on March 20, 2000
Kids can be cruel. It's a cliche, but it most certainly has some truth behind it. And no author better portrayed the mentality behind bullying better than Judy Blume did in "Blubber." The protaganist of "Blubber", Jill, is just an average girl who joins her class in the persecution of an overweight girl, Linda. She goes along with this persecution because she wants to fit in with her classmates and because of the sheer "fun" of it. It's real life, and anyone who has experienced Junior High School will recognize this vicious cycle of bullies, follow-the-leaders, and victims.
This is not a sitcom. There is no contrived happy ending or clear-cut victory for anyone. Linda is not a particularly likeable character. The ringleader of the bullies, Wendy, never gets her comeuppence. It's real life. Bullies get away with being creeps, and not every victim is a wonderful person. "Blubber" is a disturbing, but honest book.
on December 30, 2008
I find it amazing that there are reviewers on here that are 'appalled' at the way the kids in this story treat each other and 'swear'. I am a fifth grade teacher, and I can tell you, this is reality people. Not only have I been called a 'b..tch' to my face, I've heard other kids call teachers this and worse. I've seen kids trying to fit in by going along with the ring leader of the class, or singling out the weakest link in order to show their power. As for no resolution; this isn't a Disney Movie. This is how it happens in real life. Not every book should end with all the characters sitting around the campfire singing 'Kumbayaa'. And as for the reviewer who took her complaint about the book to the principal of the school to have it immediately removed. That is what I find appalling! This is America lady! Land of the Free, freedom of speech, press, and all that. Just because you find it offensive, doesn't make you are the judge for what every other child should be allowed to read. My mother gave this book over 30 years ago, when I was in fifth grade, and it still rings true today.
This book makes you angry, it makes you want to speak up for the underdog, it DOES teach a lesson. It's too bad some people were too narrow minded and focused on all those 'swear words' and sadly missed the point. Please...have you ridden a school bus lately? . Oh, and by the way, I'm proud to say this book is in my classroom library!
on November 6, 2001
I'm in the sixth grade and guess what? Real life is like this book! In fact, in my class, it's been like that for a while now. Adults may think it is cruel, mean, even horrifying how badly Wendy and all of the others treat Linda, but in reality, thousands of kids are tormented and teased everyday, and not just for being overweight. The teacher and parents in this book did act a little naive, but I got Judy Blume's point. I also can understand Jill, the bystander who gets pulled into the teasing of Linda. Wendy never gets what she deserves, but that is also a lesson that teachers and faculty should punish children like her. Overall, I thought this was an excellent book and totally got Judy Blume's point. I picked up this book because it was by Judy Blume and was not disappointed.
Oh, and about the swears. Have you ever heard a conversation between two 11 or 12 year olds? Kids swear a lot these days.
on August 19, 1999
for anyone reading this,i'm basically linda. im a 5th grader,and im 169 pounds.when i heard about this book i thought"hey,im not alone."and i dont eat too much.the only thing is that i wished linda narratted it.and you adults, kid ARE that mean.ive been teased since 1st grade.it hurts.a whole lot.
on August 27, 2001
I read this book years and years ago when I was about "Linda"'s age (I'm now 30) and it certainly hit home. In fact, I reread it a couple of years ago when I found it in a box of old books and the realism of Blume's fifth-grade world came flooding back. I was, unfortunately, one of the "fat kids" and, believe me, I received more than a bit of ridicule. And no, as is the case with Judy Blume's Wendy, those who inflicted the pain never got a "comeuppance" and, in fact, never seemed to think they had done wrong. Like "Linda", I was punished for looking the wrong way, breathing the wrong way and for generally just being there. The characters in this book are, unfortunately, very true to life and, for those readers who are disappointed in the curse words, that, too, is realistic. I vividly remember my sixth-grade vocabulary (and offended parents who don't think their kid would use them, well... just remember back). Granted, the book's tortuous subject and the characters' subsequent actions are enough to make a person sick but it is real... kids can be cruel and the scars they leave behind deep. And, though I haven't seen this brought into play in other reviews, it is clear that the adults in this book do little more than passively encourage the abuse of "Linda"... as I recall from my own disinterested educators, this is also an unfortunate reality. All in all, Blume has written a very honest depiction of the elementary school jungle and should be commended for it... warts and all. This book should serve as a wake-up call to more sensitive readers (possibly the bullies themselves), as well as the parents whose children are on the receiving end. It's a frankly honest portrayal of pre-teen behavior (although I will agree that Jill's parents are shallow and more than a little unrealistic). I would like to say, though, that for the kids who today feel like a "Linda"... you have my sympathy but believe me, things can get better. Several years after graduating high school, I ran into one of my worst tormentors - who not only had gained about 100 lbs. and now found himself in my former position, but sheepishly apologized for his past behavior. It was just too bad for him that, by then, his opinion no longer mattered to me; but I've often wondered why he finally apologized. Maybe he had finally read this book.
