated and republished on its own with the same title in 1984. This welcome new collection should attract a new generation of readers. (Fiction. 6-9)Read full book review >
DOUBLE FUDGE by Judy Blume
Released: Sept. 1, 2002

Fudge Hatcher and his friends are back in the fifth installment of Blume's popular series. Five-year-old Fudge's newest obsession is money; he wants it so badly he even resorts to printing some of his own. On his first day of school, he finds a new friend, Richie Potter, who is endlessly interesting to Fudge: he's wealthy and not embarrassed to talk about money the way Fudge's family is. In order to take away some of the mystique about money, Fudge's parents plan a family trip to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. This does little to stem his interest, but it does allow Fudge's father to run into a long-lost relative, Howie. This convenient coincidence pushes the narrative away from the story of Fudge and money to a rather unbelievable storyline. Howie's family is made up of his pregnant wife Eudora, 12-year-old twins Flora and Fauna (also known as "the natural beauties"), and four-year-old Farley Drexel Hatcher, which is also Fudge's real name. Howie insists on calling Fudge's father Tubby, a not-so-subtle reference to Mr. Hatcher's rotund childhood shape. The meandering plot turns into National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation when the homeschooling Hawaiian Hatchers invite themselves to stay in the already-crowded apartment shared by Peter, Fudge, baby Tootsie, and their parents. The apartment is strained to the breaking point as the pushy visitors overstay their welcome, invite themselves to Peter's school, and try everyone's patience. Too much is going on here, both in the Hatcher household and in Blume's story. Many of the plot strands are left hanging or are too neatly tied up. There's the bird who mysteriously loses his power to speak, and the artist whose paintings are made up of baby's footprints in paint. Add to that the Hawaiian cousins who sing showtunes. A few laughs can not redeem this busy, surprisingly unfunny book. (Fiction. 8-12)Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 1, 1999

YA writers Norma Fox Mazer, Julius Lester, Rachel Vail, Katherine Paterson, Jacqueline Woodson, Harry Mazer, Walter Dean Myers, Susan Beth Pfeffer, David Klass, Paul Zindel, Chris Lynch, and Norma Klein contribute a short story and brief essay on censorship to this collection. They have all written books that have been banned in libraries by adults who "were afraid of exposing their children to ideas different from their own." In her foreword, Blume addresses the topic of parental hysteria and censorship that has increased since the 1980s when "censors crawled out of the woodwork, organized and determined." The stories are varied and topical: an unsuspecting teenager is taken to a gay bath house by a best friend unsure of his own sexuality; a house fire is attributed to a teen arson; a girl mugged at knife point learns to appreciate parental rules; a black boy from a militant family falls in love with a white girl; a girl has to decide whether or not to steal money from her mother to give to her penniless father; and more. Every story shows teens experiencing life unvarnished, growing up through tragedy and difficulty; the collection is candid, even blunt, in its desire to "tell it like it is." Readers will come away with an appreciation for every writer's struggle, and the realization that at one time or another, all of their favorite authors have come into the censor's sights. (Fiction. 12+) Read full book review >
Released: May 8, 1998

The years pass by at a fast and steamy clip in Blume's latest adult novel (Wifey, not reviewed; Smart Women, 1984) as two friends find loyalties and affections tested as they grow into young women. In sixth grade, when Victoria Weaver is asked by new girl Caitlin Somers to spend the summer with her on Martha's Vineyard, her life changes forever. Victoria, or more commonly Vix, lives in a small house; her brother has muscular dystrophy; her mother is unhappy, and money is scarce. Caitlin, on the other hand, lives part of the year with her wealthy mother Phoebe, who's just moved to Albuquerque, and summers with her father Lamb, equally affluent, on the Vineyard. The story of how this casual invitation turns the two girls into what they call "Summer sisters" is prefaced with a prologue in which Vix is asked by Caitlin to be her matron of honor. The years in between are related in brief segments by numerous characters, but mostly by Vix. Caitlin, determined never to be ordinary, is always testing the limits, and in adolescence falls hard for Von, an older construction worker, while Vix falls for his friend Bru. Blume knows the way kids and teens speak, but her two female leads are less credible as they reach adulthood. After high school, Caitlin travels the world and can't understand why Vix, by now at Harvard on a scholarship and determined to have a better life than her mother has had, won't drop out and join her. Though the wedding briefly revives Vix's old feelings for Bru, whom Caitlin is marrying, Vix is soon in love with Gus, another old summer friend, and a more compatible match. But Caitlin, whose own demons have been hinted at, will not be so lucky. The dark and light sides of friendship breathlessly explored in a novel best saved for summer beachside reading. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 1993

