Happy Birthday, Judy Blume!
I've been known to announce my love for Judy Blume at dinners, friends' parties, and once during a conversation with a stranger on a plane. Every time I claim that at 32 she's still one of my all time favorite authors, I expect a look of disbelief and then, "You mean that children's book writer?" Except the funniest thing happens. People look relieved, confess they love her too, and then tell me that [Insert one of her many titles here] was one of their favorite books as a kid.
For the mention of an author's name to elicit such enthusiasm, especially since many fans around my age haven't read her books in decades, is pretty rare. It's a testament to the fact that Judy Blume isn't merely a children's book author. She's a stand-in teacher, friend, and even sometimes, a mom. So it's not surprising that when I asked my co-workers if they'd like to pay tribute to Ms. Blume a fair number chimed in (including myself):
"Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret was a deeply important part of my awkward preteen years. It was the first book I saw as more than just entertainment: It was a health book (much more honest than my mother was going be to me about women’s health issues at that age); it was a confidante (even my friends weren’t baring their souls to that depth); and mostly, it was the first time I realized that writing, something I had always loved, could really and truly be a career. Judy Blume wrote directly to me, or so I thought, and in turn I wanted to be her when I grew up." -- Ali Foster, Site Merchandising Specialist
"When I was 12-years-old few names meant as much to me as Margaret Simon. Although she wasn't a friend in the traditional meet-up-in-person-after school sense, Margaret and I were BFFs in the place most special to me: my mind. Looking back I see that she was an intermediary between my teddy bear best friend to an actual human BF who I could actually call at any hour of the night. Like the stuffed Gund panda still atop a shelf in the room I grew up in, I refuse to dispose of my copy of Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret nor Margaret herself. Some things I'll hold close to my heart forever." -- Jessica Schein, Site Merchandiser
"Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Blubber, and Then Again, Maybe I Won’t were some of my favorite books when I was a kid. Judy Blume has an amazing gift for taking children’s lives seriously without draining them of humor. She can speak to young people on their own terms, neither belittling nor glorifying their trials and tribulations. And, like life, Ms. Blume’s stories don’t tend to wrap up tidily with a little bow or neatly timed tragedy and catharsis, but rather with a contemplative pause between earned experience and an open future." -- David Stalder, Site Merchandising Specialist
"Judy Blume is one of my childhood heroes and I read her books through the years of my own coming of age--from the adventures of good ol’ Fudge books, to Blubber, and of course, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. Whenever her name pops up, I think “ohhh, Judy Blume” because she is an icon for me still, a champion of books and readers who will always be special to me. Happy Birthday, Judy Blume!" --Children's Books Editor
"Judy Blume helped shape my childhood, even my coming of age. In the rare moments when I wax nostalgic for adolescence, it's easy to confuse my real-life memories with her vivid imagination. Didn't Sally J. Freedman live down the block? Wasn't Superfudge my other brother? From her books, I learned about Kreskin's Krystal, jellyfish stings, tiger's eyes, tampons, scoliosis, first love. In no small part, I owe my literary consciousness to Judy Blume." -- Mia Lipman, Site Merchandiser
So from all of us at Amazon, happy birthday, Judy Blume! Here's to many more generations of fans falling in love with you just as we did.