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Goodbye Ramona, Hello Margaret

This week, the ChickieNob and I finished the final Ramona Quimby book.  I got choked up reading the final pages of Ramona’s World, which came out long after I had finished with the Ramona books.  It felt a little bit like the cat ears Ramona puts on her Qs, a little extra since the series originally ended for me with Ramona Forever.

That morning, before we read the final two chapters of Ramona, we placed three books on the floor. (We originally had Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth by E.L. Konigsburg in the running too, but we decided to read that with our book club along with the From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler so we could do a author comparison.  So… er… if your kid is in my book club… that’s probably what we’re reading this year… surprise!)

It was time to read Judy Blume.

Sure, we had read Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing with the Wolvog and Super Fudge.  But when I say Judy Blume, I’m talking… Judy Blume.  Like read-with-your-mother Judy Blume.

She chose to start with Are You There G-d, It’s Me Margaret.  The Wolvog was getting together with a friend, so we swung by the organic market and bought Vietnamese summer rolls and popcorn.  I told the cashier that we were on our way to read our first Judy Blume.  She leaned over the counter and peered down at the ChickieNob, giving her that “you’re a woman now and will one day need to buy tampons because of it” smile as she invited her into the sorority.  “Aaah, starting with Margaret.  A good choice, a good choice.”

We then settled ourselves at Starbucks.  As the barista made our drinks, I told her that we were right on the cusp of reading Judy Blume.  As in, it was going to happen in her store and it was going to happen in the next ten minutes.  “Oh my G-d!” she shrieked, adding extra whipped cream to the ChickieNob’s chocolate frappuccino.  “Enjoy it, honey.  Those books will teach you everything.”

And then we said goodbye to Ramona after those last two chapters, kissed the cover of that book, and slipped it back into my bag.  “We’ll visit you,” the ChickieNob promised, her eyes already focused on Margaret.

You know how people talk about losing themselves in a good book?  We lost ourselves in that book.  Nine chapters later, we emerged, the ChickieNob finally understanding the chant, “I must I must I must increase my bust.”  (Plus, she got a whole run down of how bra sizing works as well as my first bra story).  We talked about periods and religion and friendships and girl drama and crushes and peer pressure.  We ate an entire bag of popcorn.  Like one of those bags that is meant to last you a few days?  We ate it in one sitting while we read.  Or, more accurately, we tried to eat it, except the ChickieNob was so engrossed in the story that she kept missing her mouth.  So we had to pause to clean up the floor.

I’ll read Then Again, Maybe I Won’t with the Wolvog one day, and Iggie’s House with both of them.  But right now, it’s just me and the girlie, talking about boobs and life.

The ChickieNob is very lucky to be growing up with a lot of Aunties, some actual family and others fictive kin.  Some have daughters, but most of them don’t.  All are women and are willing to have frank conversations with her, answering any questions that pop up.  I like that there is a sorority of women who step in and out of her life, influencing it, cheering her on.  I think it goes a long way to mold the woman I want her to become; the sort who will turn around and do the same for the next generation.

So thank you, to all the women who help shape the ChickieNob (including all of you) and to Judy Blume who kicks off a good conversation.

And your favourite Judy Blume book is…?

(And feel free to suggest a non-Judy Blume book you think the ChickieNob must read in order to understand Life… with a capital L.)


1 April { 08.14.13 at 7:51 am }

I always loved Margaret. She was my favorite and I read her at least 5 different times the year I started my period. I always felt a connection to her and just wanted to be one of her friends and sit and talk with them.

2 K { 08.14.13 at 8:31 am }

I feel like there is a whole aspect of growing up that i might have missed. . . Who is Judy Blume?? 🙁

3 a { 08.14.13 at 8:32 am }

I think Blubber stuck with me the most, but parts of all the books still flash into my mind every now and again. I loved Judy Blume, and when my girl is old enough, I look forward to reading them again.

In a few years, I suggest Madeline L’Engle – A Wrinkle In Time, A Swiftly Tilting Planet – although they’re fantasy, I think they give an interesting perspective on family and connectedness.

4 JB { 08.14.13 at 8:49 am }

I have so many wonderful childhood book memories. I still put ears on my Qs because of Ramona. I don’t have a favorite Judy Blume, but I still go back to Anne of Green Gables, now almost 20 years after I read them the first time. I read Blume’s Summer Sisters a few years ago and loved that too 🙂

5 Ellen K. { 08.14.13 at 8:53 am }

I think I went from The One in the Middle Is the Green Kangaroo to Margaret. I remember I was in second or third grade and picked it up at a book fair at school. The teacher sent home a note to prepare my mom, and that night my mom and I had our first sex ed talk. I re-read it earlier this summer, along with “Deenie” and “Tiger Eyes.”