Blume returns to the trio of seventh graders introduced in Just as Long as We're Together (1987), where Stephanie's narration was colored by her parents' new separation. Here, superachiever Rachel takes center stage with her account of the stresses created when her brother Charles is kicked out of boarding school before he's finished ninth grade. Charles's description of his family is one-sided but cruelly on target: Dad (who gave up law for teaching) is a "wimp," Mom (just appointed a judge) an "ice-queen," acne-scarred older sister Jessica a "potato head"—while Rachel, who at year's end is just beginning to realize that she won't be able to play the flute, take leading roles in drama and a peer-counseling program, do advanced study at a local college, and be class president (all things suggested to her) is Mom's "clone," and more than Charles can bear. His acting out is genuinely, painfully obnoxious; it's a credit to Blume's skill that his vulnerability also emerges, and that the rebalanced family dynamics following his disruptive return is sufficiently muted to be credible. With a good tutor and a stronger bond with Dad, Charles mellows enough for Rachel to see him as more than a destroyer of family peace- -and for him to admit she may be developing a sense of humor. A good, solid, working-the-family-problem story, with sure appeal for fans. (Fiction. 11-14) Read full book review >
FUDGE-A-MANIA by Judy Blume
Released: Jan. 1, 1990

A well-loved author brings together, on a Maine vacation, characters from two of her books. Peter's parents have assured him that though Sheila ("The Great") Tubman and her family will be nearby, they'll have their own house; but instead, they find a shared arrangement in which the two families become thoroughly intertwined—which suits everyone but the curmudgeonly Peter. Irrepressible little brother Fudge, now five, is planning to marry Sheila, who agrees to babysit with Peter's toddler sister; there's a romance between the grandparents in the two families; and the wholesome good fun, including a neighborhood baseball game featuring an aging celebrity player, seems more important than Sheila and Peter's halfhearted vendetta. The story's a bit tame (no controversies here), but often amusingly true to life and with enough comic episodes to satisfy fans. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1987

The popular author returns to the junior-high age with an episodic story about a three-way friendship during a seventh-grade year. Tall, super-bright Rachel and narrator Stephanie have been best friends forever. When diminutive Alison—a Vietnamese adoptee whose mother is a well-known TV star—moves to their neighborhood, she easily joins their circle; Alison's unassuming charm makes her everyone's favorite, and her family is pleasantly ordinary. Meanwhile, Stephanie is beset by various pressures: Rachel neglects to tell her that she's been transferred to an accelerated math class; more important, Dad is "away on business" for months. When it turns out at Thanksgiving that her parents are trying a separation, it is a total surprise to Stephanie, partly because of her self-absorption, partly because her parents have dropped astonishingly few hints. Stephanie's angry response includes a food binge; the resulting fat complicates possible friendships with boys, who are just starting to be more interesting. Come spring, Stephanie begins to accept her parents' wish to live apart; a quarrel with Rachel, the inevitable consequence of the year's tensions and jealousies, is sorted out; and she loses weight. Blume still excels at assembling the minutiae and concerns of today's young with a humorous style and enough insight to win her readers. Devotees will set themselves a valuable precedent by reading a book of this length. Light; sure to please. Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 1986

From the thousands of letters she's received, the author has selected those best suited to illustrating what bothers kids the most. Being the most popular writer of children's books in America, she has kept in close touch with her pre-teen audience—and even some graybeards. Her correspondents tell of loneliness, jealousy, sibling rivalry, crushes; apprehensions about sex and their own attractiveness, as well as the puzzle of bodilyfunctions, fill out the menu. The youngsters are concerned about their families, confused by parental inconsiderateness, weakness, even brutality. Some write of the stepchild life or of serious illnesses and disabilities. Through it all, Blume is a patient listener, offering sensitive advice and honest opinions. The author succeeds in being clear and straightforward, basing her answers on her own experiences and in the course of it all, revealing much personal information as she succors the wounded. She offers encouragement and consolation, but doesn't shy from admitting her own despair or bewilderment when the problem eludes a clear solution. This is a rewarding gift for a young friend or relative since its practical wisdom and pertinence will help them find answers and a modicum of relief. At least, it will show them that they are not alone in the travails of growing up. Parents, too, could benefit greatly from the letters presented here, since they may convince doubters of the need to communicate with their children. Even the most considerate adult has problems dealing with their kids, and Blume is supportive and understanding in helping them to be better parents. She will reward her fans both young and old with this approach and win legions of new adherents to boot. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 1984

