Article on Judy Blume : Are her earlier children/pre-teen and young adult books still relevant today?

I would like to say that I was looking through my shelves and came across my books by Judy Blume, that would be more normal, but I wasn’t. I was in fact in the shower, the place where inspiration has often struck for many a thing. So, my attentions oddly turned to Judy Blume. I began to think about her books that I loved reading, some of them even over and over and it got me wondering about their relevance for today’s children. So that’s what I am going to explore and answer within this article.

Judy Blume, the American author who many children in the 80s and 90s were clamouring to read, not just in the US, but also the UK. She has written several books crossing all age groups. There are books for young children, teenagers/young adults and adults. The question is: are her books still relevant to today’s youthful readers in 2018 and beyond?

All of her stories have something in common with the contemporary, more newly published books that are read today. That is they all have universal themes of issues, friendship, family and what it is to be growing up into a teenager/young adult and finding your way in the world, with so much going on in life. They also have strong, but believable characters that can be easily related to.

These issues aren’t just universal, but still exist today. Take Blubber for example. A book about a girl who joins a new school and happens to be overweight and yet endures being bullied terribly over her appearance. This still goes on in today’s society. The book is also about building resilience and courage to tell someone, to a certain extent as well as friendship. This too is useful for children to read today. Bullying still happens in today’s society!

Blubber

The Fudge series, starting with Fourth Grade None and ending with Superfudge will still be found as being fun for children to read today. Children still get up to mischief, have friends and family. Her character, Sheila, within this series also has a book of her own called Sheila the Great has themes of friendship and also that feeling of perfection, even though you know you’re not and yet that’s what you feel you have to project to the world. Children to different degrees, still have these feelings as they try to find their way in life and feel that need to impress all the time. They have in the past and I dare say they will into the future too.

Judy Blume Fudge

Just As Long as We are Together, it’s sequel: Here’s to You Rachel Robinson and Starring Sally J. Freedman all have historical aspects within them. The difference that Just As Long as We are Together and Here’s to You Rachel Robinson are written in the present time. Well. the 80’s anyway, but with historical references and race relations, especially within Iggie’s House. The themes throughout them are those of best friends, family and education from a teenager’s point of view. It’s Not the End of the World tackles issues surrounding a family breaking-up and moving ever closer to divorce and all the emotions.  Parents still divorce and children still try to get their fairytale ending. All these books show family and friend issues, which still exist in similar ways as today.

              Just as Long as We're TogetherHere's to you Rachel RobinsonStarring Sally J Freeman as Herself

 

Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret, tackles growing up. It’s about forming secret clubs to talk about things that seem to matter an awful lot when you’re a girl coming of age, such as boys and the changing body. It also has a focus on friendships, family and religion. In this case the Jewish and Christian faiths, interfaith marriages and falling in and out of a relationship with God. Many children, young people and even adults have questions, doubts and curiosity. The book also tackles themes that present in lots of teens/young adults such as anxieties and insecurities about growing up. The books Deenie and Forever are also about the coming of age. Deenie, however shows it from a different point of view. It is primarily about a girl who has scoliosis and how she feels about having a back brace and seeing a councillor as well as tackling growing up. It is also about friendships, puberty, discovering relationships and in Deenie’s case, if a boy would still fancy her or not.
Everyone comes of age and everyone starts growing up, no matter what their life circumstances are.

Are you there God

So, returning to my initial question of: are Judy Blume’s children to pre-teen to teenage/young adult books still relevant for today? The answer is absolutely YES, they are. these topics and issues are always going to be around and even though they were primarily first published between the 70’s and 80’s, they’ve essentially not dated. Alright there aren’t the mobile phones or tablets that we have today, but the topics, the discussions, the issues, the coming of age are all exactly the same as what this age group have right now and future generations will too. They are recurring themes in nearly all of her contemporaries books, in some form or another, be it an actual coming of age book, or fantasy and even some mystery books have some of these themes. That is because they tackle many aspects a young girl, progressing and transitioning into famale adulthood will deal with at somepoint or another in their lives. They also deal with other topics too that are universal and may be witnessed, if not experienced. In some sense, all the characters, even though written a few decades ago, are still going to be just as relatable today as they were when they were first conceived. There are strong, believable characters, there is joy, anguish and compassion to be felt within the pages. There are also lessons to be learnt within those pages, even for today’s society. So, even though the cover-art/book jackets have changed over the years, after each publication, the themes of life in reality have not. Each theme is still being lived out by someone, somewhere in the world, everyday and every year.

