Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Reader's Diary #1116- Judy Blume: Freckle Juice

Not one of her more controversial books by any means, Freckle Juice is nonetheless one of Judy Blume's best known works. Then, Freckle Juice is also aimed at a younger audience than Are You There God? It's Me Margaret and those other frequently challenged titles.

It still has an important message, however, about accepting one's physical appearance. Andrew, the boy on the cover above, does not accept his appearance. Nicky, the boy who sits in front of him in class, is covered in freckles and Andrew is J-E-A-L-O-U-S. It's told innocently and humorously enough that one doesn't need to get all preachy about the "dangers of body dysmorphia," but the seeds for that discussion are certainly available for planting.

Taking advantage of Andrew's desire to be more freckled is Sharon, a girl in Andrew's grade 3 class, who, given the two dimensional treatment by Blume, appears almost pure evil. She sells Andrew a recipe for freckle juice, comprised of various items commonly found in a kitchen; nothing poisonous, but gross enough that when mixed together and drank, makes Andrew sick. What's worse, it doesn't give him freckles. I loved this particular part of the story. It brought me back to my own childhood when a cousin and I would often make kitchen concoctions. We were convinced that the cure for cancer was awaiting humankind right there in the refrigerator if we could just discover the correct amounts of pickle brine and barbeque sauce.

Finally at the end, Andrew plans to not give Sharon the satisfaction of knowing she'd taken him for a chump, attempts to cover himself with fake freckles (see cover). When that doesn't work, the story comes almost full circle with a couple delightful twists that I'll avoid spoiling any further.

1 comment:

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Full disclosure: I have actually never read any Judy Blume books. This seems like a good one to start with!