I just read the first long chapter book to my almost-5-year-old girls: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. They loved it. It was a good way to talk about some of their own behavior issues of late. (Not a fan of summer vacation.) I thought about reading Pippi Longstocking next but realized that there aren’t enough pictures and she lies compulsively. : P

6 loribeth { 08.14.13 at 9:05 am }

I was a bit old for Judy Blume; most of her books didn’t really start becoming popular until I was into high school & beyond. (Likewise Ramona — although I adored Henry Huggins by the same author when I was in grade school!)

But I certainly did read “Forever.” 😉 And later, in university, “Wifey.” Scandalous!! 😉

7 KeAnne { 08.14.13 at 9:10 am }

I love Margaret, and it’s one I’ve read over and over and over. I think it might be my favorite Judy Blume book, but I’ll need to check. I second JB’s recommendation of Anne of Green Gables. Also, Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield, The Secret Garden, the All of a Kind family series, which gives a great look at life for a Jewish family in NYC in the early 20th century. And I can’t remember, but has she read The Little House series? Oh, and Little Women!!

8 Gail { 08.14.13 at 9:26 am }

The last Judy Blume book I read was “Forever” and it is my favorite, but I would definitely wait another 5 years before letting her read it (and then I’d let her read it alone, not out loud).
As for other books to teach her about Life, I would suggest “Charlotte’s Web” and “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”. I’d wait for the other Narnia books until a little later, but the first one should be age-appropriate.

9 Briar { 08.14.13 at 9:36 am }

You do realize that your daughter should also read “Then Again,” right? That one solved many mysteries for me.
I read Margaret 21 times in a row when I was 7. Alone, though. This sounds amazing.

10 jodifur { 08.14.13 at 9:41 am }

We just started Tales of a 4th grade nothing with Michael! And Freckle Juice!

11 Davidah { 08.14.13 at 9:45 am }

Love your posts. My daughter is nine (same age as yours I think) and we’re still reading Henry and Mudge. (she has delays). Margaret seems a long way off. I loved The Great Brain at that age.

12 Aislinn { 08.14.13 at 12:25 pm }

You’re the mom I hope to be one day. At the start of this infertility journey, I realized how little I know about my body and how little my mom and I talked about it while I was growing up. I don’t blame my mom in any way, she was just taught to not talk about it, so that’s what she passed down to me. I, however, hope to teach my girl (if I have one…) that her body is a remarkable thing that should be respected. I love books like Margaret that talk about those topics, but also allow for conversations to start between parent and child. Kudos to you for one, reading with your child, and two, being a source of strength for them in a way they know they can come to you, or any of the women that surround then, with questions.

13 kirida { 08.14.13 at 2:19 pm }

Forever was my favorite, just because it seemed so racy, so adult and that’s what I wanted to read when I was that age. I did read all the Ramona books because we have the same name, even though I couldn’t relate to the zanniness, I was a huge Beezus fan.

14 JustHeather { 08.14.13 at 3:45 pm }

Two books that I have read a couple of times and that still come to mind off an on are “Lisa, bright and dark” (16yo girl thinks she’s going crazy) and “Light a single candle” (14yo girl loses her sight). They might not be appropriate for another couple of years yet, as the characters are mid-teens, but the books really left an impression on me.

I can only recall reading Summer Sisters by Judy Bloom (a year or so ago), but I am sure I have read/heard at least a couple others. In any case, I have some on my shelves and do need to read them.

15 Tigger { 08.14.13 at 5:04 pm }

We must, we must, we must increase our bust! I swear, that book will never leave me. Never. And it is, as you saw, a bonding point with other females who’ve read it. It’s just that one common denominator.

I’ve read a lot of her stuff but I don’t remember all of them. I have Summer Sisters in my library currently, just waiting to be re-read.

16 Amy { 08.14.13 at 8:46 pm }

I loved Margaret…oh, who am I kidding, I loved all of judy blume’s work

17 Pepper { 08.14.13 at 9:30 pm }

I love these posts. I cannot wait for moments like this with my daughter. Sharing books, especially some of my childhood favorites, is already one of my most favorite parenting experiences. I can’t wait to get to Judy Blume. (Oh, Ramona, how I love you.) Your relationship with your daughter makes me so happy to read. This is what I want in so many ways and I hope it is what I am building. Thank you for sharing your twosome-ness with us.

18 Stacey { 08.14.13 at 10:47 pm }

OMG, I loved all those books you mentioned. I came across most of them recently, while cleaning out my mom’s library to get her ready to move (and I absconded with them, to save for my kids). When I was nine, I LOVED “My Side of the Mountain” by Jean George. It’s sort of a coming-of-age adventure story about running away and being self-sufficient.