How two jealous siblings feel about one another—starting with a third-grader's gripes about her first-grade brother, the Pain. Because Blume is a close student of family behavior, there's a lot here that rings true: "At dinner he picks at his food. He's not supposed to get dessert if he doesn't eat his meat. But he always gets it anyway." (Also: he's a slow-poke, but if she leaves without him, "he cries" and "Mom gets mad at me.") When she protests that she should stay up later because she's older, her parents agree—but "without the Pain, there's nothing to do!' Worst of all, "the cat sleeps on the Pain's bed," when it's she who feeds her. The last, bottom line: "I think they love him better than me." Then we hear his side: "She thinks she's great just because she can play the piano. . . . But I like my songs better even if nobody ever heard them before." "My sister thinks she's so great just because she can work the can opener" (which is why she gets to feed the cat). But the bottom line is the same: "I think they love her better than me." The situation as depicted is particular to these years; the text is set, pretty much a phrase to a line, for easy reading. And if anyone can remove the picture-book onus, it's Blume—so this back-to-back confrontation, illustrated in the same waggish spirit, should garner appreciative recognition. Read full book review >
SMART WOMEN by Judy Blume
Released: Feb. 22, 1983

In her popular books for young people, Blume has often worked empathically within a teen frame of reference; and here, though the prime focus is on the highs and histrionics of a trio of 40-ish, divorced professional women in Boulder, Colorado, it's their kids whose common-denominator fears and angers ring true. As for the mothers, they're a rather vacuous and tiresome lot: mother-of-two Margo (solar condo designer) counts up the 17 men she's slept with (including 21-year-old Eric) and has been divorced five years from Freddy, who wanted a Stepford Wife; real-estater Francine—a.k.a. "B.B."—lost her ten-year-old son in a car crash, divorced her journalist-husband, now clings to twelve-year-old daughter Sara; and oil heiress Clare is from Texas, with a philandering ex and a kid named Puffin. The women's men will criss-cross, of course. Thus, Margo is soaking in her hot-tub in her "funky upside down house" when Andrew, B.B.'s attractive ex, slides in on a neighborly visit; they'll soon be lovers. Meanwhile, fringe anorexic B.B., erstwhile friend of Margo, remains off-center with unresolved grief, her hate/need of Andrew, and traumatic family-past relationships: she's hovering near a breakdown. And, as Margo tries to juggle love, lust, and guilts, with B.B. dangerously raging and sulking, their children are adrift in the wake. Sara is slowly absorbed into the Margo/Andrew household—to the disgust of Margo's daughter Michelle, 17. Puffin becomes pregnant by Margo's son Stuart, and Michelle sees her through an abortion. Michelle has her first affair with Eric (Margo's Eric). The kids, often feeling "invisible," weather screaming fights, uprooting of their homes, and wonder why parents can't simply love them. ("You couldn't trust parents. They were only interested in you when they didn't have anyone else. As soon as they had lovers, forget it.") But finally, after B.B. has a near-fatal crackup, there's a flurry of upbeat fadeouts: B.B. is in therapy; Margo's kids, with Sara and Andrew, are beginning to coalesce into a family; there's a wedding in the works; and Margo, in her hot tub, counts her blessings. The kid-talk is convincing, even if the kids themselves are only moderately so. The adults, in or out of Jacuzzi, are flaky, arid, and just plain tiresome. But, like Blume's previous "adult" novel Wifey, this has enough glossy anguish to pull in her readership—with trendy-soap appeal to adolescents of all ages. Read full book review >
TIGER EYES by Judy Blume
Released: Sept. 1, 1982

