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Santa Unmasked

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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 12, 2006 1:49:09 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 4, 2006 6:53:00 AM PDT
I have trouble with the idea of readers saying they won't allow their children to read this because it reveals the secret of Santa. As I said in my review, whenever anything is denied a child, it is only going to create more questions. Had this book been denied me as a child, I would have read it at the library to see what the forbidden part was or asked a neighbor to lend it to me and let me read it there so I could see what the mysterious part was.

Preserving a child's innocence is all well and good. However, I've had trouble with Santa for several reasons. I realize this is my own subjective view, but it is a view that has been shared with me by many others. My issues with Santa are as follows:

* I thought Santa was all about conditional love. "Toe the line and meet this/that/or the other goal and then you'll get gifts" which also contained the messages of one having to earn their gifts and is loved only when they appease those in charge. I don't like that. Santa was also held over my head as a threat which I also feel undermined what the Christmas spirit is all about.

* At 4, I thought my own family was mad at me and not getting me gifts. I asked why only Santa brought me gifts. Luckily some quick thinking disabused me of thinking my own family overlooked me at Christmas, but still it did point up to a Santa issue. Kind of makes you think of Blanche DuBois depending on the kindness of strangers.

* I was friends and classmates with two boys, one of whom attended the same church I did. Both boys came from poor families and got next to nothing for Christmas. From the time I was 6 I felt twinges of guilt at the gifts I got when these boys and others got so little. For the following 3 years I wondered why "Santa" didn't do more for them since they needed more. I really thought Santa played favorites.

* Even before I learned about the wonderful history and traditions of Hannuka, I wondered why "Santa" overlooked Jewish families. That convinced me all the more as a very young child that "Santa" played favorites.

* I was given cryptic answers and never told directly that Santa was "just an idea." A very kind peer told me and I will be forever grateful to him for that. Add to it I ran the risk of really embarrassing myself had I said anything about Santa to peers. At 9, which was my last Christmas of believing in Santa, it was a sobering experience to learn that children younger than I was then were already Santa savvy. How I envied them!

* In my individual case, I felt lied to and tricked. To this day I can remember the deep embarrassment I felt once the truth came out about Santa. What's so great about believing in Santa, anyhow? I still wish I'd never believed in Santa in the first place.

* Some relatives and others I know have said the same thing. They all either wish they hadn't believed or feel lucky in having learned early in the game. How I truly wish I'd never believed Santa in the first place!

* I liked when I was taught to extend oneself and to provide cheer for others rather than to acquire gifts. I like the way my church has been instrumental in teaching the message of goodness - pass it on and be actively involved in sharing holiday cheer with others. That works for me.

Still, I think this book does a real service. Not only does it tackle serious topics and even philosophical ones, such as Santa, it is also presented in a very humorous way. Delightful characters and one, like Fudge with a big, literary personality will continue having staying power and will continue to delight readers for time immemorial.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 10, 2007 10:18:50 AM PDT
Celeste says:
I understand your point. Everyone has a right to their own traditions. I just wish the book had included a warning about the subject matter so that the discussion of whether or not Santa actually exists is one of choice (and not the result of being literally "blind-sided"). My six year old reads a chapter to me every night. I didn't see the "Santa thing" coming but wish I had. I would have thought twice about encouraging my daughter to continue reading the series.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 17, 2011 1:31:55 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 25, 2013 2:29:28 PM PDT
Phloyd says:
There are a lot of reasons to question the magical notions of childhood. However, the issue w/ Judy Blume is whether or not it's fair to dismantle one of these notions in a book targeted to pre-teen children. As a parent of borderline "believers", I can't help feeling somewhat betrayed by an author - even one as beloved as Blume - who would take it upon him/herself to completely cut down the Santa myth without any hint of subtlety or margin of error. For a children's author, this is a very severe stance to take and one that is most certainly intentional. In all my years of teaching and reading children's books, I have witnessed only one other author who took the same bold position ("A PeeWee Christmas" of the Pee Wee Scouts series) and the reason there are so few is this: *most* children's authors respect the varying ages, circumstances, and beliefs of their young audiences. Even The Diary of A Wimpy Kid series (which is targeted to an even older market than Blume's Fudge books) takes care to discuss Santa in very "cloudy" terms, and that kind of intentional cloudiness is an act of courtesy for parents, esp. those with young kids reading books at a slightly higher level and those who trust that certain topics will remain subtle.