So, if you’ve not tried one of these books by Judy Blume yet, perhaps because they’re not on the number 1 spot or because of when they were first published, then think about them again and them a go. These are books that will always stand the test of time and the pre-teen and teenage/young adult groups will always be able to relate to the contents of her books.

Judy Blume’s books can be purchased in Amazon, Book People and other bookshops. Occasionally they can be borrowed in your local library.
They can be bought as a box-set, individually and some stories feature in 3-in-1 books.

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Settlement by Anne Stormont – Excerpt – Romance Can Be Full of Complexities @writeanne #LoveBookGroups Tour #Edinburgh #Skye #Romance #politics #Reading #NewBook

Settlement Blog Tour

 

          Settlement Blog Tour



Blurb

Can love truly heal old wounds? Can the past ever be put peacefully to rest?
If you like a complex, grown-up romance with lots of raw emotion, dramatic and exotic settings, all mixed in with some international politics and laced with elements of a crime thriller, then this is the book for you.
Falling in love is the easy bit. Happy ever after requires work, commitment and honesty.
She wants him to be her friend and lover. He wants her as his wife. Can a compromise be reached? Or are things truly over between them?
When former Edinburgh policeman Jack Baxter met crofter and author Rachel Campbell at her home on the Scottish island of Skye, they fell in love. It was a second chance at happiness for them both.
But after Jack proposes marriage, it becomes clear they want different things.
Then, as Rachel prepares to return to the Middle East to work on a peacemaking project that’s close to her heart, and as Jack’s past catches up with him, it seems their relationship is doomed.
Can Rachel compromise on her need to maintain her hard-won independence?
Can Jack survive the life-threatening situation in which he finds himself?
Will they get the chance to put things right between them?
Settlement is the sequel to literary romance novel, Displacement, but it can be read as a stand-alone.
settlement

Excerpt

 

Rachel

When I heard what had happened to Jack it was like hearing about the death of my son all over again. Although, when Finlay died, there’d been no uncertainty. He was definitely gone, blown up by an IED while serving as a Royal Marine Commando in Afghanistan. But with Jack no-one seemed sure at first. He’d been shot, that much was certain, and he was on his way to hospital with terrible injuries.

I’d only got back a few days before. I’d been away for three months working in Israel and Palestine, and I’d expected Jack to be at home on Skye when I returned. He hadn’t told me he’d taken a job with the Historic Crimes Unit in Edinburgh. But then that wasn’t surprising as he’d broken off contact while I’d been away.

And now it seemed he’d been shot by some notorious criminal from his past. I struggled to process it all, struggled not to faint, struggled not to throw up. I was devastated. I loved him so much. I couldn’t lose him as well.

I wanted to go to him right away. But it was night time. He was in Edinburgh and I was hundreds of miles away on Skye. I was persuaded to wait until morning.

I went to bed but I didn’t sleep. My body was flooded with adrenalin and anxiety, my head still full of questions, confusion … and Jack Baxter.

What was it that was troubling him so much during the months leading up to me leaving? Why wouldn’t he talk to me about it? And why would anyone want to kill him?

Was what had happened to him down to me? Had he taken the job in Edinburgh because he believed things really were over between us?

Why had it gone so wrong?

Why could he not support my return to the Middle East? Couldn’t he see how important my work is to me? Why couldn’t he trust me?

And when I couldn’t bear the circling questions any longer, I tried to focus on the things I was certain of. Things like not only had he saved my life, but he’d help make it so much better. Things like how much I loved him and wanted to be with him. And that although my work on the croft, on the children’s books, and on this new Israel-Palestine project meant a lot to me, without Jack there’d be no joy in any of it.

I was also certain that I should have tried harder to put things right.

And I was distraught that now it seemed I wasn’t going to get the chance.