Blume's latest novel begins like many of her personalized, single-problem scenarios, with 15-year-old Davey's father shot to death by robbers at his 7-Eleven store in Atlantic City. Davey can't function for weeks, and it is largely for her that her emotionally and financially stranded mother accepts shelter in Los Alamos with kind Aunt Bitsy and her physicist-husband Walter. Once there, Davey's outsider reactions to Bitsy, Walter, and Los Alamos add dimension to her grief and her recovery. True, we experience no culture shock too strong for Blume's smooth readability; there is nothing subtle about the irony of Bomb City's bland security and weapons designer Waiter's overprotective posture; and Waiter's elitist ugliness is overdone in one violent confrontation with Davey. Also, Davey's chaste but warm relationship with a nice young man she meets in the canyon, plus the coincidence of his father's dying at the hospital where Davey volunteers as a candy-striper, are on the cute romantic level. Nevertheless Davey's lonely struggle to come to terms with the killing, her everyday conflicts with her well-meaning but aggravating aunt and uncle, her impatience with her mother, who finally breaks down and then withdraws from the family, her scorn for the "nerd" physicist Mom dates on her way to recovery, her concern for a high-status but alcoholic school friend, and her assessment of the social structure at the Los Alamos high school—all this takes on a poignancy and a visible edge we wouldn't see had Davey (or Blume) remained in New Jersey. Read full book review >
SUPERFUDGE by Judy Blume
Released: Sept. 15, 1980

In Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (1972), Peter Hatcher's amusing tales were really all about his two-and-a-half-year-old brother Fudge. Now Peter is in sixth grade and Fudge, at four, is still the star of the family comedy—this despite the arrival of Tootsie, whom Peter anticipates with outrage and dismay and Fudge receives with characteristic manifestations of sibling displacement. When Fudge can't sell Tootsie or give her away, he covers her with trading stamps in hopes of exchanging her. And when he's not tampering with Tootsie, Fudge is terrorizing his kindergarten teacher or embarrassing the principal (and, indirectly, his older brother) at a school assembly. Peter, on the sidelines, has a few less dramatic experiences of his own—eating a neighbor's worm cookies is about the wildest—but his wry reporting of Fudge's doings gives the story his stamp, and through it all he manages to give the impression that he has a life of his own. Like Tales. . . ., this is light as Uncle Feather (that's Fudge's pet myna bird), reads like a breeze, and bubbles with fourth-grade-level humor. Read full book review >
Released: April 4, 1977

Ten years old in 1947, Sally has to spend the winter in a Florida apartment with her mother, grandmother (Ma Fanny) and older brother Douglas, whose doctor has ordered the stay while he recuperates from nephritis. Sally misses and worries about her father, whom she calls "Dooey bird," but there are visits and mushy letters (she longs to give him "the treatment," a fancy series of kisses), and Florida turns out better than expected. Sally loves the beach, makes some friends at school (including a boy whose teasing indicates that he likes her), and engages in an active fantasy life featuring Margaret O'Brien, Esther Williams, and old Mr. Zavodsky, another tenant, whom she's convinced is Hitler in disguise. As usual Blume is attuned to the secret and/or silly concerns of ordinary kids (though these won't hit the nerve that. . . Margaret's did), but as usual she never takes her readers a step beyond that level. The result, if seductive, is minimally satisfying. Read full book review >
FOREVER... by Judy Blume
Released: Oct. 20, 1975

Increasingly Judy Blume's books center on single topics and the topic here, as pronounced in the first sentence, is getting laid. Cath and Michael fall in love when both are high school seniors, and Blume leads up to It date by date and almost inch by inch (hand over sweater, hand under skirt...) and then, after the breakthrough, describes each session until the kinks in timing and such are straightened out. (There's also a word-for-word transcript of her Planned Parenthood interview and a letter from Grandma, who's heard she is "going steady," advising birth control.) For Cath though forever lasts only until her parents send her off to a summer camp job and she finds herself unwillingly attracted to the tennis counselor she's assisting; Michael takes it without much grace but Cath will never regret one single thing because it was all very special. "I think it's just that I'm not ready for forever." As usual with this immensely popular author, Forever... has a lot of easy, empathic verity and very little heft. Cath like Blume's other heroines is deliberately ordinary, which means here (despite friends, nice family, etc.) that outside of the love affair she's pretty much a blank. In fact this could be a real magnet for all those girls who took to Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret just a few years ago and haven't changed all that much since. Another way of looking at Forever... is as an updated Seventeenth Summer. Read full book review >
BLUBBER by Judy Blume
Released: Oct. 1, 1974