on July 22, 2004
I know one of the kid reviewers here said this book was "not for boys." I have to disagree with that, because I am male and this was one of my favorite books when I was a boy. When I was a child, I worshiped Judy Blume - I loved the "Fudge" series, "Are You There God?..." and "Starring Sally J. Freedman As Herself." But this one rang especially true for me because I, like Linda "Blubber" Fischer, was picked on for being overweight when I was a child. I still struggle with my weight today (and "struggle" is the operative word here). I think there are two real messages that we can derive from this book. There's the obvious "Golden Rule" lesson - treat others as you'd like to be treated, which Jill learns all too well when she dares to challenge Wendy's authority and pays the price when she becomes the target of the other kids' teasing. She also learns that actions have consequences when she and her friend Tracy egg a neighbor's mailbox, are caught in the act, and have to do yard work as punishment. But as one of the other reviewers pointed out, there's another lesson, and it's about standing up for yourself.
Linda isn't the largest girl in the school, but she's picked on because she doesn't bother to stand up for herself. Not to say that she "asks for it" - certainly no one deserves the kind of teasing and torment that she endures - but she makes it so easy for Wendy, Caroline, Jill et al. to walk all over her. I know because I was teased myself for many of the same reasons. The narrator, Jill, is a much stronger person than Linda - when Wendy wants to deny Linda a lawyer in her "trial," Jill insists that every trial needs to have a defense and a prosecution lawyer and, when Wendy still refuses, cancels the trial. That's why Wendy turned the rest of the class against Jill - because Jill stood up for Blubber, yes, but more so because Jill had the gall to contradict Wendy. This rings true as well - sometimes standing up for yourself and doing the right thing will have consequences. When this happens, you have to keep standing up for yourself, keep on fighting and don't give in. This is a lesson that Linda still hasn't learned by the end of the book. Jill, on the other hand, finally got sick of being teased and lashed out back at Wendy, and the teasing stopped. In a sense, Jill is both the villain (because she went along with the teasing of Linda) and the hero (because she fought back) of this story. That's what you need to do sometimes - fight back. Standing up for yourself will make you a stronger person. At the end of the book, although Jill may not be any more sympathetic toward Linda than she was before, and while she and Linda certainly haven't become friends, she's stronger and more sure of herself, and hopefully she'll also remember how much it hurt when she herself was teased and think twice before teasing someone else again. One is led to believe that since she's more independent now, she certainly won't blindly go along with what the class "ringleader" tells her to do. It's kind of a bittersweet ending - sweet for Jill, still bitter for Linda. It's unconventional, which is also part of what makes "Blubber" special.
I'm not sure I would recommend this book to very young readers because it's so gritty and honest - it doesn't sugarcoat anything, and while there are some funny moments (i.e. the "nobody sings 'breast' but Blubber" incident), even those are tempered with bitterness: think how poor Linda must have felt, being the only one to sing an embarrassing word like "breast." But readers of fourth-grade age and older will get a lot out of this book. There are some mild cuss words, but nothing that I think parents need to get their knickers in a knot about, and I certainly wouldn't advocate banning the book just because of that. Judy Blume's greatest strength has always been that she tells it like it is, and this classic is no exception and rings as true in 2004 as it did in 1974. Recommended.
on December 1, 2002
This book hits very close to home for me, as I imagine it would for anyone who was cruelly teased by their classmates.
Blume takes the unusual -- and brave -- tack of having her narrator/protagonist Jill be one of the people who picks on Linda Fischer. Therefore, Jill isn't terribly sympathetic. She is, however, very realistic. So is Wendy, who is established early on as more or less running the fifth-grade classroom. Jill says that "everyone knows you don't cross Wendy."
The inaction of the adults, who as another reviewer noted pretty much condone the cruelty of the children, is, unfortunately, how adults generally act in the face of such things, although Jill's mother shows that she is well aware of classroom pecking orders when Jill tells her about Linda and how she lets everyone walk all over her (one gets the impression that Jill feels at least some pity for her, albeit pity heavily mixed with disgust at Linda's passivity). Jill's mother warns her that the tables can turn in an instant and she could find herself in Linda's position. Jill exclaims she'll never be in Linda's position, to which her mother sagely -- and presciently -- replies: "Don't be too sure."
And what do you know, the tables do turn and Jill does find herself in Linda's position after -- you guessed it -- crossing Wendy. Her classmates are every bit as cruel to her as they, and she, were to Linda. However, unlike Linda, Jill fights back, and ends up in the same place she was at the beginning, wiser if not sadder.