 

Author Info

anne-stormontAnne Stormont writes contemporary romantic fiction where the main characters are older – but not necessarily wiser.

She hopes the stories she tells will entertain, but she also hopes they will move, challenge and inspire her readers.

She has written three novels so far – Change of Life, was her first. This was followed by Displacement and its sequel Settlement.

Anne is a Scot, living in the land of her birth. She’s a retired teacher and when she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, country walks and gardening – and the occasional pillion ride on her husband’s motor bike. She also loves spending time with friends and family – especially her two grandchildren.

Anne has travelled all over the world and has visited every continent except Antarctica – somewhere she really should go considering her penchant for penguins.
She can be a bit of a subversive old bat, but she tries to maintain a kind heart.

Website: www.annestormont.co.uk

Blog: https://putitinwriting.me

Facebook: www.facebook.com/annestormontauthor

Twitter: @writeanne

 

Lastly I would like to thank #LoveBooksGroup Tours for inviting me to be part of this tour. I have done a few for them now and it is always a priveledge and great experience to be part of, to showcase different authors and their work in many ways.

Antiques and Alibis – A Quirky Investigation With a Sense of Humour @Wendyhjones @LoveBooksGroupTour

Review of Antiques and Alibis
Author – Wendy H. Jones
Rating – 5 Stars
*****

Blurb

antiques and alibis book

Cass Claymore, a red headed, motorbike riding, ex-ballerina inherits a Detective Agency, and accidentally employs an ex-con dwarf and an octogenarian. Hired by a client who should know better, Cass has no leads, no clue and a complete inability to solve a case. Still a girl needs to eat and her highbred client’s offering good money. Join her as, with bungling incompetence, she follows a trail littered with missing antique teddies, hapless crooks, a misplaced Lord of the Realm and dead bodies. Will Cass, and Scotland, survive?

Review

Antiques and Alibis is a bit different from Wendy H. Jones usual style of the gritty Shona McLean crime books and I really like it. This book is gentler in pace and funnier than her usual crime books, but the style works very well for the type of mystery that unfolds.

The very fact that the main character is a red-headed, motorbike riding, ex-ballerina who inherits a detective agency and accidentally hires an octogenarian and an ex-con was one of the premises to Antiques and Alibis, grabbed my attention. It’s quirky and rather different.

Cass Clay is a biker with courage and attitude. You soon realise that her full Christian name of Cassandra just would not suit her at all!

Cass meets her first client who wants her to investigate her son’s missing teddy. You have to keep with it because it is very funny and not just any ordinary teddy, it’s a Steiff teddy bear. 

Our main protagonist does, however, become caught up in more than she expected as she is also on the hunt for another client’s missing brother. Events turn into something more sinister for her and the rest of her clueless team. The twists and turns keep the story moving forwards and creates a bit of tension to the tale.
The book is worth reading to see if she can overcome the fact that she has absolutely no experience in detective work. There’s a saying that “everyone has got to start somewhere” and Cass Claymore is definitely right at the beginning of learning a lot and more than she ever thought she would about the crime that inhabits the north-east of Scotland.

There is much humour to find within this book, right down to how each new character is introduced.

I  enjoyed really getting to know the characters and their personalities, what made them tick and getting to know how all the relationships between them worked. This and the setting are very well-written, so the scene is set and any reader will feel they really know the main characters in time for (hopefully) the next book.

I also love that cover. I find it to be eye-catching and it’s quite exciting in an artistic sort of way. I also must mention the title. It’s a great title and one that also caught my attention. I have been to a couple of Wendy H. Jones events before (worth attending because they are fun). She talks a bit about her passion for alliteration within her events and in the case of the title, it is used exceedingly well.

Overall I enjoyed the book. It was a lot of fun. Wendy H. Jones has pitched the humour just right and I liked the style of writing. This is the first a brand new series of books. I would recommend it to anyone who also likes a bit of quirkiness and a laugh in their life. It’s a book that can be easily read any time of the day. 

