Blubber is a good name for her, the note from Wendy says about Linda. Jill crumples it up and leaves it on the corner of her desk. She doesn't want to think about Linda or her dumb report on the whale just now. Jill wants to think about Halloween.
But Robby grabs the note, and before Linda stops talking it has gone halfway around the room.
That's where it all starts. There's something about Linda that makes a lot of kids in her fifth-grade class want to see how far they can go -- but nobody, least of all Jill, expects the fun to end where it does.
Judy Blume spent her childhood in Elizabeth, New Jersey, making up stories inside her head. She has spent her adult years in many places doing the same thing, only now she writes her stories down on paper. Adults as well as children will recognize such Blume titles as: Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret; Blubber; Just as Long as We're Together; and the five book series about the irrepressible Fudge. She has also written three novels for adults, Summer Sisters; Smart Women; and Wifey, all of them New York Times bestsellers. More than 80 million copies of her books have been sold, and her work has been translated into thirty-one languages. She receives thousands of letters a year from readers of all ages who share their feelings and concerns with her. Judy received a B.S. in education from New York University in 1961, which named her a Distinguished Alumna in 1996, the same year the American Library Association honored her with the Margaret A. Edwards Award for Lifetime Achievement. Other recognitions include the Library of Congress Living Legends Award and the 2004 National Book Foundation's Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. She is the founder and trustee of The Kids Fund, a charitable and educational foundation. She serves on the boards of the Author's Guild; the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators; the Key West Literary Seminar; and the National Coalition Against Censorship. Judy is a longtime advocate of intellectual freedom. Finding herself at the center of an organized book banning campaign in the 1980's she began to reach out to other writers, as well as teachers and librarians, who were under fire. Since then, she has worked tirelessly with the National Coalition Against Censorship to protect the freedom to read. She is the editor of Places I Never Meant To Be, Original Stories by Censored Writers. Judy has completed a series of four chapter books -- The Pain & the Great One -- illustrated by New Yorker cartoonist James Stevenson. She has co-written and produced a film adaptation of her book Tiger Eyes, and is currently writing a new novel. Judy and her husband George Cooper live on islands up and down the east coast. They have three grown children and one grandchild.
Well, if you think that nothing has improved in American classrooms since 1974. . . may I submit this book as evidence?
Holy humpback whale, this middle grades novel, Blubber, is like a relic from a time capsule, and my 11-year-old accused me (several times) of making up parts of it as I read it to her aloud this week. (Does she really think I'm that hard up for entertainment??)
I assured her that this book was based on a real time period, and I'm an expert in knowing that this shit is real because I lived through the '70s and the '80s. I was once knocked unconscious, in 1979, in my friend's garage, and when her mother discovered me, lying UNCONSCIOUS on the cement floor, she kicked me in the hip and told me to “get up off the floor and go play!” You can't make this stuff up.
Actually, I take that back. You can make this stuff up, because this book is the fictionalized version of what the author's daughter experienced in the fifth grade. Judy Blume describes in the afterword that she wrote this book after her very shy daughter experienced a “queen bee” bully in their classroom, a girl who essentially used all of her physical beauty, power and charm to destroy the life of another girl in the class. Ms. Blume realized that nothing much existed on this topic at the time, and Blubber was born.
The “queen bee” bully in this book is named Wendy, and she is so damned awful to Linda “Blubber” Fischer, she basically causes this girl to have IBS. After one of Wendy's many subversive bullying sessions on Linda, my own daughter stood up and shook her fists at me and shouted, “THIS GIRL'S THE DEVIL, MOM! WHERE ARE ALL THE TEACHERS??”
Great question. The lunch room scenes alone are like the Lord of the Flies for thirty minutes of every day.
My personal favorite is when the protagonist, Jill, turns to her mother for help, after a “friend” has called her best friend a chink and the mother's advice (after she blows out cigarette smoke onto her daughter) is to “laugh it off.”
After I was placed in the not enviable situation of having to explain to my Chinese daughter what the term chink meant, she looked like the famous Chinese brother who swallowed the sea, her cheeks were so filled with hot air from her rage.
Thank goodness we prevailed to the end, so we could discover a clever twist and a great solution to the queen bee problem.
This book is not for all middle grades kids. The bullying is intense and some mild profanity is used here as well (damn, hell, bitch).
I had some sweaty moments here myself, wondering if we had made a good choice in this read-aloud, but the ending saved the day.
Plus, we worker bees sometimes need friendly reminders that a queen bee should never be allowed to get too big for the hive.
While reading this I didn't think it would be something I would recommend for today's students. It's upsetting at times, but ultimately impactful in its depiction of the many facets of bullying. Judy Blume shows outright and subtle bullying, what it's like to be the bully and the one being bullied, and the fickleness of the bully and the reason for the bullying.
