Blume visiting her old school in New Jersey (JudyBlume.com)
OVER THE YEARS author Judy Blume has gone quite some way in teaching a couple of generations of adolescents a few things about the world.
Now she’s 75, today is her birthday, and she’s still writing.
Since the 1970s her books for teenagers have tackled sex, menstruation, puberty, masturbation, relationships, death, bullying, divorce and little brothers.
Five of Blume’s books made it onto the American Library Association’s 100 most frequently challenged books between 1990 and 1999 (Forever, Deenie, Blubber, Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret, and Tiger Eyes), while Blume herself is one of the most challenged authors of the 21st century so far.
Here are just seven things that make her a legend, on her 75th birthday…
1. Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret
Image: Paper Lantern Lit
Margaret was the bearer of news about the first crush, first love, first break up , first bra and first period.
It’s been challenged over and over again because of its religious and adolescent themes, but it still published and in 2011 was named one of Time’s best fiction books since 1923.
Blume also published a book about a boy called Tony going through similar issues, titled Then Again Maybe I Won’t.
It’s interesting to note that since the book was published in 1970 Margaret no longer uses sanitary belts, and has progressed to more modern feminine hygiene products in recently published editions.
2. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
Written for younger readers, Blume’s 1972 book was the first in the series of novels about the ‘Fudge’ character and his brother Peter.
She followed it up with Superfudge, Fudge-a-Mania and Double Fudge, while Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great was a spin off.
Last year Blume tweeted that a picture of a child reading Double Fudge ‘made her day’.
3. Battling breast cancer
In 2012 Judy Blume was diagnosed with breast cancer, and wrote about the experience on her blog.
She said that a routine ultrasound led to a biopsy, cancer diagnosis and a mastectomy.
Blume pictured with actress Elise Eberle in San Francisco between her diagnosis and her surgery (Judy Blume/Twitter)
Medical diagnoses can leave you feeling alone and scared. When it comes to breast cancer you’re not alone, and scary though it is, there’s a network of amazing women to help you through it.
4. Tiger Eyes, the book and the film
Tiger Eyes was Blume’s 1981 book about Davey Wexler, the murder of her father, and her encounter with a boy named Wolf in the New Mexico desert.
In 2010 Tiger Eyes was made into a film, directed by the author’s son Lawrence…
5. Amanda Palmer’s song ‘Judy Blume’
That’s Amanda Palmer from The Dresden Dolls…
Deenie was the 1973 book that made teenage girls the world over think they had scoliosis.
It chronicles 13-year-old Deenie’s diagnosis with the spinal condition, and her mother’s insistence that she become a model.
The book was banned by many schools in the US because of references to sexuality and masturbation.
Blume has spoken out in the past on censorship and the banning of books, saying:
It hasn’t gone away. It’s growing in different directions … It’s contagious, the desire to control everything in your children’s lives, including what they read.
When I started to write, it was the ’70s, and throughout that decade, we didn’t have any problems with book challenges or censorship. It all started really in a big way in 1980 … It came with the election, the presidential election of 1980, and the next day, I’ve been told, the censors were crawling out of the woodwork and challenging, like, ‘It’s our turn now, and we’re going to say what we don’t want our children to read.
7. Induction into the New Jersey Hall of Fame
On the same day as Jack Nicholson and Danny DeVito…
Image: New Jersey Hall of Fame
Honorable mentions for: Blubber, Forever, Just as Long as We’re Together, It’s Not The End of the World, Starring Sally J Freedman as Herself.