19 Katherine A { 08.15.13 at 6:32 am }

My mother’s choice of the book she really, really wanted to read with me was a bit esoteric: “The Giver” by Lois Lowry. She felt that it dealt with so much of adolescence – being different from your peers, vocation, what it meant to have choices (or not to have choices), the consequences of choosing to forget or live without knowing pain, and courage. I remember being so shocked and horrified when I found out what being “released” meant. And as an older adolescent/adult woman, I began to understand the sadness of not having sexual feelings towards one’s spouse or partner. Or not seeing color. Or all being the same.

I also remember clearly, though, how lovingly my mother read that book to me. The time we spent together as she used the book to help me understand some of those choices and that being an adult meant feeling pain/uncomfortable/terribly sad at times – but that there was also a profound beauty in having feelings and experiencing emotions and memories.

20 Elizabeth { 08.15.13 at 9:32 am }

It completely boggles my mind to imagine you reading Margaret with your daughter. I don’t think my mom ever had any idea what I was reading or how I was getting my information about the transition to womanhood. Being a nerdy girl, it was mostly from the World Book Encyclopedia, plus a “Now We Are Twelve” book I came across at a friend’s house. And, of course, Judy Blume. Love her.

21 Justine { 08.15.13 at 9:09 pm }

I love it! And I remember reading Are You There God … wresting it away from my mother, who was trying to “clear” it before she decided I was old enough. Oh, I was old enough all right. And I STILL remember that chant. 🙂

Judy Blume, thank you for taking my hand and gently introducing me to womanhood.

22 Amanda { 08.15.13 at 9:11 pm }

Summer Sisters is my favorite Judy Blume book, but kid-wise it’s the Fudge series. Have you checked out the My Teacher is an Alien series? Those are the best, especially My Teacher Flunked the Planet.

23 Tiara { 08.16.13 at 9:35 am }

I loved all Judy Blume…but Margaret changed my life! I too read Summer Sisters a few years back & loved it so much too! It was like being reunited with a long lost friend. My best friend had actually lent me the book & I have, to this day, refused to give it back.

I have been imagining reading with my child since before she was even conceived. I’ve been thinking of The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe…I purposefully have never read Harry Potter in anticipation of discovering it together…but you have now reminded me that I will get to share Judy Blume with my daughter! Not much could make me more excited & joyful!

24 magpie { 08.16.13 at 11:03 am }

Hmm. I think I need to read that to my kid. Like TONIGHT. 🙂

25 Battynurse { 08.16.13 at 11:40 am }

Oh how I loved Judy Blume. It’s been so many years though I can’t remember what the books were about for the most part but I do remember reading Margaret. I also remembered loving the book so much that I wanted to share it with my cousin who was about a year and a half younger than me and I think I was about 12, and so on a weekend at grandmas I started reading it to her. The next morning while getting ready to go swimming I started my period for the first time ever. My cousin then refused to let me read her any more of the book as she was convinced that reading it was what caused me to start having my period.

26 Laurel (Dawn Storey) { 08.17.13 at 12:12 pm }

This post completely choked me up. You paint a beautiful picture of the two of you reading and eating popcorn in Starbucks. Lovely.

27 Ren { 08.23.13 at 2:36 pm }

I would definitely recommend “Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself”, about a 10 year old Jewish girl who moves to Florida at the end of WWII (1947). Also “Just as Long as We’re Together”.

I can remember reading and re-reading my Judy Blume books. Especially “Blubber”, “Iggie’s House”, “Deenie”, and “It’s Not the End of the World.”

Loved those books.

28 luna { 08.24.13 at 2:40 am }

first I love this SO hard!
oh I read them all but honestly it’s been SO long and I can’t wait to read them again with my girls. loved them all at different ages, for sure. forever taught me what an orgasm was, though margaret has to be my fave.

btw, did y’all know judy blume is on twitter? @judyblume

29 Another Dreamer { 08.25.13 at 2:53 pm }

This is a really great post. I love the level of involvement you have with your kids. I never had that growing up, but I hope to give that to my kids.

Now for the confession: I’ve never read any Judy Blume books. I’ve heard of the books you mentioned, I’ve heard of Judy Blume, but I’ve never read them. They didn’t seem like my type of books, I was all fantasy fiction (time travel, unicorns, magic, etc…) or non-fiction (how to care for your pet, science, history, school books, books for research, etc…)

30 Sara { 08.26.13 at 8:52 pm }

This post and list of reading materials is amazing. I’m on a wonderful stroll down memory lane now, and am so looking forward to reading these books with my daughter. I especially like the fact that you involved the whole community in your reading project, including the barista. That must have made her day!

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