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Blubber by Judy Blume

Blubber (1974)

by Judy Blume

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Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
I'm unsure what to think about this book. This and "Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret" are the two titles everyone associates with Blume. I didn't know what it was about going in. YA titles often have bizarre names mostly to intrigue the reader, like "How to Eat Fried Worms" and "My Teacher is an Alien". Not this one.

Going in blind, I was allowed to judge the characters with impartiality. The main character, Jill, starts as whiny and spoiled, and doesn't get any better when she starts targeting the title character (a fat girl).

The bullying is instigated by ringleader Wendy, and the things she and Jill (and others) do to "Blubber" are absolutely atrocious, like trapping her in the bathroom and attempting to strip her. The story culminates in a mock trial of "Blubber" that becomes too unfair not to protest. For her insolence, Jill becomes the bullied. The story ends with friendships manipulated and changed, as often happens in elementary school.

When I realized the story was about bullying, and that the bully is the protagonist, I wasn't sure how to react. I had automatic lack of sympathy for her, which I can't believe Blume didn't expect. Then I started thinking, is this a cautionary tale? A walk in the other person's shoes? No, because the reader doesn't understand why Jill started bullying, or anyone in fact, and there's no consequences from it. Is it like "The Great Gatsby" where you're not supposed to sympathize with the characters but observe the decline and fall?

And I can't help reading this book without applying what we now know about bullying and girls. I'm not saying the book is out of date. Far from it, it's actually close to home. But you've also got more knowledge on the subject like Queen Bees and Wannabes, cyberbullying, school shootings, bullycide, causes of bullying, interventions, scapegoating, and so on.

Jill's bully persona doesn't match her non-school persona (she collects stamps, for God's sake). The bully's perspective didn't feel plausible (a book that did do it well was the sequel to "My Teacher is an Alien"). And in the book, it never goes beyond the circle of girls. The events feel disconnected, like "a bunch of stuff that happens".

I guess my two biggest complaints are that, except for Jill, we never get out of the bully cliche (even though Blume says she wrote this based on what was going on her daughter's class at the time -- maybe this is the kind of stuff that actually happens to girls and not boys). It's more about the instances of bullying. They're not well-developed, complex, or have backstory. The worst people on Earth are the most fascinating. The other complaint is that no one seems to learn anything by the end, except that "war changes things". Maybe that's the lesson we're supposed to learn? ( )
  theWallflower | Mar 27, 2014 |
This is one of the only Judy Blume books I hadn't read as a child, but I would have definitely related. Uncomfortably realistic, the cruel reality of girls is presented in only a way Blume could, showing, not telling. The quick allegiance swaps, pranks and name calling were painful to listen to (I read this as an audiobook), but I appreciated the honesty of it. This title is still a relevant insight into bullying for boys and girls today. ( )
  LibbyHopfauf | Mar 18, 2014 |
i can be ambivalent about a lot of children's books but the ones i like, i like a lot. this is brilliant fiction and quite chilling, actually in the what it shows us of humanity. if you haven't read it since you were a kid, pick it up again. ( )
  julierh | Apr 7, 2013 |
Before Lindsey Lohan tried to fit into the "in" crowd in Mean Girls, there was Jill in Judy Blume's story about the viciousness of 5th grade children, Blubber. Blume has a way of depicting the reality of school life - a reality that needs to be out there and talked about. In the case of Blubber, the protagonist, Jill, tries to fit in with the popular girls by picking on Linda, a slightly overweight girl in their class. Really horrible, mean things are done to Linda and there is not much of a happy ending, but it is a realistic portrayal of life in the Tween years. Challenged for: depicting children as evil and cruel without being punished for bad deeds; sexual references; profanity. ( )
  DiamondDog | Mar 29, 2013 |
I really enjoyed reading this book because I feel that Judy Blume did a great job of creating a fun story that also incorporated an important topic among young children, bullying. The story is about a young girl named Jill whose friends decide to start calling a girl in their class, "Blubber." At first the nickname seemed harmless. When the teasing continues, it does become a big deal. When Jill decides to stand up for the girl being bullied, her friend Wendy redirects her attention to bullying Jill. Jill learns that Wendy wasn’t a good friend and learns how wrong it was to tease and call someone Blubber. I would use this book as a mentor text for narrative writing. This could be a good way to start a writing prompt about a time when you felt bullied or saw bullying. I also think this is a great mentor text when talking about writing a theme into your pieces. Often times, the author is trying to teach us something in their writing. We would talk about how to write things with an inteded lesson you want the reader to learn. ( )
  andestac | Dec 3, 2012 |
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"It's very foolish to laugh if you don't know what's funny in the first place."  My best friend, Tracy Wu, says I'm really tough on people.
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Book description
A fifth grade girl, is bullied by her classmates because she is overweight. and thats why they call her blubber

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0440407079, Paperback)

Blubber is a good name for her, the note from Wendy says about Linda. Jill crumples it up and leaves it on the corner of her desk. She doesn't want to think about Linda or her dumb report on the whale just now. Jill wants to think about Halloween.

But Robby grabs the note, and before Linda stops talking it has gone halfway around the room.

That's where it all starts. There's something about Linda that makes a lot of kids in her fifth-grade class want to see how far they can go -- but nobody, least of all Jill, expects the fun to end where it does.

A New York Times Outstanding Book of the Year

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:32:42 -0400)

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Jill goes along with the rest of the fifth-grade class in tormenting a classmate and then finds out what it's like when she, too, becomes a target.

» see all 2 descriptions

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