About the Author

WendyAward Winning Author Wendy H. Jones lives in Scotland, and her police procedural series featuring Detective Inspector Shona McKenzie, is set in the beautiful city of Dundee, Scotland. Wendy has led a varied and adventurous life. Her love for adventure led to her joining the Royal Navy to undertake nurse training. After six years in the Navy she joined the Army where she served as an Officer for a further 17 years. This took her all over the world including Europe, the Middle East and the Far East. Much of her spare time is now spent travelling around the UK, and lands much further afield. As well as nursing Wendy also worked for many years in Academia. This led to publication in academic textbooks and journals. Killer’s Countdown is her first novel and the first book in the Shona McKenzie Mystery series. Killer’s Crew won the Books Go Social Book of the Year 2017. There are now six books in this series with Killer’s Crypt being released in August, 2017. The Dagger’s Curse is the first book in The Fergus and Flora Mysteries for Young Adults. This book is currently shortlisted for the Woman Alive Magazine Readers Choice Award Book of the Year. She is also a highly successful marketer and she shares her methods in the book, Power Packed Book Marketing.

With thanks to #LoveBooksGroupTours for giving me this great opportunity to be part of the blog tour to write a review of Antiques and Alibis.

Antiques and Alibis tour list

_______________________________________________

Title: Antiques and Alibis
Author: Wendy H. Jones
Cover Design: Cathy Helms
226 pages
Main Purchase Points:  Amazon, Waterstones
ISBN 978 – 0 – 9956475 – 4 – 5

The Treasure at the Top of the World – A Freddie Malone Adventure by Clive Mantle – Go Time Travelling and Open Up A World of Adventure and Discovery. @MantleClive @award_books @twylie68 @LoveBooksGroup #kidslit #teenbook #debut #BookReview #Education #Schools

Review of The Treasure at the Top of the World –
A Freddie Malone Adventure
Author – Clive Mantle
Rating – 5 Stars *****


About the Author

Clive Mantle photoClive Mantle, Born in Barnet, is a well-loved British Actor and has been for nearly 40 years. As a boy in the 1960s, he sang with St. John’s College Choir, Cambridge, went to the National Youth Theatre and trained at RADA in the 1970’s and has been a fixture on stage and screen ever since.
Clive Mantle is best known for playing Little John in Robin of Sherwood, Greatjon Umber in Game of Thrones, Mike Barratt in Casualty and on stage as Tommy Cooper, and Lennie in Of Mice and Men. His voice is also well known from his work on over 180 audio books, and voicing animated characters, including Gator in Thomas the Tank Engine.
He is an avid reader and has been ever since his parents handed him Stig of the Dump. His favourite children’s book are the Noggin the Nog sagas by Oliver Postgate and he has a passion for walking in the Wiltshire Countryside. Clive Mantle’s inspiration to write what is the first in the series of Freddie Malone adventures came during a trek to the Everest Base Camp for the charity Hope and Homes for Children. He has since returned to the Himalayas and completed the Annapurna circuit. Everest has been his passion since childhood, when his Father enthused him with its many tales. Years later, he realised a lifetime’s ambition and set foot on the mountain himself, and the magnificence of the experience is with him everyday. 

Synopsis

The Treasure at the Top of the World coverClive Mantle has said: “I have woven a tale of adventure in the past and present against the wondrous backdrop of Nepal and its people. I am thrilled that the story I wrote for my own son to pass on the flame has now found a wider audience, who will hopefully have their imaginations stimulated as mine was as a young boy”.

In the first of The Adventures of Freddie Malone series, The Treasure at the Top of the World Freddie receives an intriguing and unusual thirteenth birthday present from his Uncle Patrick. The ancient world map goes straight up on his wall, but Freddie fast discovers that the map is much more than just a decorative historic artefact. Freddie, and his best friend, Connor, are soon plunged into a mountainous adventure, on a path that leads to a longburied mystery, pursued by ruthless adversaries who’ll go to any lengths to get what they want.

 

Review

This is more than just a tale to tell. This a story of (in no particular order) adventure, social and land geography, history, present day, travel and friendship.
It is indeed a fictional book, but also seems part travelogue in a way, although not strictly written like one.

There are relics and treasures to be had, people to meet and a country to explore, all within the safety and comfort of your own home.

This is an impressive story that will grip children from the age of 8 years old and teenagers alike. It will send them on a terrific journey of exploration within their imaginations as they read and delve further into this book.