While the story is true to the time period and to the execution of the cruel treatment, I still cringed at just how mean everyone was. Even the teachers were mean bullies with superiority complexes; hair pulling and telling students they aren't thinking correctly seems counterintuitive to the learning process.
The ending seemed abrupt, but actually it's totally appropriate as bullying starts and stops on a whim. Today's object of torment may be the tormentor themselves tomorrow.
Recommended to all as a lesson to always abide by the golden rule.
I was at the library with my children yesterday when I noticed the Judy Blume books. I loved Judy Bloom when I was younger. So I thought it would be interesting to reread some of them again. Blubber is the one I read last night. I remember when I read it the first time that I really related to the main character, Jill. It is about a 5th grade class who begins to pick on Linda who is overweight. This is day in and out teasing-harassing. Then one day Jill gets on the wrong side of one of the main instigators and overnight she becomes the target. By using her wit she is able to reverse the trend and things go back to normal. I related to Jill because I remember thinking, "I may not be the most popular, but at least I am not unpopular." I felt bad for Linda but was relieved I wasn't her.
As an adult reading this I am appalled. There is no redeeming quality. Some of the teasing that went on would qualify for expulsion and sexual harassment. It was very painful to read as a mother. Jill does not stand up for Linda. She never empathizes with her. When she begins to get tease she does not recognize how much her teasing hurt Linda. The only lesson she learned was not to do what Linda did and just sit there. In fact when given the chance to eat lunch with the girls in her class she chooses a "safe" choice and Linda once again is alone.
The one way this book would be worth reading is if it was used to open up a dialogue to explore teasing-bullying and standing up for others. It almost seems like it opened up wounds but never healed.
The genius of this book is not that it doesn't impart any moral, it does, but it does so subtly, without condescension. There's no comeuppance for the ringleading bully, no adult interference to save the tormented. Hell, the girl who is picked on isn't all that sympathetic. It's a dark little book, and the darkness works beautifully.
My signed copy of Blubber is one of my most prized possessions. This is an honest and sometimes painful to read portrayal of bullying. It does not wrap up neatly, as few real-life bullying situations do, but it does have some important lessons. After reading this book, it is comforting to find Judy Blume's personal note about why she wrote it: "I wrote Blubber because bullying is often kept a secret by the kids who see it happening, and even by the person who's being bullied. Being bullied feels so humiliating, it's such a terrible and frightening experience, that kids are often afraid to tell anyone, even their parents...I hope this story will help kids, parents and teachers to start working and talking together. No more secrets. If it happens to you, talk to the people you trust most. It's too hard to worry alone."
I finished this book days ago and here I sit, still not entirely sure how to review this. I didn't like the book...much. I hated Jill. I never found anything to like about her at all. She went along with the crowd and even when the tables were turned, she showed no compassion at all, with the attitude of "She shouldn't let other people get to her."
The bullying was traumatic to read about. I'd been bullied as a child in the 70s and this brought back a lot of bad memories. Things happened here that were appalling, and yet the adults around had no interest and tended to turn a blind eye to the entire situation.
I didn't like the swearing in the book, wondering why the author felt it was necessary to include the words for no good reason at all it seemed, other than to maybe appeal to the readers - to be more on their level? I don't know.
Most of all I hated the conclusion. The bullying of Jill never fully manifested. There was no emotional impact, there was no CHANGE in her as a character. Everyone was about equally unpleasant and honestly, I never cared a whole lot about Linda as Blubber - she was the classic victim. I so wanted to see a change for her and it wasn't here.
Why is this a classic when there are better books on bullying? Why does this book have to hit so hard for those of us who have been bullied, and then walk away with no answers, no redemption other than maybe it's our own fault we were bullied in the first place?
No. I didn't like this book. I wish I could say something more positive, but I can't. Not this time.
If you somehow missed this one as a kid and want to read about childhood bullying as it was written about decades ago, before bullying even became a term, read this book.
It is painful. And I have done rereads as an adult. If anything, it's MORE poignant.
Jill Brenner is one of the cool kids at school. Linda is not.
Linda is mercilessly bullied. Known as "Blubber" the children have all but destroyed her, something that Jill never questions or really appears to think about that much.
Jill loves her friends and her family deeply. But she doesn’t really stopped to think about the damage she is doing to Linda. And she never stops to think that anything like that could happen to her either. She’s cool, she’s in, and her schoolmates love her even if they don’t love Linda.
I cannot really say much more. This book might be triggering to those who do not like to read about such issues.
