Juvenile Books Author of the Month
12 February 1938 -- ???
Judy Blume was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey on February 12, 1938 to Rudolph and Esther (Rosenfeld) Sussman. Her parents were also born and raised in Elizabeth. The Sussmans had known each other since they were teenagers and married when Dr. Sussman graduated from dental school.
As a child, Judy would often creep up into the attic of the family home to play. She would dress up in all sorts of homemade costumes and make-up and star in her own feature films. Her brother David, who was four years older than she, would often tease her for the adventures she would create when playing with her dolls. Judy didn't care, though, because she wanted to be a movie star when she grew up.
Judy also enjoyed reading. She would often go to the library with her mother. Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans was her favorite book when she was small. She later graduated to the Oz books by L. Frank Baum. Books were always special to her. "I not only liked the pictures and the stories, but also the feel and the smell of the books...Books opened up a whole new world to me. Through them, I discovered new ideas, traveled to new places, and met new people. Books helped me learn to understand other people and they taught me a lot about myself." (3)
Judy was very close to her father. She would often join him in his basement workshop while he built all sorts of things from scratch. "When I was small he would sit me up on the workbench, with a hammer and nails so that I would feel included , and sharing something special with him."(1)
The United States entered World War II when Judy was four. Her father Rudolph volunteered as an air warden. As a result, he had to help prepare the town of Elizabeth for an enemy attack, which fortunately never came. After the war, life pretty much returned to normal in the Sussman household.
A few years later when Judy was about to enter the third grade, the family had a big scare. Judy's brother David became very sick, and it was decided that he needed to live in a warmer climate. The family decided to move to Miami Beach, Florida. Unfortunately, Judy's father could not leave his dental practice in New Jersey. He promised to visit often, but Judy knew that she would still miss him terribly.
Judy did not like living in Miami Beach at first. The family's apartment was really small, and Judy had no friends the first few weeks. After a short while, though, she learned that she could make friends quickly. It was through some of these friends that Judy was introduced to ballet. She started taking ballet classes, and it was experiences such as these that found their way into Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself. The Sussman family was able to return to New Jersey in June.
Judy attended Battin High School in her home town. She sang in the chorus, studied modern dance, and worked on the school newspaper. Graduating with high honors, Judy was the class valedictorian and decided to go to Boston University.
Shortly after arriving at Boston University, Judy had to be sent home because she was very sick. Because of her illness, she missed so much time that she was going to have to restart the school year in January. In the Spring, Judy decided to go to New York University instead of returning to Boston.
During Christmas vacation of her sophomore year, Judy met John M. Blume, a law student at New York University. A year later, John asker her to marry him. They were married on August 15, 1959. Judy's father died a few days before the wedding.
1961 brought with it some more positive news for the Blume family. Judy graduated from NYU with a degree in Education. She was also pregnant with her first child. She had planned on teaching second grade, but Judy and John decided that her teaching career would have to wait. Their daughter Randy Lee was born later that year.
Two years later, Randy was given a younger brother, Larry. Judy quickly settled into her new role as housewife and mother. While she filled her mornings with work around the house and caring for her children, Judy decided that she wanted something more. That year she started creating children's banners, which she sold to Bloomingdale's in New York.
After a year, Judy tired of this sort of work. She started writing children's books. She was not successful at first. In fact, she received a number of rejection letters in response to stories she sent to publishers. Judy was about to give up when she received a brochure in the mail from New York University. The brochure included a listing for a class entitled "Writing for Children and Teenagers." It was a class that she took. The class became the highlight of her week. She enjoyed it so much that when it was over, she took it a second time.
In 1966, Judy finally started getting stories published. She published two short stories, "The Flying Munchkins" and "The Ooh-ooh-aah Bird." Later that year, Trailblazer magazine ran Iggie's House as a serial.
In 1969, Judy received a phone call from Reilly and Lee, a publishing company. They wanted to publish what would be her first book, The One in the Middle Is the Green Kangaroo. Since then, Judy has written more than 20 books, many of which have won numerous awards.
In 1987, the Kids Fund at Kean College in Union New Jersey was founded by Judy. It is a charitable and educational foundation. The fund is supported by royalties from several of her books, including Letters to Judy, a book of letters from her young readers. Judy is a Board member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, where she co-sponsors a grant for contemporary fiction in progress. She also serves on the Council of the Authors Guild and is an active spokesperson for the National Coalition Against Censorship, working to protect intellectual freedom.