The cover is brilliantly conceived. It looks exciting and instantly eye-catching, with the swirly writing going into Mount Everest. It is very fitting to the content within the book. The characters are well developed – they are realistic, relatable and likeable. Readers will be able to care about these characters enough to want to find out more about them.

In the beginning of the book is the poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling. It’s not as random as it first appears. Read further into the book and all becomes apparent and makes complete sense as to why it is cleverly featured right there. It’s a fantastic, attention grabbing beginning to this novel!

The story begins at the beginning of the school summer holidays with Freddie and his best friend Connor joining together for Freddie’s birthday party. One of the gifts is an ancient map. This is where the adventure begins… After feeling unwell, he mysteriously finds himself in Kathmandu, Nepal. The map is definitely no ordinary map!
The map illustrated within the book, featuring all the locations within the story.

Children and teenagers would absolutely be able to get a sense of the sights and sounds of the city as well as a sense of emotions. They will find themselves transported to this country through the map, photos and descriptions given.

There are great photos of Mount Everest and Namche Bazarr. The photos are a brilliant way of enhancing children’s knowledge of these two iconic places in Nepal in a very visual way. Infact, throughout the book, each location in Nepal is wonderfully descriptive, which for children and teens (or anyone unsure of what anything in Nepal looks like), would be very useful for them. 

Clive Mantle weaves facts about Mount Everest and famous exhibitioners/mountaineers and other people Freddie comes across living in Nepal, into what is essentially a fictional story, very effectively. There is enough to create a fascination and to enhance knowledge, but not so much that readers will feel overwhelmed with it all. There is a very good balance between fact and fiction as well as a good pace being mantained throughout.

The book twists and turns between two worlds. It’s not all plain sailing for our intrepid explorer as the story moves along at a good pace. The transition between the two worlds are written clearly, ensuring the book is accessible to all within the age group, avoiding confusion. It also effectively mantains a natural flow. 

The book may well contain the much used method of time-travel, but the concept and the map, which is used as a device here to tell the story has a freshness about it. 

There is a real sense of adventure and danger within this book that will  excite any young reader. There are large themes of friendship, adventure and bullying all interweaved within the narrative and dialogue of the story. Clive Mantle has handled it all very well and has evidently given a lot of thought, sensitivity and care to this. Within the back of the book are several useful websites which children and their parents/carers etc can access for support. On a lighter note, he has also given further reading books for teenagers. His choices are good, they will resonate with teens who want to find out more about Nepal, Mount Everest and adventure. There are also a few pages at the end of the book, devoted to explaining the facts behind the story. This is informative and also age appropriate and connect beautifully with the story. All of this additonal information is definitely worth reading and back-up the book very well. They are also as well written as the main story itself.

This book will excite, inform and educate children and teenagers in a way that will spark their imagination, curiosity and interest. The fictional story itself is absorbing. It can be read within a home, a school and there is plenty of content within it that schools, parents, children, teenagers can use to encourage both private reading and to spark conversations with each other.

Overall, I was impressed by the content and the way it was all semlessly handled within this book and how well it is written as a whole, especially since so much is covered within those pages. Clive Mantle’s writing is very good, the language used is age appropriate for the suggested marketing age of 8+. His passion, that he has had since childhood really comes through within this book, as does the desire to share tales with others, as his father did with him. Children and teens generally like to learn about different parts of the world and Nepal, certainly in my experience of previously working within a voluntary children’s group, is one of those countries which does fascinate them. So, this book certainly feeds into their natural curiosity very well.

Coming Soon

Watch out for more Freddie Malone books to come! Excitedly, I can tell you that Clive Mantle has informed me that he is currently in the process of writing book 2 of the series, which is set in Ancient Egypt, and book 3 will be about Pepys and the great Plague and Great Fire of London.

I would like to thank Clive Mantle for providing the photos and other very useful information, such as the synopsis, personal info and details about his upcoming books.