The bullying of Linda is relentless. The pain of not being accepted at school, of being teased and made to feel like less than a human being is so captured here it’s amazing. And the book is this relevant today as it was all those years ago.
There is fat shaming, body-shaming, attacks toward children by other children but... It’s an important book.
It made an imprint on my life. I think, should you choose to read it, it might just do the same for you.
What is a 46 year old man doing reading literature directed for 12-year-old girls? I could say that my girlfriend made me read it, but it was only a recommendation and I went along willingly. I am glad I did so.
In Blubber a middle school Nazi and her cadre of sheep persecute a marginally overweight girl (This book was written at a time prior to all children being fat. I imagine now they would pick on the slender child). This book confirms all my fears about children and makes me grateful that I have dodged the procreation bullet. Apparently children are manipulated by a mob mentality. The decent children are easily swayed by the strong and buckle under to the slightest whiff of peer pressure. This often leads to cruel and callus behavior.
Blubber has been critically acclaimed as an accurate representation of a teen girl’s world. Since reading this dystopian horror story I cross the street to avoid contact with this societal menace -- it can smell weakness. Take heed. If you see this malevolent entity in your neighborhood, move. If it follows you, run. If it catches you, bite your cyanide capsule.
I’m not sure what the first Judy Blume book I read was—it may have been Freckle Juice—but my love for her definitely ignited when our teacher read us Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing when I was in the fourth grade class of St. Mary’s. I read a lot, but Judy Blume was the first author I really loved and that love demanded I read all of her books available at the time (including Wifey, which I...regret.) I had a boxed set of her books which included Nothing, my beloved Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, and this book.
I liked Blubber and read it enough for it to start to fall apart (as opposed to Margaret which did completely fall apart, because sometimes I slept with it like a stuffed animal.) This one didn’t resonate the same way with me, and it’s been decades since I’ve read it.
And boy, was this hard to read as an adult.
This story is about bullying, and Blume explains in the epilogue that it was inspired by bullying her daughter witnessed at school (it was first published in 1974.) Jill Brenner is basically a good kid, other than pranking a mean neighbor on Halloween, but when her fifth grade class—cheered on by a nasty ringleader—decides to pick on a classmate that’s a bit of a doormat, she can’t help but join in. And when Linda Fischer does a class report on whales, the nickname “Blubber” sticks. But it gets much worse than name-calling.
And while this story had its funny, charming moments (because this is Judy Blume), it was very difficult to read about how this gang of otherwise mostly ordinary children tortured another child—from keep-away on the school bus, which many of us are undoubtedly familiar with, to more serious offenses like force-feeding her and making her vomit, locking her in a closet, and pulling her skirt up to show everyone her panties.
It’s Lord of the Flies with adults and without pigs. OR, it’s that South Park episode where the kids connive to have all the adults arrested and just one week later they’ve gone full-on Children of the Corn.
I don’t know where I’m going with this. Bullying is bad and children are terrifying and humanity can be awful and I used to watch a lot of South Park. Anyway, I think this is still a valuable read for kids.
While I most certainly have NEVER found Blubber all that enjoyable as a personal reading experience (and really, as someone who did experience much nasty bullying at school, more than a trifle too close to home so to speak to be in any way comforting, cheering or uplifting) I have indeed always considered (both then and now) that Judy Blume has most definitely and painfully realistically captured not only bullying, but also that the tormenters can and do sometimes become the tormented (such as narrator Jill Brenner, who only and still rather mildly at best realises that her nasty attitude towards classmate Linda Fischer might be wrong when she herself somehow crosses arch class bully Wendy and finds the situation reversed, finds herself being viciously targeted by Wendy and her acolytes).
But while when I read Blubber as a teenager, Jill was someone I found rather annoying, most of my anger was indeed at that time squarely directed towards Wendy and her main sidekick Caroline, at the arch nasties, whom everyone seems to follow with regard to how poor Linda Fischer is constantly being ostracised and sometimes even viciously attacked. However, upon rereading Blubber last night (in order to finally post a review) and as an older adult, I have to admit and proclaim that I actually do now very much consider Jill Brenner in every way quite as massively unlikable as Wendy and Caroline (as for one, Jill only changes her attitude and her bullying behaviour and actions towards Linda when she herself is targeted by Wendy et al, understandable perhaps, but really not all that laudable, and for two, while Wendy might in fact be the instigator and the ringleader with regard to in-class bullying and nastiness, it is the sad and ugly truth of the matter that Jill as well as the rest of the class like good little goose stepping soldiers readily fall into line and both condone, carry out and seemingly even much enjoy tormenting and terrorising the unfortunate Linda, which sure does enable Wendy and keeps her status as arch nasty intact, powerful and flourishing).
