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Judy Blume, Prolific Author and YA Literature Trailblazer

Brief Profile

Full Name Judith Sussman Blume
Age 85 years old
Birthday February 12, 1938
Hometown Elizabeth, New Jersey, USA
No. of Books Published Over 25
Total Copies Sold Over 85 million worldwide

Beloved American author Judy Blume has been capturing the hearts and minds of young readers for over five decades. Born in 1938 in New Jersey, her 25+ books have sold over 85 million copies and been translated into dozens of languages. Revered for tackling complex "taboo" topics, Blume‘s candid portrayals of adolescent experiences established her as one of the most influential voices in young adult (YA) literature.

Early Life and Inspiration

Blume grew up an avid reader, devouring classics like Little Women which sparked her imagination. As a child, she would entertain herself by making up elaborate stories. It wasn‘t until she was married with young children that Blume began writing in earnest. She wanted to put down on paper the kinds of stories she couldn‘t find for her own kids. Blume‘s work was influenced by her own childhood and observations of contemporary youth navigating confusing topics like puberty, sexuality, and death.

Groundbreaking Novels and Themes

Blume cemented her reputation throughout the 1970s and 80s with several acclaimed and groundbreaking works:

  • Are You There God? It‘s Me, Margaret (1970) – Follows sixth grader Margaret navigating puberty and questioning religion. Called "masterpiece about childhood" by Time Magazine.
  • *Blubber (1974) – Tells the story of classroom bullying against an overweight girl. Boldly addressed cruelty children are capable of.
  • *Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (1972) – Hilarious yet poignant novel about a nine-year old boy‘s frustrations with his toddler brother. Won Blume a Newbery Honor.
  • *Forever (1975) – Controversial at the time for its depictions of sexuality and intimacy among high schoolers. Still considered a seminal YA novel.

"Judy Blume writes with honesty, humor, and a lack of moralizing that sets her apart from almost all authors writing for teenagers today." – Children‘s Literature

Blume‘s characters grapple with divorce, puberty, family strife, death, bullying, and young romance. While banned in some places, her books gave voice to experiences that many teens endured but couldn‘t discuss openly.

Banned Books Controversies

Blume was a top target of book censors and banned book challenges. Between 1981-1996, Forever was the most challenged book in America due to its sexual content. Blubber and Deenie also made the list of most challenged books for their unflinching portrayals of bullying and female adolescence. When asked about censorship, Blume stated:

"It‘s not just the books under fire now that worry me. It is the books that will never be written. The books that will never be read. And all due to the fear of censorship. As always, young readers will be the real losers."

Accolades and Achievements

Blume racked up dozens of literary accolades over her prolific career:

  • 1981 National Book Award Finalist for Tiger Eyes
  • 2014 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters
  • 1976 Massachusetts Children‘s Book Award for Forever
  • 1998 Regina Medal from Catholic Library Association
  • 2010 "Living Legend" honor from Library of Congress

She also received achievement awards from the American Library Association and the International Reading Association for her lasting contributions.

Fun Facts About the Esteemed Author

Though serious in her writing, Blume had a playful spirit and engageing persona. A few inside anecdotes:

  • She wrote first drafts of all her books by hand on special yellow legal notepads.
  • An asteroid discovered in 1980 was named "10473 Judyblume" in her honor.
  • She loved interacting with fans and estimated she read 25,000-30,000 fan letters sent to her over the years.
  • Blume still holds out hope for a film adaptation of Are You There God? It‘s Me, Margaret done right. Prior options expired without a proper movie being made.

Lasting Legacy

Over 50 years since her debut novel, nearly every one of Judy Blume‘s 25+ books remains in print and circulates widely. She is credited with revolutionizing YA literature, bravely addressing topics once considered taboo for young readers. Blume provided generations of teens with the comfort, understanding, and honesty conveyed through her novels. Her fanbase spans decades of readers who grew up reading classics like Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and Forever. As Rolling Stone declared, "Judy Blume played a singular role in escorting girlhood and puberty into modern Young Adult fiction." Blume‘s influence shines through in the work of many contemporary YA authors who followed in her courageous footsteps.