   Namaste

____________________________________________________

Title: The Treasure at the Top of the World

Author: Clive Mantle

Some Main Purchase Points: Amazon, WH Smith, Foyles, Wordery

ISBN: 978 – 1 – 78270 – 321 – 1

Publisher: Award Publications Limited

Pages: 272

Cover Design: Patrick Knowles

Photograph of Everest: Daniel Prudeck/Shutterstock.com

Photograph of Namche Bazaar: Raisa Suprun/Shutterstock.com

Map and Text Illustration: Angie Hewitt

 

 

 

Bertie the Buffalo Review – A Sweet Book Full of Adventure @WendyHJones @malcolmdown #LoveBooksGroupTours @twylie68 #BlogTour #newbook #kidslit #picturebook #review

Review of Bertie the Buffalo
Author – Wendy H. Jones
Illustrator: Barry Diaper
Rating – 5 Stars *****

Bertie Cover

Blurb

Bertie the Buffalo is based on a true story of when a Water Buffalo escaped from a Buffalo Park in Fife, near Dundee, Scotland. A rhyming book about the adventures Bertie got up to and how he safely returned home, demonstrating how important each of us is no matter how insignificant we feel. Bertie felt that no one noticed him. But he didn’t need to think that as we are all special. We are all a part of one big family.

Review

Today is my day for being on the Blog Tour for the book – Bertie the Buffalo by Wendy H. Jones.

Bertie the Buffalo is a very sweet story that is packed full of fun and action within one big adventure for one very small water buffalo, who strays into unfamiliar territory.

I read this to a few children who really engaged with it. It is a book that can be read as it is for pre-school children and has great potential for use for the younger primary school aged children too. I say this because it can also be useful for opening up discussions, for example, about the origins of the animals he meets along the way, including an alpaca, and of course the adventure itself, which has just enough mild pearl within it for the ages this is aimed at.

The book touches upon some great themes of being small and feeling small but also, ultimately themes of family and friendship and how important everyone is. Again, perfect for being absorbed as the story is read, but also can be part of a wider discussion.

Wendy H. Jones has created a great rhythm to this story, making it a pleasure to read and good for children. The language used is appropriate and there is enough there to broaden children’s language and horizons, without it being overly challenging. The content is also very good for children to be able to spark their imagination as well as perhaps giving them a sense of adventure for themselves.

The illustrations are bright, clear and fun; which also makes the book engaging. The illustrations on each page depict the written words very well. The balance between the pictures and the text is just right for the attention span and for the ability to follow the story easily.

It’s great that there is plenty of action and humour as Bertie goes off on his adventure. The story moves along at an excellent pace, which keeps the interest flowing. The repetition of some words also works very well within the continuity of the story .

This is a lovely book which can create plenty of pleasure and scope to be read at home, in a nursery or a classroom setting. It certainly does not disappoint!

 

About the Author

WendyAward Winning Author Wendy H. Jones lives in Scotland, and her police procedural series featuring Detective Inspector Shona McKenzie, is set in the beautiful city of Dundee, Scotland. Wendy has led a varied and adventurous life. Her love for adventure led to her joining the Royal Navy to undertake nurse training. After six years in the Navy she joined the Army where she served as an Officer for a further 17 years. This took her all over the world including Europe, the Middle East and the Far East. Much of her spare time is now spent travelling around the UK, and lands much further afield. As well as nursing Wendy also worked for many years in Academia. This led to publication in academic textbooks and journals. Killer’s Countdown is her first novel and the first book in the Shona McKenzie Mystery series. Killer’s Crew won the Books Go Social Book of the Year 2017. There are now six books in this series with Killer’s Crypt being released in August, 2017. The Dagger’s Curse is the first book in The Fergus and Flora Mysteries for Young Adults. This book is currently shortlisted for the Woman Alive Magazine Readers Choice Award Book of the Year. She is also a highly successful marketer and she shares her methods in the book, Power Packed Book Marketing.

I was very pleased to be writing a review of Bertie the Buffalo as part of a Blog Tour. With thanks to #LoveBooksGroupTours.
Bertie Tour Notice
________________________________________________
Title: Bertie The Buffalo
Author: Wendy H. Jones
Illustrator: Barry Diaper
Publisher: Sarah Grace Publishing. An imprint of Malcolm Down Publishing Ltd
32 pages
Main Purchase Points:  Amazon, Waterstones
ISBN 978 – 1 – 91078652 – 04 – 4