I had my Judy Blume moment in fifth grade. Jennifer Talbot was giving her oral book report on Are You There God, It's Me Margaret, and part of her presentation involved a postcard that one character, Gretchen, had sent to the narrator, Margaret. The postcard contained only three words: "I GOT IT!" I was confused. What had Gretchen been searching for that had made her so excited to have found? When it was time for us to ask questions, I raised my hand. Jennifer Talbot called on another classmate, a gawky, big-headed kid whose parents were from Denmark. "What does the postcard mean?" he asked. As I started to nod my head in curious agreement, the rest of the class started to laugh at the poor nerd. "I'll tell you later," Jennifer Talbot promised in all of her worldly wisdom. I sheepishly lowered my hand. Later on, when I read the book for myself, I realized that Gretchen had been talking about getting her period. My moment in fifth grade was quintessentially Judy Blume, encapsulating all the awkward naiveté and angst of negotiating pre- and post-pubescence. What American girl does not fondly remember, "We must, we must, we must increase our bust!" as an early cultural and social touchstone? As the brains behind 23 books, including Blubber; Superfudge; Then Again, Maybe I Won't; Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing; and Tiger Eyes, Judy Blume has guided both boys and girls through the tumultuous waters of childhood and early adolescence. With her army of true-to-life characters, she let us all know that we weren't braving those waters alone.
Thu., June 12, 7 p.m., 2008