Egged on by ringleader Wendy, Jill is right in there with the rest of her fifth grade class persecuting chubby Linda, who is nicknamed Blubber after she gives an oral report on the whale. At last, however, when Wendy, appointing herself judge, puts Blubber on trial for tattling on Jill and her friend (we're never sure it wasn't Wendy who told), Jill defies the bully by insisting that Linda have a defense lawyer — only to find the next day that Linda and Wendy are now best friends and Jill herself the new victim. Actually Jill is teased and ostracized only long enough to learn how it feels to be on the receiving end of grade school cruelty, for her own protest proves the beginning of the end of Wendy's tyranny. Judy Blume presents the scenes of viciousness (the girls forcing a chocolate ant down Linda's throat or making her show the boys her underpants) without commentary and young readers will be appalled long before Jill exhibits any qualms — while enjoying, as usual, those indelicacies like farts and nose picking which only strengthen their general conviction that this author writes directly to them. Read full book review >
DEENIE by Judy Blume
Released: Sept. 17, 1973

Like John Neufeld (see Freddy's Book, KR, p. 817, J-269), Judy Blume seems to be growing impatient with fictional considerations and more preoccupied with her bibliotherapeutic themes — which is not to deny that this could hit a responsive nerve with her body-centered early adolescent readers. At the beginning Deenie is an ordinary seventh grader preoccupied with making the cheer-leading squad, disgusted by hunchbacks and cripples and a classmate with eczema, and plagued by a stereotypically insensitive mother determined to make a professional model of her pretty daughter. Then the gym teacher suspects and doctors confirm that Deenie has scoliosis, "a structural curvature of the spine which has a strong tendency to progress rapidly during the adolescent growth spurt." The rest of her story — about half of which seems to take place in doctors' offices, where we are exposed to all the processes involved in making a brace mold, deals with her adjustment to the brace that she will wear for four years in order to grow up straight. Instead of giving Deenie any personality or independent existence beyond her malady, the author throws in the subtopic of masturbation — Deenie likes to touch her "special place" to get "that good feeling," and is relieved when the gym teacher tells the class it's okay — which only makes the story's hygienic slant more pronounced. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 18, 1972

It comes as something of a surprise to learn that Sheila Tubman, Peter Hatchet's feisty companion from Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (p. 134, J-38) is secretly afraid of dogs, spiders, bees, water, the dark and strange noises. While Sheila bolsters her confidence by renaming herself Sheila the Great, her new friend Mouse Ellis, junior yo-yo champion of Tarrytown, remains singularly unimpressed, but somehow Sheila manages to survive the episodic trials of the summer — the beginner's swimming test, the revelations of her friends' Slam Books, even the presence of the dog Jennifer who "goes with" the Tubmans' rented summer home. Judy Blume is a careful student of such childhood customs as slumber parties, playing "cooties" and eating Oreo cookies from the inside out, and Sheila's ongoing crisis of image ("Other kids get Home Free. Why not me?") is as easy To identify with as it is to laugh at. Read full book review >
Released: April 24, 1972

. . . though for a while it seems that way to 12-year-old Karen Newman whose parents are in the process of getting a divorce. After Daddy moves out of the house Karen plots to bring her parents face to face, sure that they'll make up when they see each other, but when older brother Jeff runs away from home their enusing confrontation only proves the unreality of her hopes. By then Karen has met Val, another child of divorce, who "reads the entire New York Times every Sunday," insists on facing unpleasant facts, and recommends Gardner's Boys' and Girls' Book About Divorce, which Karen too finds helpful. Thus toward the end when Mother announces that she's selling their house, Karen regrets moving but accepts the way it has to be. All of this is told in the first person without solemnity or forced comfort, and Ms. Blume's sharp sketches of 12-year-old quirks and concerns will hold even those who don't share Karen's problem. Read full book review >
Released: March 23, 1972

Nine-year-old Peter Warren Hatcher has resigned himself to losing the battle of sibling rivalry; his two-and-a-half-year-old brother Fudge manages to get all the attention — upstaging Peter in front of his father's business associates, ruining the poster he has made for a school project, getting lost at the movies and (the unkindest cut of all) swallowing his pet turtle. Fudge's antics are standard toddler attention-getters (and his selection as star of a TV commercial considerably overrates his potential as an entertainer), but Peter's jaundiced observations exploit their risibility to the fullest. Yet the absence of any palpable jealousy or anger in Peter's reportage causes it to degenerate into a series of momentarily amusing anecdotes, and, if not exactly a nothing, Peter is considerably less than might have been expected from the author of Then Again, Maybe I Won't (1971). Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 18, 1971