And also, and very much furthermore, what about Jill Brenner's so-called teacher, Mrs. Minish? Throughout Blubber she is narrationally and textually described as being at best completely oblivious and clueless, doing NOTHING AT ALL with regard to either stopping or at least somewhat mitigating the horrendous bullying and abuse Linda Fischer constantly must endure, and while I certainly do applaud Judy Blume for tackling the real and present issues and problems stemming from such teacher apathy, it is certainly not all that much of a solace to read about an instructor like Mrs. Minish, to realise that Linda has NO ONE at all to support or stand up for her, as obviously, even her teacher really could care less (realistic perhaps, but oh so very much sad and frustrating). Three stars for Blubber, as while I do think that Judy Blume has penned an important novel, with painful but nevertheless necessary messages, I also cannot really ever consider Blubber a favourite novel or one that I would consider turning to for comfort and/or ease, as the subject matter is just a bit too personally close for me and well, I also simply do not believe that Jill Brenner really has all that much learned a lesson by the end of Blubber (sure, she might now consider twice before bullying someone, but I still do not really think she has become all that increasingly empathetic, that she is still mostly coming from her own selfish discomfort at having now also experienced being harassed and tormented by Wendy, a good start perhaps, but merely that, and not in my opinion going nearly far enough as of yet).
I LOVE Judy Blume. She is my childhood for sure. When I think about how my love of reading started it was the Big 3 (for me)- Judy Blume, Beverly Cleary and Ann M Martin.
I remember reading this one in school but not much about it. It's basically about bullying a girl named Linda, whom everyone calls Blubber (because shes overweight and she does an oral report in class about whales).
I didn't realize what a JERK the main character was. Usually books about bullying are told through the eyes of the one being bullied; this one is told by one of the Mean Girls. I did like this perspective.
Overall I gave this book 3 stars because the ending totally fell flat for me. It just ends. I wish it came about full circle and had a deep discussion between the main character and the one being bullied, but I realize now that in real life that rarely happens. What did make me sad is how vicious these kids were, and this book takes place in the 1970s. If this book took place now, with Facebook/Twitter/ etc and all of the social media it would be so much worse. I shudder to think of what my girls will ensure once they're in school
4.5⭐ The world is full of books I've missed as a child. I liked this one. Not as funny as Fudge stories, but in a way you're not getting bored, even if it's for five grade teens. What I liked about this book, was the good massage for schoolchildren who are bullying and are getting bullyed. This is one of the books you read and tell yourself "I should read this to my children". Not because it's a good story, but because it's a good lesson!
I remembered loving this book when I was in 4th grade. This week, reading it as an adult, as a mom, with my 12 yr old... I have no idea why I loved it so much before. I've never wanted to punch a 5th grader in the face like I did while reading this book. Wendy, and her little minions, needed their butts whooped. I wanted Linda to start beating Wendy with her lunch pail, like Mary Ingalls and all the girls did to the bully on Little House on the Prairie. When we finished reading the book tonight my daughter took it and threw it across the room. It was that bad. I seriously wonder where Wendy is now. Probably in a women's high security prison. Freakin' psycho...
I did a long in-depth review of this - on my site - http://cliqueypizza.wordpress.com/ entitled Judy Blume's Blubber - Ballad of a Bully - as you can see by the title , I wasn't too impressed by the supposed lesson every reader out there, believes we've been taught. Jill is painted as an unremorseful heroine who blames just about everyone for her actions, most specifically - Wendy. While Linda a.k.a Blubber is a most pathetic victim - never is she given one ounce of dignity, everything associated with her is tinged with black humor making the attack not only justified but her responsibility. By the time the tables our 'turned' on Jill , she still doesn't get it. And neither does she get a fraction of what was dished out to Linda! Though Linda was made the fool in front of students and teachers - Mrs. Minish is now de-fanged, she doesn't care if Jill has brought in her homework and even assures her not to worry. If you're going to read this, be aware of it's flaws and - try out 100 Dresses by Eleanor Estes whose bully and victims are better fleshed out without becoming didactic.
Am I the only one who thinks Judy Blume books are overtly dramatic or is it just that I'm blissfully ignorant of the trends in friendship and schooling in the West that her books apparently represent?
This book was supposed to be middle-grade and enlightening for kids. It's about bullying and the popularity hierarchy in middle school that no one talks about. Linda Fisher is constantly bullied by Wendy, the smartest girl in class, and her friends. Jill Brenner, our narrator, is a part of the bullying squad, and is enjoying it. That is, until the tides turn and she becomes the butt of it all.
