Blume-a-thon #5: Freckle Juice

Judy Blume will be speaking at the University of Hartford on June 21st as a fundraiser for The Mark Twain House & Museum. I’ll be interviewing her onstage and taking tons of audience questions. In preparation, I will be reading her complete works and blogging about the experience. Get your tickets here When I was a kid there were two things I wanted very badly and for no reason: freckles and curly hair. This desire stemmed solely from whatever gene sets off random bouts of envy in children.

Freckle Juice will take you half an hour to read and is a great Cliff's Notes to Judy Blume's style and concerns. Boy wants freckles. Boy falls for freckle-based prank. Boy makes best of it, with the help of an adult who knows when not to push kids too hard. (I like these adults that often show up in Judy's novels. I expect she's this kind of parent herself.)

In this little book (seven year old Julia would call this a "chapter book," because it is divided into dramatic chapters, each about four pages long), Judy Blume starts moving into the comic world she'll plow right into when we hit Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. She's a loving authorial mother to poor old jealous Andrew. She takes his concerns and his jealousy seriously, and then she makes him have a sense of humor about himself. Would that all kids could!

I never got my freckles. It took several years of getting terrible sunburns to realize this would never happen. I gave up on curling my hair, too. Once in a while, though, I put on the Freckle Juice of the adult woman: I make my eyelids darker and my eyelashes longer, my cheeks pinker, my lips brighter. But it usually ends up rubbing off from the wind going by the Vespa, an unexpected rain, the sweat of a long day, or rubbing it off by accident from sheer stress. Freckle Juice and curling irons wear off. And then we've got to live with and laugh at what's underneath: our normal selves, just as jealous and silly as when we were kids.