Judy Blume's body of work returns to her original editor, Richard Jackson, with the rerelease of four classics in hardcover. An African-American family moves to all-white Grove Street in Iggie's House, to be released in April. The author's breakthrough title, Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, about 11-year old Margaret Simon's struggles with puberty and religion, is now available in hardcover as well as in a Spanish-language edition, Estas ahi Dios? Soy yo, Margaret. Two additional titles came out last season: Blubber takes on preteen teasing; and It's Not the End of the World explores the effects of divorce. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Margaret Simon is starting sixth grade in a new school in a new state. She and her parents have just moved from New York City to a suburb in New Jersey. Margaret is not too happy about all this. For one thing, the move has taken her away from her grandmother, Sylvia Simon, who is her biggest fan. Chapter one begins with Margaret talking to God. She tells God how scared she is to be facing all these changes. Throughout the book, Margaret talks to God in a very open and spontaneous way. Although she talks to God, Margaret does not belong to any one religion. Her parents were both raised in different faiths and their marriage created problems for their extended families. So they decided to let Margaret make her own decision about joining a religion when she gets older. This is an issue for Margaret in the suburbs because it seems that all the kids she meets are either Christian or Jewish. Margaret also worries about being liked by her classmates. She soon meets a girl named Nancy, and becomes part of her group. The girls are obsessed with boys and bodily changes. They are curious in a healthy way about how they will change from girls to teenagers. Female readers will identify with Margaret and relate to the things she worries about during her sixth grade year. Although this book was originally published in 1970, the issues Margaret deals with are timely for today's girls on the verge of adolescence. Readers will laugh with Margaret. It will be easy for girls to imagine themselves in Margaret's world because it is a realistic one. She experiences a wide range of emotions, all of which will strike a chord with readers. 2004 (orig. 1970), Dell Yearling/Random House, Ages 10 to 14.
Jeanne K. Pettenati, J.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret is Judy Blume's account of what it is like to be an almost 12-year-old girl whose greatest desire is just to be normal. The novel is honest and forthright. Margaret Simon worries that she doesn't have anything to fill her bra, that she will be the last girl in her group of friends to start menstruating, that she just won't fit in. And to compound things, she has no religion, so she can't join either the Jewish Community Center or the Protestant Youth Center in her new neighborhood. This recorded version of Margaret's conversations with God, her parents, friends and us, the audience, is even more authentic than the book. Laura Hamilton's reading captures Margaret's anxiety in her conversations with God, her indignation in some conversations with her parents, and her enthusiasm and vulnerability in conversations with her friends. She can emphasize the girls' fixation with the pronunciation of new words in their life, as well as Margaret's pain when she is forced to cancel her planned holiday visit to Florida to see her much loved grandmother. Listeners seem to be co-conspirators, sympathetic friends, and always important members of Margaret's entourage. This conversational story is well-served here.Edith Ching, St. Albans School, Washington, DC
Children's Literature - Anne Pechnyo
Blume’s classic, originally published in 1970, is reissued with a new cover. Margaret Simon is eleven years old, going on twelve, and has to tackle all of the challenges that come with moving from New York City to a New Jersey suburb. Margaret begins to talk to God about her problems, the main one being her desire to be viewed by her new peers as “normal.” However, this seems to compound her problems even more, since she talks to God but is not a part of an organized religion like all of her classmates. Margaret joins a group of girls, and learns lessons about boys, bodily changes, and friendship along the way. Margaret narrates the story, with her thoughts to God italicized throughout the book, always beginning with: “Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret.” Readers today will still relate to Margaret, and will sympathize with and support her throughout the story. Lauren Rille designed the new jacket to look like Margaret is texting God and awaiting a response, and the jacket illustrations are by Debbie Ridpath Ohi. This story remains a classic for adolescent girls. Reviewer: Anne Pechnyo; Ages 8 to 12.
Read an Excerpt
Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret. We’re moving today. I’m so scared God. I’ve never lived anywhere but here. Suppose I hate my new school? Suppose everybody there hates me? Please help me God. Don’t let New Jersey be too horrible. Thank you.Copyright 1991 by Judy Blume
We moved on the Tuesday before Labor Day. I knew what the weather was like the second I got up. I knew because I caught my mother sniffing under her arms. She always does that when it’s hot and humid, to make sure her deodorant’s working. I don’t use deodorant yet. I don’t think people start to smell bad until they’re at least twelve. So I’ve still got a few months to go.
I was really surprised when I came home from camp and found out our New York apartment had been rented to another family and that we owned a house in Farbrook, New Jersey. First of all I never even heard of Farbrook. And second of all, I’m not usually left out of important family decisions.
But when I groaned, “Why New Jersey?” I was told, “Long Island is too social-Westchester is too expensive-and Connecticut is too inconvenient.”
So Farbrook, New Jersey it was, where my father could commute to his job in Manhattan, where I could go to public school, and where my mother could have all the grass, trees and flowers she ever wanted. Except I never knew she wanted that stuff in the first place.
The new house is on Morningbird Lane. It isn’t bad. It’s part brick, part wood. Also, there is a very nice brass knocker. Every house on our new street looks a lot the same. They are all seven years old. Soare the trees.
I think we left the city because of my grandmother, Sylvia Simon. I can’t figure out any other reason for the move. Especially since my mother says Grandma is too much of an influence on me. It’s no big secret in our family that Grandma sends me to summer camp in New Hampshire. And that she enjoys paying my private school tuition (which she won’t be able to do any more because now I’ll be going to public school). She even knits me sweaters that have labels sewed inside saying MADE EXPRESSLY FOR YOU…BY GRANDMA.
And she doesn’t do all that because we’re poor. I know for a fact that we’re not. I mean, we aren’t rich but we certainly have enough. Especially since I’m an only child. That cuts way down on food and clothes. I know this family that has seven kids and every time they go to the shoe store it costs a bundle. My mother and father didn’t plan for me to be an only child, but that’s the way it worked out, which is fine with me because this way I don’t have anybody around to fight.
Anyhow, I figure this house-in-New-Jersey business is my parents’ way of getting me away from Grandma. She doesn’t have a car, she hates buses and she thinks all trains are dirty. So unless Grandma plans to walk, which is unlikely, I won’t be seeing much of her. Now some kids might think, who cares about seeing a grandmother? But Sylvia Simon is a lot of fun, considering her age, which I happen to know is sixty. The only problem is she’s always asking me if I have boyfriends and if they’re Jewish. Now that is ridiculous because number one I don’t have boyfriends. And number two what would I care if they’re Jewish or not?