Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | March 24, 2010

Judy Blume

When Dori was assigned to read a biography and do a related project, I had no idea how interesting it would be. Though I swore I would never go pick out books for her at the library for a class assignment, I ended up doing just that. I brought home a variety of biographies to choose from – on authors, scientists, founding fathers and more. She chose Marie Curie (she wants to be a scientist like her dad).

In spite of the stack of books on my bedside table, I decided to read the youth-version biographies of Judy Blume, Louis Sachar (author of the awesome Wayside School books) and H. A. Rey (author of the Curious George books. Rey, it turns out, was a German Jew (he shortened his name while living in Brazil) who later fled Nazi-occupied Paris with his Jewish wife Margret – with the Curious George manuscripts in his bag).

Reading the Judy Blume biography, I was suprised to find that she grew up in Elizabeth, NJ which is close to here. It’s home to our nearest IKEA (I type this on my IKEA desk). In fact. Westfield (my town), at one time was part of Elizabeth – the West Fields of Elizabeth. See how creative they were naming our town?

While in college at NYU, Judy’s parents (the Sussmans) moved from Elizabeth to Westfield, and Judy met her first husband at her parent’s neighbor’s party. He was a Westfield boy. After they married they moved to Plainfield – another creative New Jersey town name. Plainfield is a few towns over from here. They later moved to Scotch Plains, (the next town over from Westfield, and the home of the Mazal Tov sign I posted a few days ago). She wrote Blubber from her daughter’s experience at a school there. Maybe even the school photographed. Hmmm…. It’s the story of an overweight girl who gets teased at school. Ah…things don’t change.

My favorite part of the book was reading this paragraph: “As soon as Judy’s book was published, a newspaper reporter and photographer arrived on her doorstep. Her picture appeared in the Westfield Leader the next day with an article headlined, “Mom Keeps Busy Writing Books for Little Children.””

Mark and I read this paper weekly for its small town humor value. We find out whose son made honor roll at Delaware College. And whose child is studying abroad. And which Girl Scout troop donated money to Haiti. And what idiot left his wallet on a phone booth, and returned later to find it missing. We’ve also seen plenty of stories of local authors who managed to get their book published. I laugh now, but just wait until I publish my first book – and the Westfield Leader is the only paper to cover it!


  1. I love this post. Wow. Judy Blume. Hadn’t thought of her in years but I loved her books.

    Hope you’re well Debbie!

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