Frankly, the level of bullying in this book was almost to the point of harassment. I shudder to think of it happening in schools. The part I most hated was how Jill never learnt her lesson. There were so many things the author forgot to mention. Especially that bullying was bad. Jill and her friends got away with everything they did and never once acknowledged to have learnt that bullying was bad. I just hope this book doesn't give kids ideas. I won't let my child read this. Nope.
The only good part was the author's discussion at the end. It was really enlightening and horrifying, to learn that the story is inspired from true events. Either way, I'd say there are better books out there.
When Linda Fischer gives a report on whales to Jill Brenner's fifth grade class, Jill's classmate Wendy begins calling Linda by the cruel nickname of Blubber. Soon, everyone in the class is in on the joke, and Jill is dressing as a flenser - one who removes the blubber from dead whales - for Halloween. For weeks afterward, Linda is the target of increasingly mean attacks that are both psychological and physical in nature. Jill never sees anything particularly wrong about her treatment of Linda until she crosses Wendy herself and finds the situation reversed.
My memories of reading Blubber as a child are fairly vivid. As an eleven and twelve-year-old I went through a long period of time where I had trouble sleeping. To keep myself occupied in the middle of the night, and to help myself fall asleep, I used to read the same few comforting books over and over again. Blubber was one of these. As I think back on the book, I can remember the font used for the chapter headings, the way the binding on my paperback copy was shredded and coming apart from being opened and closed so many times, and the ridiculously dated-looking cover illustration. Prior to this re-reading, I also remembered little flashes of the story: the fact that Jill collects stamps, and that she dresses like a flenser for Halloween; the fact that the Brenners' housekeeper is too old to have children, and that the family attends a bar mitzvah together.
As most girls do, I had my own issues with bullying around the time that I read this book. When I was 10, Blubber was already nearly 20 years old, but everything in it rang true, from the kids moving their desks away from Linda to avoid being near her, to the awkwardness of Jill running into Linda outside of school. These were situations I recognized, and the kids in the story very closely resembled my own classmates. I remember thinking of this book as a very realistic, and therefore "safe" story to read. No one died, and everything ended on a reasonably positive note, which is the exact kind of story a kid with insomnia wants to read at midnight when everyone else in the house is asleep.
Reading this book as an adult is a totally different experience. For one thing, I found Jill absolutely unlikable at many points in the story. She's a follower, not a leader, and she willingly causes trouble and hides it from her parents. She's a picky eater, and she complains constantly about her clothes, about her housekeeper going on vacation, and about the disappointing offerings the stamp companies send her for her stamp collection. If I had never read this book as a kid, I would seriously be questioning whether kids could like Jill since she is so unplasant. But knowing that I did like her, and that I read the book dozens of times, makes me realize that Judy Blume has a gift for seeing kids as they really are, not as adults would like them to be. Had Jill been more likable, I'm not sure she would have felt real. She's intriguing because of the truth she reflects about how girls interact with one another during early adolescence.
I was also much more troubled by the bullying scenes during this re-reading. Under Wendy's leadership, the kids in Jill's class do some truly horrible things to Linda, including forcing her to say certain things before she is allowed to enter the bathroom, and stripping her down to her underwear in front of the boys. The fact that these didn't bother me more as a kid says a lot about how commonplace this treatment must have seemed to me. As an adult, though, I kept wishing for a parent or teacher to find out what was happening and get involved. It horrified me to think that all of these things happened to Linda without a single adult ever finding out. I know it's realistic, but I don't see these characters as peers anymore. Now I think of them as potential versions of my own children, and my focus is on protecting them.
This ties into another issue that bothered me: the absolute apathy of Jill's teacher, Mrs. Minish. I think I saw her as sort of irrelevant and secondary when I read the book as a kid, but now I can't help but wonder how she could be so oblivious. She falls for blatant lies from members of her class about how Linda is being treated, and when the class is unusually quiet one afternoon after they have perpetrated something particularly horrible, she praises them for their good behavior. She is noticeably bored during class presentations and seems to harp on the students more than anything else. No doubt, in a contemporary bullying book, she would have become Linda's champion, so it was jarring to see Blume's portrayal of her as detached, ineffective, and clueless. If Blume is commenting on the attitudes of many public school teachers, she is not very far off the mark at all.
For this re-reading, I listened to the audiobook, read by Halley Feiffer (daughter of Jules Feiffer!), who was excellent. She gets Jill's brazen and sarcastic tone of voice just right in those moments when she is being meanest to Linda, but she also infuses her reading of the book with a warmth and a vulnerability that really brings the subtlety of the character to the recording. Her voice really becomes Jill's voice, and it feels like Jill is speaking to the reader on the way home from school, just as she might to her best friend.
