Women Who Broke The Rules: Judy Blume: Are You There Read­er? It’s Me, Judy!

Kath­leen Krull; David Leonard, illus.
  • Review
By – July 14, 2016

The pic­ture book Judy Blume: Are You There Read­er? It’s Me, Judy! details how the Jew­ish author became known for writ­ing her way through con­tro­ver­sy and cen­sor­ship to become a pio­neer who helped make it okay for kids and teens to dis­cuss their every­day concerns. 

The biog­ra­phy traces the author’s life and acknowl­edges that Blume came from a Jew­ish fam­i­ly. Her fam­i­ly fol­lowed some tra­di­tions but was not par­tic­u­lar­ly reli­gious. Her father had six broth­ers and sis­ters, most of whom died dur­ing Judy’s child­hood. Her fam­i­ly was always sit­ting Shi­va” — the week-long Jew­ish tra­di­tion of mourn­ing a close rel­a­tive. Reli­gion was so con­fus­ing.” Those con­fus­ing and upset­ting expe­ri­ences were clear­ly a spring­board for Blume’s ques­tions that she answered in her stories. 

The book, along with the whim­si­cal draw­ings, acknowl­edges that Blume grew up dur­ing a sti­fling time when chil­dren, espe­cial­ly girls had to be Lit­tle Miss Per­fect.” Not par­tic­u­lar­ly reli­gious, Blume had a way of telling engag­ing sto­ries about things peo­ple don’t always like to talk about but real­ly want to under­stand. Blume’s take is close to Midrash — sto­ries that respond to con­tem­po­rary prob­lems mak­ing con­nec­tions between new Jew­ish real­i­ties. In Blume’s case she helped gen­er­a­tions of peo­ple make sense of their place in an often unjust world. 

The book has impor­tant lessons as it explains Blume as a writer who has faced ridicule and rejec­tion. Her abil­i­ty to pro­duce frank and fun­ny books, gave Blume an impor­tant role in people’s lives. Pic­ture book author Kath­leen Krull explains that Blume receives 2,000 let­ters a month. Much of the mail is from fans but a lot are from peo­ple crit­i­cal of Blume’s sub­ject mat­ter. As a result Blume’s books have raised con­tro­ver­sy and been banned. 

Told as a high concept/​low vocab­u­lary biog­ra­phy, Krull explains that Blume has used her celebri­ty and the con­tro­ver­sy sur­round­ing her books to pro­mote free­dom of the press, a more open soci­ety, and to be a cham­pi­on for equal­i­ty for women and girls. 

Rec­om­mend­ed for ages 6 – 9.

Discussion Questions