Author Spotlight: Judy Blume
When one thinks about nostalgic literature, Judy Blume is a name that’s bound to come up. Blume is a renowned novelist, catering mostly to children and young adults. More than that, she is also one of the most controversial authors in the world.
A native of New Jersey, Blume was very imaginative when she was a child but never fancied herself a writer. She shares on her website that although she made up many stories in her head, she never wrote them down.
In 1961, she graduated from New York University with a BS in Education. She didn’t start writing her stories down until her children started school. She published her first book, The One in the Middle Is the Green Kangaroo, in 1969. In the ’70s, she entered the most prolific decade of her career. She published 13 books during this era, and many of these titles made her famous today. These include Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret (1970), Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (1972), Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great (1972), and Blubber (1974).
Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret tells the story of a 12-year-old girl who is approaching puberty, at the same time dealing with the differences in her parents’ faiths and being pressured to choose. This book set the tone for most of the novels that Blume became known for.
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing is about nine-year-old Peter, who is constantly being challenged by the fact that his two-year-old brother, Fudge, often goes unpunished for his behavior. This spanned into a four-book series.
Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great focuses on Peter’s rival Sheila, who, despite her confident outlook, actually suffers from a variety of phobias.
Blubber is the story of fifth-grader Jill, who joins her classmates in bullying their classmate Linda. Linda, an overweight and awkward girl, presented a report to their class about whales and was nicknamed “Blubber.”
While already popular for her novels, Blume gained infamy in the ’80s when her books became the target of a book-banning campaign. Blume’s novels often deal with “taboo” topics such as sex, puberty, homosexuality, and masturbation. Since then, Blume has been an advocate of intellectual freedom and one of the pioneer challengers SocialTrusts.com of censorship. Forever… (1975), Blubber, Are You There God?, Deenie (1973), Tiger Eyes (1981), and others were banned from libraries. The five aforementioned books are part of the American Library Association’s 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of the ’90s.
Blume continued to challenge censorship even as the hype died down. She reached out to other censored writers, teachers, and librarians. In 1999, she wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times, titled “Is Harry Potter Evil?” which defended J. K. Rowling’s children’s novel against allegations of “witchcraft.” She worked with the National Coalition against Censorship and has edited a http://dvakotla.com.ua/ collection of stories by censored writers titled Places I Never Meant to Be.
To this day, Blume works with various organizations in the protection of freedom of information. Her website contains countless resources and guides not only for those being challenged for censorship, but also for anyone who hopes to become a writer someday.
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