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.
In which Fudge becomes a middle child. In retrospect-- the kid he was always meant to be. Weird. Grabby for attention. Ridiculous. (I dedicate this paragraph to my wonderful middle-child brother Alex, who himself was pretty silly as a kid, but has turned out to be a smart and respectable and very quiet adult.) (Why am I dedicating paragraphs? Too much Judy Blume?)
Blume's comedic touch is perfect in this book:
Before the end of the week, Fudge asked the big question. "How did the baby get inside you, Mommy?" So Mom borrowed my copy of How Babies Are Made, and she read it to Fudge.
As soon as he had the facts straight, he was telling anybody and everybody exactly how Mom and Dad had made the baby. He told Henry, our elevator operator. Henry smiled and said, "That's a mouthful for a small fry like you."
I'm not a parent, but I imagine that reading these books to your own kids must be hilarious. There are these innuendos, of course, and a take-down of modern art, and a small and lovely scene where the two boys acknowledge that they only pretend to believe in Santa for their parents' sake. (Judy Blume has been censored many times for her taboo topics, but parents were in an uproar that she also "ruined Christmas" with this revelation.)
I also love the hidden adult plot in the novel: Mr. Hatcher quits his job at the advertising agency in order to move to the suburbs, find himself, become a man who loves the outdoors and old houses, and most importantly, write his big novel. In the margins of the tales of his kids, we see Mr. Hatcher flail and ultimately fail.
This is a weird thing to say, but what I've come to love about Judy Blume is the way she writes adults within children's books. These are not children's stories-- these are family stories told from the kids' point of view. When I was Peter's age, I was trying hard to figure out who my parents were. Everything they did seemed to be a secret I needed to figure out. Maybe I wouldn't have seen Mr. Hatcher in this book when I was a kid, but I see him now. And I want to give him a hug.