I was expecting reading this book to simply be a fun exercise in nostalgia, but Blubber really does hold up quite well for being 40 years old, and I love it every bit as much now as I did based solely on my somewhat shaky childhood memories. I don't always love the way Judy Blume pushes the envelope in her books, but I love that she portrays these characters so truthfully without sugar-coating their flaws, and that she ends the story with a hopeful, but not completely neat, resolution. There is some language in this book, and the cruelty is a bit hard to stomach at times, but this is a book I feel I can recommend without reservation, especially to girls who have faced the issues Jill sees happening in her classroom each day. It's the most honest book about bullying among girls that I have ever read, and it definitely did its part to help me through my own tough tween times.
Judy Blume touched my life in many ways. When I was growing up, many situations were ignored by writers in books for children and young adults. While there were some stories of bullying or childhood challenges, they weren't specific. The reader might vaguely identify with the situation but it was Blume who tackled this head on.
This book really spoke to me in the bullying I experienced and I read it more than once. A friend mentions that the bullies didn't get punished. In real life, bullies seldom do. Then when they grow up many become supervisors or bosses (not all by any means). Observe modern day accounts of leaders that go awry and you will find that they are often bullies. Is there a trend? Psychologist have been able to prove it. However, I digress.
While these stories are fifty years old, they are still relevant. I think they should be shared for their power to convey the emotion bullying evokes. Sure, bullying has gone high tech but at its heart bullying has been around since before Cain killed Abel.
So, the bullies weren't punished? Linda was humiliated several times, being called Blubber, and she didn't speak to her mother, to her teacher, or to the principal? And in the end, Linda goes on alone without friends? And the book's narrator that practiced bullying against Linda ended up happy? I can't believe in it! Maybe my English knowledge isn't good enough because English isn't my mother language and I didn't understand the book...
I think my main complaint with this book is that it is dishonest. It's fiction, of course, but I feel it's presented to the reader under false pretenses. It is presented as the story of Linda's torment as told by Jill, a reluctant participant in the bullying. But Jill is not a reluctant participant. She didn't start it, but she was quite happy to go along with ringleader Wendy's schemes, and she never expressed any kind of remorse or reluctance, even to herself. She very obliquely mentions Linda to her mother, not naming her specifically but observing that some people let others just walk all over them. I got the idea (all this came about when I read this as an adult; when I first read it in fourth grade I didn't pick up on all this, it was just a story about a very mean bunch of kids) that we were supposed to think that Jill's conscience was hurting her but that she could not tell her mother the full story because she would then have to reveal her own bad behavior. But instead, throughout the book, I was struck by Jill's utter lack of conscience, about everything and not just Linda. The story starts out believably enough, with the overweight Linda giving an oral report about whales and Wendy, the smartest and most popular kid in the class, passing a note to Jill saying "Blubber is a good name for her." And just like that, the name sticks and Linda is Blubber from there on. She isn't the fattest kid in the class; two girls and a boy are fatter. Nor was she previously a target, apparently. It was just her unfortunate choice of animals to give a speech about that set things in motion. The class, led by Wendy and her lackey Caroline, aren't content with just calling Linda Blubber for a few days. They devote much time and energy to making Linda's life miserable. They call her names, trip her, make her kis Wendy's shoe, force her to repeat that she is a smelly whale, and make her kiss a boy in the class, who is no happier about it than Linda is. Throughout, Jill never comes up with any ideas herself, but she is always an enthusiastic player in Wendy's ugly little game. She relates the incidents emotionlessly and casually, as if they are simply an ordinary part of her school day. Nor is Jill's antisocial behavior confined to school. She and her friend Tracy not only toilet-paper and Silly-String Linda's house on Halloween night, they also put rotten eggs (which they have been keeping hidden for a month; I smell premeditation here) in the mailbox of a neighbor who, although he is widely disliked, has never done anything against them personally. On this same night, Jill reacts with disapproval when Wendy and Caroline brag that they have smashed six jack-o-lanterns, saying "that's not fair." She has a pretty skewed idea of what is fair. The book just seems to miss the point it was supposedly created to make. Yes, bullying is wrong, but so what? Jill doesn't really grasp this even when the tables are turned and Wendy begins picking on her. And what caused Wendy to do this? Not Jill sticking up for Linda, as we are supposed to believe. Jill interupted Wendy's mock-trial of Linda by saying that Linda is entitled to a lawyer, an idea Wendy rejects. I get the distinct impression that Jill only insisted on Linda's right to a lawyer because she was tired of Wendy having all the ideas and wanted some of the spotlight for herself, and that her letting Linda out of the supply closet against Wendy's wishes was solely about raining on Wendy's parade and not about any compassion for Linda. Jill is miserable once Wendy switches her attentions from Linda to her, but she never connects her own hurt with the hurt Linda must have felt. She doesn't get that she is reaping what she has sown. And Linda? Linda is an unsympathetic victim, not because she is unpleasant but because she is totally devoid of personality. She seems to be a natural-born victim, and her passivness is creepy. But worse is her reaction when Wendy abruptly stops abusing her and begins abusing Jill. Rather than just ignoring Linda, Wendy somehow, in the space of a day or two, convinces Linda that they are best friends, even abandoning her loyal henchman Caroline. Is Linda truly so stupid that she would so quickly forget the weeks of verbal and physical abuse and believe that Wendy was now her friend? For that matter, is Wendy really that good a manipulator? Honestly, Wendy puts me in mind of a hardened prison inmate who runs not only the other inmates but the guards as well. She was just too over the top to be realistic. Also not believable that her evident sociopathy was completely unknown to any of the teachers at school. In my experience, high achievers like Wendy didn't sink to her level; they might make nasty remarks or tell lies, but the ones who engaged in the kind of sustained, systematic mistreatment of others were not as socially sophisticated or academically successful as Wendy was. The book's ending is unsatisfactory but plausible in that Linda is again left friendless and Jill is still not sorry for anything she has done. But in fiction, characters are supposed to change somehow, and the fact that neither Jill, nor Linda, nor Wendy changes makes the book feel like it was a completely wasted undertaking.