Judy Blume now lives in New York City with her third husband and continues to write for children of all ages.
Information for this biography was taken from:
1) Tracy Chevalier (ed.). Twentieth Century Children Writers; St. James Press: New York, 1989.
2) Anne Commire (ed.). Contemporary Authors, #31; Gale Research Company: Detroit, Mich., 1983.
3) Betsy Lee. Judy Blume's Story; Dillon Press: Minneapolis, Minn., 1977
4) Jill C. Wheeler. Judy Blume; Abdo Consulting Group, Inc.: Minneapolis, Minn., 1996.
E-BLU The Pain and the Great One (1974) - A six-year-old, the Pain, and his eight-year-old sister, the Great One, see each other as troublemakers and the best-loved in the family.
J-Blume/J-P-BLU Are You There God? It's Me Margaret (1970) - Faced with the difficulties of growing up and choosing a religion, a twelve-year-old girl talks over her problems with her own private god.
J-BLU/J-P-BLU Blubber (1974) - Jill goes along with the rest of the fifth grade class in tormenting a classmate. She then finds out what it is like when she, too, becomes a target.
J-BLU/J-P-BLU Freckle Juice (1971) - Andrew wants freckles so badly that he buys Sharonís freckle recipe for fifty cents.
J-BLU/J-P-BLU Fudge-a-mania (1990) - Pete describes the family vacation in Maine with the Tubmans, highlighted by the antics of his younger brother Fudge.
J-P-BLU Here's to You, Rachel Robinson (1993) - Expelled from boarding school, Charles' presence at home proves disruptive, especially for sister Rachel, a gifted seventh grader juggling friendships and school activities.
J-Blume/J-P-BLU Iggie's House (1970) - When a black family with three children moves into the white neighborhood, eleven-year-old Winnie learns the difference between being a good neighbor and being a good friend.
J-BLU/J-P-BLU Itís Not the End of the World (1972) - When her parents divorce, a sixth grader struggles to understand that sometimes people are unable to live together.
J-P-BLU Just As Long As Weíre Together (1987) - Stephanie's relationship with her best friend, Rachel, changes during her first year in junior high as she tries to conceal a family problem and meets a new girl from California.
J-BLU The One in the Middle is the Green Kangaroo (1981) - Freddie hates being the middle one in the family until he gets a part in the school play.
J-BLU/J-P-BLU Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great (1972) - A summer in Tarrytown, N.Y., is a lot of fun for ten-year-old Sheila even though her friends make her face up to some self-truths that she does not want to admit.
J-BLU Starring Sally J. Freeman As Herself (1977) - While spending the winter of 1947-48 in Miami Beach with her family, ten-year-old Sally makes up stories, casts herself in starring roles in movies, and encounters a sinister stranger.
J-Blume/J-P-BLU Superfudge (1980) - Peter describes the highs and lows of life with his younger brother Superfudge.
J-BLU/J-P-BLU Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (1972) - Peter finds his demanding two-year-old brother Fudge an ever-increasing problem.
J-LPeD-BLU Then Again, Maybe I Won't (1971) - Unable to accept or explain his familyís newly acquired wealth, his new urges, and a friendís shoplifting habit, thirteen-year-old Tony finds the pains in his stomach getting worse and worse.
J-BLU Tiger Eyes (1981) - Resettled in the "Bomb City", with her mother and brother, Davey Wexler recovers from shock of her fatherís death during a hold-up of his 7-Eleven store in Atlantic City.
For More Information About Judy Blume
J-92 BLUME Judy Blume's Story (1977) by Betsy Lee - A short biography that covers her childhood in depth.
Classic Children's Literature Author Judy Blume (http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Classic+Children's+Literature+Author+Judy+Blume-a01074109655) - The Free Library provides information about the works by a number of authors, including Judy Blume. This page looks at many of her works and provides links to sites to learn more about the author.
Judy Blume (http://www.kutztown.edu/faculty/reagan/blume.html) - An interesting site that provides a summary biography and a complete bibliography of all of Judy Blume's works.
Judy Blume's Home Base (http://www.judyblume.com) - This is the official site for Judy Blume's fans. She has information about herself as well as activities available here.
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