Spotlight on Judy Blume and Double Fudge
An author study is an excellent way to investigate and celebrate the work of a writer.
One of the best ways to "meet an author" is through his or her books. As students read the books or listen to them on tape, encourage them to note the different genres that an author works in and to examine the copyright dates as a way of delineating the path of an author's career. To launch an author study, you might:
- Display a selection of an author's work.
- List interesting facts about an author on a poster pad.
- Assign one of the author's books as independent or group reading, or read one book aloud to the class.
- Ask students to read one or more other books by the author so they can compare themes, settings, characters, plots, and styles.
- Follow up with discussions and activities to promote comprehension and appreciation of the author's work.
- You might assign groups of students to monitor different elements of Judy Blume's work. For example, one group might keep descriptive lists of her characters. Others might compile information about the pets in her books. Still others might collect samples of words or phrases that she often uses. These lists are a good way to make comparisons among Blume's different books and also with other authors.
Books by Judy Blume
Here are some titles by Judy Blume that you might make available to your students. Because her books are written for different levels, all your readers should be able to find a book appropriate to their ability. For example, The One in the Middle Is the Green Kangaroo is easier than Double Fudge.
Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great
Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
The One in the Middle Is the Green Kangaroo
Than Again, Maybe I Won't
It's Not the End of the World
The Pain and the Great One
Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret
Link the Author to the Literature
Double Fudge is Judy Blume's fifth book involving Fudge, aka Farley Drexel Hatcher. Says Blume, "I never expected to write another Fudge book." She goes on, "I have a really good reason—my grandson, Elliot. He's 10 years old, and guess which character of mine is his favorite? He's been asking for another book about Fudge for a couple of years now. I told him, 'When and if I ever get another idea.'I feel really lucky that just when I least expected it, an idea came to me."
The Fudge Factor
Before introducing Double Fudge to students, invite them to share what they already know about Fudge from other Judy Blume books. The books relating to Fudge include: Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Superfudge, and Fudge-a-Mania. Create a Fudge web on the chalkboard to record students' comments and recollections. Then ask students to predict what Fudge might do in Blume's new book, Double Fudge. Suggest that students write down their predictions and expectations so they can compare them with the actual story.
After students have read Double Fudge, ask them to think about what the author might be like. Use questions such as these and encourage students to support their responses with evidence in the text.
- Do you think Judy Blume has a good sense of humor? Explain.
- Where do you think the author gets her ideas? What kinds of experiences do you think she has had with young children and family life?
- What do you think it would be like to grow up in Judy Blume's family?
Notebooks for Readers and Writers
Like many writers, Judy Blume keeps a "trusty notebook." Read aloud this quote from Blume to inspire students to start their own notebooks. "Before I begin to write, I fill a notebook, jotting down everything that pops into my head about my characters and story Ã— bits of dialogue, ideas for scenes, background information, descriptions of people and places, details and more details." Guide students to record in a journal their responses to Double Fudge and their own thinking about writing with these suggestions:
- Review Judy Blume's book titles. What does each title suggest about the book? How are her titles different from those of other authors?
- Blume says, "If you don't care about your characters, your readers won't either." Describe a Judy Blume character. What words does the author use to paint this picture? What actions of the character help the reader understand him or her?
- Analyze how Blume's characters interact with one another. For example, they could compare Peter's relationship to Fudge with their own relationship to a brother or sister.
- What questions do the books raise that students would like to ask the author?
Play the Fudge Game
Read this quotation from Judy Blume to the class. "When Elliot [her grandson] was younger, we used to play The Fudge Game, a game he invented, where I had to be Fudge and he got to be Peter." Have students pair up and take turns playing The Fudge Game in front of the class. Encourage students to study the two characters beforehand and then come up with their own incident involving the two characters.
Building the Connections
Help students summarize and review what they have learned about Judy Blume with one of these activities:
- Hold a Colorful Character party, where each student dresses as his or her favorite Judy Blume character. As an alternative, you might have students pick a character name from a hat so that a variety of characters are represented. Invite each partygoer to introduce his or her character to the class.
- Create a class mural based on one or more of Judy Blume's books.