This book repulsed me in so many ways. To have to watch (read) as an innocent child is torn to emotional shreds hurts my heart, even if she is a fictional character. Even though Blume tries to give her main character a chance at redemption, I felt like this character was flat, evil, and horrible to anyone who seemed weaker than her. I can't honestly say I loved this book however, I think it's important that kids and adults be taught about bullying. This book is a good conversation starter, but the ending left me angry. I hope others will use this book as a teaching tool to show how words and certain actions can be harmful to others and have the power to destroy people's lives if wielded haphazardly.
This book was so sad! I almost cried 5 different times!
But, "Blubber" also gave me a new insight on bullying. I used to think most bullies had a rough life and/or family, etc. But, "Blubber" let me know that not every bully has to have extremely hard times. Like Jill, some people may just be influenced by a bossy "friend."
"Blubber" was heartbreaking and heartwarming, but... the ending! Ughhh!! Tracy, the target of bullying from the girls at school was just left alone at the end of the book. WHAT?! Like, nothing good happened to Tracy the whole book, and it's just sad. The ending almost wants me to rate "Blubber" a 4-star. Maybe I'm feeling to sensitive, but... SERIOUSLY?!
Don't get the wrong idea about this book after that, though... it was AMAZING!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
****4.0**** In fifth grade class, when Linda gives a report on Whales, she becomes target of bullying. Wendy, a girl who likes to control the class begins to call Linda with a cruel name "Blubber". The class follows her name-calling and so does our protagonist Jill. Jill doesn't have any particular grudge on anybody in the class, but just to be in the boat, she follows Wendy.
The story follows Jill at her house with her family and at school. Different fun kids have at that age along with bullying and the effects that causes, both psychological and physical. When Jill defends Linda in a situation, Jill becomes the next target and is bullied around in the class. Though, Jill handles it in her way, the story left a deep impact on me seeing how kids can behave, for that age,if not guided and helped.
“There are some people who just make you want to see how far you can go.”
A great read. Imaginable characters and a strong plot.
Kudos to Blume for not sugar coating the issue of bullying. It was tough to read about poor Linda being victimized day after day but it was even worse that NONE of the adults showed any concern or tried to find out what was going on. The teacher turned a blind eye, the principal accepted anything the popular kids told him, the bus driver was oblivious to horrible treatment happening on his bus and the parents didn't seem to care about the well being of their children. That, and the fact there is no accountability nor consequences for the perpetrators, sends a bit of a dangerous message to kids reading this book.
This is the review of Blubber by Judy Blume. The book Blubber is detailed and formed about the power and bullying among fifth-grade students. Linda who gets bullied by classmates. Linda reports about the whale, and other students start calling her "Blubber." Jill is the narrator also the main character of this novel. Jill along with the bullied but later realizes that the mean friends are not real friends. When she becomes the target of bullying by friends, she finds a way to cope.
I think the main theme of this book is bullying. I am a positive opinion about the main theme of the book as bullying. The reason for this is that bullying may be overlooked by people in some ways. But, I think it's easier for all ages, especially teenagers, to understand the person who is bullied if they read it.
I think there are a lot of positives in this book. I think there are a lot of positives because it helps me to understand the explanation of bullying and the minds of those who are being bullied. And it clearly demonstrates that there is a power among my friends about how actually being bullied, so I think that what I want to talk to all ages is clearly communicated. I think that the part that needs to make an end of the story clearly.