Blume does an excellent job of capturing the politics of a fifth-grade classroom, as well as the snarky wit of an eleven-year-old girl (Jill's assessment of the loathsome Miss Rothbelle is hilarious). The love/hate relationship between Jill and her brother Kenny is also well done. And Jill's tearful second conversation with her mother, after she has been pushed to the bottom of the pecking order, is excellent; her mother offers her comfort unsullied by any pity.
on November 26, 2001
Judy Blume is the author of Blubber. It takes place in Mrs. Minish's classroom in 5th grade. It begins in Mrs. Minish's class while they were doing their reports. This one student, Linda Fischer, did a report on whales. She mentioned that whales have a thick layer of blubber that keep them warm and being that she was kinda of chubby all the kids called her Blubber from then on. Jill, protagonist, Caroline, and Wendy, antagonist always made fun of her and did mean things to her. In the bathroom they made her take off most of her cloths and another time they made her eat chocolate covered ants. The teacher was out of the room most of the time, so they were able to play around a lot. Well it turns out that Wendy using Linda and acts like her friend just to get Jill mad just because of some incident that happened at Halloween. Tracy and Jill stayed best friends. Caroline and Donna were still friends and Wendy and Linda became friends. I thought this book was good over all because is showed what really goes on in school when the teacher isn't around and that you can't always trust your friends. I would recommend this book to 5th graders because it is easy reading and tells you about things that 5th graders like to do to other classmates.
on August 24, 2005
I remember this book so well, I can still see the original cover even though it's in a landfill someplace now. The two girls at their desks snickering to themselves while Linda, the unsuspecting victim, is standing before the chalkboard pointing to the drawing of a whale that would dub her "Blubber". As a child, I laughed. But a few years later I was crying, I still cry when I pick this book up.
Jill gets a note passed to her during Linda's presentation on whales and blubber. The note reads "Blubber would be a good name for her". While she didn't intend for it to get passed around, another kid picks it up and soon it's all over the place and, sure enough, Linda gets the nickname Blubber. Because she's fat. And naturally, Jill joins in on the madness and it turns on her, just like it does or can in real life. What does this teach us? It's tells us about the affects of bullying, peer pressure, the dangers of pranks (Halloween), and what it looks like when you are a follower. Of course, this was written in 1970 something. In those days we did not necessarily have to worry about some student committing suicide, bringing a gun in and mowing down everyone in his path, or even having law suits about anything among the extremely uptight, but that's another story.
This taught me the Golden Rule: Do onto others as you would onto you. Girls are caddy and mean, whether you're in grade school or as an adult in an office (populated mostly by women). There will be jealous comments, backstabbing, greed and ugliness. And you can go along with it like the followers in this book, live in fear of crossing the leader and decide to go along with what they do or say, or you can be the best person you can be and rise above. You can lash out at others, or you can give of yourself the love that no one gave them. Practice forgiveness, be good to others, and don't follow just because someone says so or because it's easy. As this is a kid's book, it turns it around and shows you what it's like when Jill suddenly becomes the victim. It's not fun. Unfortunately we find out as well that those who are not followers and who choose the high road will be there all alone 90% of the time, as the others will choose to be a follower so as not to be alone or because they are afraid to do the right things. Cowardice is, after all, far safer and provides strength in numbers. Taking the high road is true bravery.
Besides, those who cause such terrible things will continue to cause terrible things and hurt others. They will be the ones going through misery for most of their lives. And don't worry, when you go to your high school reunions, they'll get divorced and fat and have delinquent kids just as bad as they were.
on October 25, 2005
In most books marketed for 9-12 year olds, school is generally described as an enriching atmosphere populated by colourful characters. Not so with Blubber. Almost all the characters (including Jill, the narrarator) are selfish, sometimes even mean, and they make life a living hell for Linda, "the pudgiest girl in the class." Blume writes realistically and passionately, urging adults and teachers to be on the lookout for signs of bullying. Her writing about cruelty in the classroom is unemotional, as seen through the eyes of Jill, the passive observer.
As a family story, Blubber has little to offer, but as a school story it is exceptional. The classroom seems like a real place, with all of the little details of the fifth grade drawn clearly and accurately. Blume must have an amazing memory to be able to recreate a time and atmosphere from so long ago.
I wouldn't recommend this book to obese children, it would probably just make them feel horrible. This book is not a guide for dealing with obesity, or even bullying. Instead, it is a realistic portrayal of fifth grade dynamics. Kids should be able to recognize several of the characters in their own classrooms, and will hopefully gain insight on how important it is to sometimes sacrifice popularity in order to do the right thing. Blubber was published about 30 years ago, and maybe it's just me, but it seems that kids are better behaved these days. Or maybe, like Wendy, they are just adept at hiding inappropriate behaviour from adults. I hope the former is true.