Book Jacket Synopsis: “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 whales just now. Jill wants to think about Halloween. But then Robby grabs the note, and before Linda is done 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.”
Review: I have never read Blubber before, but I did read other Judy Blume books when I was younger and enjoyed many of them. However, I think that Blubber falls short in a few different ways. While the book is marketed as an anti-bullying children’s novel, it fails to actually push an anti-bullying message. For example, when Jill Brenner (the main character) decides to cancel the trial against Linda/Blubber (who has been locked in a closet by her peers), she doesn’t do so because she realizes that what her and her classmates are doing is wrong. Instead, she cancels the trial because it isn’t formatted exactly how she wants it to be. Even when the class turns against Jill and starts bullying her, it doesn’t cause her to reflect on how unkindly she treated Linda. Jill is upset that her peers no longer like her, but ultimately the bullying stops and the book ends with everyone in the same position they started in: Jill has a few close friends, Wendy (the main antagonist) is still the leader of a small clique, and Linda/Blubber is isolated and friendless once again. Overall, I do not necessarily see a lot of merit in this book, as far as having a positive influence on young kids goes.
Reason for Ban/Challenge: Blubber has been banned and challenged in multiple classrooms for a variety of reasons, including ‘lack of moral tone’ (Montgomery County, Maryland) and for allowing ‘evil behavior’ to go unpunished (Canton, Ohio). It also contains some swear words and racial slurs.