I recommend this book especially to teenagers because I have learned a lot from reading this book. Nowadays, teenagers think bullying is a very easy problem. Teenagers read this book will provide an opportunity to understand and introspection of the bullied person.
I have five-star ratings for this novel. Because it was interesting while reading the book, I liked it generally, and I'm happy with the choice of this book.
I hated this book. So. Much. I don't even know where to begin. First, let's start with the cussing. Really? They're like 11 and they were at the most unnecessary places. If it has a purpose, great but well over half of the words didn't. Second, and far more importantly, was the bullying. Calling Linda blubber, making fat jokes, forcing her skirt up to flash her underwear, pinning her arms down and forcing her to eat a chocolate covered ant, locking her in a supply closet for a "case"? This is some serious stuff. I kept getting more angry as the book went on. The only thing that kept me going was that SURELY they would learn a lesson in the end. But. They. Didn't. All her "friends" (except Tracey) turn her back on her and begin bullying her instead of Linda. Does she suddenly feel sorry for Linda? Nope. Does Linda stand up for her cause she knows what its like to be bullied? Nope. Jill takes the philosophy of how she reacts will determine how bad it is and its Linda's fault for not standing up for herself. What?? I understand Blume's intended message with this book. Yes, many cases of bullying aren't resolved in a satisfactory manner and goes unnoticed by adults. What she doesn't touch on is how devastating this type of treatment can be. Many kids spiral into violence driven by anger, depression, and even suicide. Kids need adult intervention. You don't have to teach a child to be bad, but you do have to teach them to be good. Get involved. It takes a village. That also takes active participation. Aghh I could go on and on. I could also go back and edit this venting session to look like a semi-decent review but I'm not gonna. This is my unfiltered opinion about this book and I really don't care to change a bit of it.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
not even going to lie .... this book was tough to read. i really could not stand jill and just thought she was so mean throughout, but i think that’s the point judy blume is trying to make.
she wanted to bring bullying to light, almost how “contagious” it can be to join in when you’re so focused on yourself, like jill was, that you don’t really care what happens to others, so long as it doesn’t happen to you.
there were definitely some parts in this book that i could barely read because of how awful they were. but this book also made me realize, yet again, that bullying can go by completely unnoticed like it did for Mrs. Minnish. so how do we stop it? how do help those kids like linda that keep quiet about what’s going on?
this book is raw and real and truly shows what bullying can look like in a school setting. i highly recommend it for everyone!!!!
Over 35 years after it was first written, Judy Blume’s Blubber still delivers a relevant view of bullying, from the perspective of fifth grader, Jill Brenner. After pudgy Linda presents a classroom assignment on the whale, she is nicknamed “Blubber” by Wendy, the most popular girl at school, and so begins a daily ritual of abuse. While Jill isn’t the leader of the pack, she joins right in, seemingly without any hesitation. Is it peer pressure? When Wendy first writes a note using the name Blubber, Jill smiles, not because she thinks it’s funny but because Wendy is watching her. After that, she participates wholeheartedly.
Over the next few weeks, most of the kids laugh at Linda, call her names, spit at her, and trip her. They even physically hold her down to mess with her clothes and later, to force her to eat something unappealing. Linda lets it happen, doing very little to resist or fight back. In the end, they lock her in a closet and declare that she’s on trial. Of course, Wendy is the judge and this inquiry is anything but fair. Jill thinks that she’ll never be in Linda’s position, but she learns that popularity is fleeting and that her position in the classroom hierarchy only lasts as long as she is willing to go along with the crowd.
These kids seem to feel no remorse. In fact, there is a general lack of respect for their neighbors, teachers and other students. They justify inappropriate behavior by claiming that the person gets what they deserve. They vandalize houses during Halloween and brag about it. Their teachers are oblivious and Jill’s parents are distracted, leaving the action to play out without any supervision. In many ways these kids are still so young, dressing up for Halloween or collecting stamps, and left to their own devices they sink to the lowest level. While none of the characters ever seem to gain much in the way of compassion or feeling, Jill does show readers that they should never let “other people decide what’s going to happen to you” and that there are ways to stand up for yourself. This matter-of-fact, true to life portrayal of classroom dynamics is a must read!
This was one of my favourite books as a kid (from my favourite childhood author). I just finished reading it to my own kids. I don’t remember the bullying scenes being so horrendous as a a kid and I felt really uncomfortable reading them. They were necessary for the book, though, and helped put the message across. Judy wrote a short blurb at the end that says why she wrote the book and that really adds to it. It opened up such a great conversation with my kids about bullying and standing up for yourself and others.