Posted on Feb 25, 2013 6:42:53 AM PST
tajmojen says:
I love literature (and I am including the "Superfudge" books in this distinction) because it reaches beyond the surface realm of entertainment and touches on our humanity, a topic that isn't always as Disney as mainstream culture might prefer. Phloyd said that Blume cuts down the Santa myth "without any hint of subtlety or margin of error" and points out that it is "most certainly intentional." Phloyd is right...and that's okay. We have to keep in mind that Blume, who is a classic, beloved children's author for a reason, is also an artist who, as good artists should, maintains her integrity by communicating her intended message honestly and without regret. Blume demonstrates great intuition through her well-developed characters and clear understanding of human nature, so she had to have considered the potential negative impact the "Santa" chapter might have on some readers. Even so, she was not deterred by the fear of offending potential readers or defying societal expectations, nor should she have been. It is not the artist's responsibility to make us happy or comfortable. It is, however, a parent's responsibility (if the parent feels so compelled) to preview the media to which his or her children are exposed. Please don't accuse Blume of disrespect. The real disrespect to the reader would have been if Blume dumbed down or muted her message for the sake of avoiding criticism.

In reply to an earlier post on May 21, 2013 3:48:35 AM PDT
KWDC says:
Your opinion, repeated every time a poster writes to criticize Blume about unequivocally dashing the Santa belief. I maintain that parents should be warned ahead of time what this book contains. It is their choice how they wish to raise their children and with what beliefs or traditions, not yours or Blume's. Blume crossed the line with this outing and parents deserve to know before their children read this book.

Posted on Jun 22, 2013 11:32:02 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 25, 2013 2:37:22 PM PDT
Phloyd says:
I appreciate the non-confrontational tone of your post! But I respectfully disagree with your point that authors of children's lit have the same freedom of artistic expression as YA or adult authors. Technically speaking, they *do* have the same freedom, but they also have a greater responsibility to consider their readers before saying whatever they want in the name of honesty. If we apply the argument that it's not the author's responsibility to make readers "happy or comfortable" and authors should "not be deterred by the fear of offending potential readers" then should we still respect a children's author who chooses to celebrate bullies, or pathological liars, or maybe even an occasional murderer? Obviously I'm exaggerating, but my point is that tajmojen's argument holds the artist/author responsible for nothing and the parent responsible for all, which seems slightly out of balance- especially since both parties have influential roles in the *children's* world.

I do agree that children's authors should NOT be limited to "Disney" topics, and many have written great books on topics like divorce, autism, racism, bullying, war, anxiety, incest, etc. But at the same time, authors should not be cruel to their readers DIRECTLY and PERSONALLY. We can call it "artistic integrity", but regardless of how we slice it, Blume's santa outing is cruel to her 6 & 7 year old readers- and she *knew* it would be so. And in that regard, I most definitely do accuse Blume of disrespect, for the very reason that she is - as tajmojen said- a "classic, beloved author" who "demonstrates great intuition". That status- which perhaps she feels is a burden to her inner artist- puts her in an even more significant position of taking care with her audience.

I'm not sure I understand how Blume's santa reveal is a form of artistic expression or how she would have "dumbed down or muted her message" if she avoided it. Is there a brave, bold message she's trying to communicate by crushing the santa myth? If so, I'm not getting it.

Lastly, a quick point about parent responsibility since many posters have tried to explain this frustration in children's lit topics: no matter how responsible we are as parents, or how "compelled" we feel to do so, it is virtually impossible for a parent to "preview the media" to which our children are exposed. By way of example, my daughter has come home from school with 2 or 3 chapters of a book already completed before I've even laid eyes on the title. Even with intensive previewing and/or pre-reading, a parent can still occasionally be blindsided by the content of a children's book.
Even a widely celebrated one.
Like Blume's.
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Discussion in:  Superfudge forum
Participants:  5
Total posts:  6
Initial post:  May 12, 2006
Latest post:  Jun 22, 2013

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Superfudge (Xover) (Puffin Easy-To-Read Cork & Fuzz - Level 3)
Superfudge (Xover) (Puffin Easy-To-Read Cork & Fuzz - Level 3) by Judy Blume (Paperback - May 12, 2003)
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