When Mr. Miglione's invention of electrical cartridges wins him an executive job in Queens, the family moves from Jersey City (where they "stood an line for the bathroom") to an impressive house on Long Island. Thirteen-year-old Tony is increasingly distressed and resentful as his mother becomes a social-climbing phoney, his father tries to solve all problems by buying expensive gifts, and grandmother is displaced from the kitchen by the dictatorial new maid. Tony's mother encourages his friendship with Joel Hoober next door, but Tony is more interested in beautiful Lisa Hoober, the subject of his first wet dream, whom he watches undressing from his bedroom window. About the same time Tony takes to carrying his old raincoat everywhere, to use as a screen in case he has an erection in public — an event that does finally occur at the blackboard in math class, when a book provides the necessary cover. More serious is Tony's conflict over Joel Hoober's secret shoplifting, which gives Tony nervous stomach cramps that bring him eventually to a psychiatrist. Mrs. Blume's treatment of the boy's big and little problems is refreshingly light and undemanding, and the fact that they are not magically resolved adds to their likelihood and recognition. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 1970

The comical longings of little girls who want to be big girls — exercising to the chant of "We must — we must — increase our bust!" — and the wistful longing of Margaret, who talks comfortably to God, for a religion, come together as her anxiety to be normal, which is natural enough in sixth grade. And if that's what we want to tell kids, this is a fresh, unclinical case in point: Mrs. Blume (Iggie's House, 1969) has an easy way with words and some choice ones when the occasion arises. But there's danger in the preoccupation with the physical signs of puberty — with growing into a Playboy centerfold, the goal here, though the one girl in the class who's on her way rues it; and with menstruating sooner rather than later — calming Margaret, her mother says she was a late one, but the happy ending is the first drop of blood: the effect is to confirm common anxieties instead of allaying them. (And countertrends notwithstanding, much is made of that first bra, that first dab of lipstick.) More promising is Margaret's pursuit of religion: to decide for herself (earlier than her 'liberal' parents intended), she goes to temple with a grandmother, to church with a friend; but neither makes any sense to her — "Twelve is very late to learn." Fortunately, after a disillusioning sectarian dispute, she resumes talking to God. . . to thank him for that telltale sign of womanhood. Which raises the last question: of a satirical stance in lieu of a perspective. Read full book review >
IGGIE'S HOUSE by Judy Blume
Released: April 13, 1970

Iggie's cosmopolitan family is off to Tokyo and Winnie knew they'd sell to someone interesting—but her welcome to the Negro Garbers ('Detroit! Did you riot?') doesn't warm them and her championship of their cause isn't backed up by her parents: she's the bumbling, besieged liberal at age eleven. But not a girl to give up easily: to the kids at the playground she introduces the Garbers as Africans, to younger Tina Garber she insists that, sure there are black kids around—"just not today." Winnie's always hated "Little Miss Germ-Head" Clarice Landon and her busybody mother so it's no surprise that the latter circulates a petition advising the Garbers to move; what shocks Winnie is that her parents don't tell Mrs. Landon off. Her embarrassment with the Garbers—Herbie runs to hostile sarcasm, Glenn to constraint—is mitigated when the talk gets around to parents: both sets seem bent on "'protect(ing) the children from everything bad in the world.' Just close your eyes and it will go away." The kids' candor proves to be the nearest thing to a triumph on Grove Street: integration, such as it is, is a by-product of Mr. Garber's determination not to forsake a good job, the extremist Landons' departure, and the apathy of Winnie's parents—"Moving is just too much trouble." Occasionally forced (Mrs. Landon's crude tactics, Clarice's very name), loose though not slack—in fact evanescent except for the rueful truth. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1969

Outshined by big brother Mike and outshouted by little sister Ellen, Freddy is "a great big middle nothing" until he solos as the Green Kangaroo in the school play and finds himself by being in the spotlight. In the context, a quick change — and the green kangaroo might as well be a purple cow for all it has to do with anything else. Read full book review >