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text 2017-05-27 07:08
My Personal Literary Canon: Begin at the beginning
Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret - Judy Blume
Then Again, Maybe I Won't - Judy Blume
Deenie - Judy Blume
Tiger Eyes - Judy Blume
Forever... - Judy Blume
The Luckiest Girl - Beverly Cleary
Up in Seth's Room - Norma Fox Mazer

I'm going to start with the books that on the surface might strike some as the most trivial, but realistically, because of the age I was when I read them, would have had the biggest impact.


Hands down, the undisputed winner for most influential YA writer has to be Judy Blume.  In my previous post I mentioned I didn't come from an open family.  When speaking about my adolescence, I cannot put too fine a point on this:  my entire sex education consisted of a short movie and forgettable lecture in 5th grade that left me horrified, and the works of Judy Blume.  


But I got so much more out of her books too.  Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret might have enlightened me on the more embarrassing aspects of puberty, but I also learned the importance of making up your own mind about your beliefs, and that there was no right answer for everyone.  I also noted the dangers of jumping to conclusions about people you don't know; that their reality is not mine.  


Then Again, Maybe I Won't taught me that while change was rarely welcomed, sometimes good and unexpected things came out of it.  Deenie was my personal adolescent nightmare writ large; scoliosis terrified me; after reading Deenie it still terrified me, but I could see how someone might survive it and own it.  Tiger Eyes taught me we all carry guilt, even for the things we aren't guilty of and can't control, and while that may be the nature of things, we should never stop trying to let it go.


Then, of course, there's Forever...  I doubt I have to list all that I learned from this book, but the most lasting lesson was this: I'm allowed to choose for myself.  I get to make my decisions on my own terms and I'm allowed to change my mind.


This, in my opinion, was Judy Blume's strength.  She never preached to her readers, either directly or indirectly.  She created characters that were confronted by the things her readers confronted, and then gave her characters the rational capacity to find the answers on their own. Adults don't play Yoda in her books; the kids reach their own conclusions, and as a result they serve as examples to their readers.


There are other teen authors from back in the day that come to mind:  Beverly Cleary, of course, although not for her much more famous Romana series, but for The Luckiest Girl.  At 16, Shelley leaves her family to spend a year in California with a family she barely knows.  While quite a bit of the book is dated now and even a little twee, what stuck with me all these years was her bravery in getting on that plane by herself, her openness to experience new things, and her unapologetic, unabashed delight in the world around her. I admired her for that - I wanted to be like that too, and I am, mostly. I'll forever be grateful to Beverly Cleary for Shelley.


Finally, there's Up in Seth's Room by Norma Fox Mazer.  Like Forever this deals with the weighty issues of first love and how far do you go?  This book fascinated me because it straddled two myths:  If you defy your parents you're automatically wrong, and if you're dating someone older, you're going to be unable to say no.  Finn is 15 and falls for a 19 year old.  She defies her parents after she's forbidden to see him, but she calls the shots with Seth.  She decides what she is and isn't comfortable doing and she sticks to her guns.  As a stubborn teen, Finn spoke to me in ways nobody else ever did.


I give my mom (deservedly) most of the credit for the strong-willed, independent woman I am today, but it's just as accurate to say these women deserve to share the credit with her; they went where she was unwilling or unable to go, and I doubt she could find much fault with their lessons.


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review 2017-01-13 10:42
Then Again, Maybe I Won't
Then Again, Maybe I Won't - Judy Blume

...maybe that's the trouble.  Maybe kids don't always want you to give them everything."


What can I say?  I've been in the mood for Judy Blume and revisiting my childhood.  


This book is more clearly dated, especially from a class-distinction POV; nowadays even 'posh' people don't look twice at owning a truck.  But I doubt very much that anything important has changed: Judy Blume nails what it means to be a confused teen with more questions than answers and no good place to ask them, and she so clearly illustrates that kids don't care about money; at least not until their parents have taught them to.  


Then Again, Maybe I Won't is Blume's only YA book told from the POV of a boy and in typical Blume style she doesn't pull any punches.  Tony is a boy going through puberty with all potential for embarrassment that comes with it.  As a teen myself, I read it because it was scandalous, of course, but after reading it I also remember thinking "huh - girls aren't the only ones that got screwed".  It was a nicely equalising thought.


I'm guessing recent editions of this book have been updated to remove most of the anachronisms.  If so, I'd recommend it to anybody's teen - but only because I'd probably have no chance of getting them to read the "old fashioned" original.

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text 2016-06-24 20:20
I won a what?
I Won a What? - Audrey Vernick,Robert Neubecker

by Audrey Vernick

illustrated by Robert Neubecker

Alfred A. Knopf


Mom and dad won't let him have a fluffy, shaggy or feathery pet, but they promised the boy he could keep anything him wins at the goldfish booth. That's why the boy is so excited when he finally holed the ball. He won the goldfish! But actually, he didn't win the goldfish, he won Nuncio, the whale. Now the boy has the hard job of persuade his parents about the advantages of having a whale.


Funny story with lovely illustrations. Great for a reading aloud time, to make voices and exaggerate expressions.


You might want to read another story about how to handle a whale: The whale in my swimming pool

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text 2015-12-18 18:00
Early Christmas present

I won a 200 kr (around 23$) gift card at Adlibris today (online bookstore) thanks for a pic on Instagram where they asked for the best Christmas gift tips:


The Ice twins by S.K. Tremayne!



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text 2015-07-21 17:48
I WON! (Thanks to you guys!)

Thanks to you guys, I won the Darkfuse Magazine Tiny Terror Tweet of the Week


Click on the image below or the link above for the announcement. While you're over there, scroll down and vote on the latest tweets. There are some good ones this week. (I think Adrian's is pretty creepy).


Thanks again to all you awesome, lovely, wonderful voting-type peoples. 


*hugs and high fives*




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