A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this book presents a pretty realistic take on what it's like to be a sixth-grade girl (which means it's fine for girls a bit younger since they are always looking ahead): Readers will find it easy to relate to honest Margaret, who says "I want to be like everybody else." There's some talk about periods, boys, bras, and bodies -- and Margaret sneaks her father's Playboy for her curious friends to look at. She and her friends gossip about the most-developed girl in class, and, at a party, the kids play "Two Minutes in the Closet" and other kissing games. Margaret grapples with some big questions about growing up, including what religion she should be (if any). She talks to God in a very personal way and at one point even gets so angry at him that she refuses to talk to him anymore. Ultimately, tweens learn that they're not alone in wishing that they would hurry up and grow up.
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What's the story?
When Margaret Simon moves from New York City to the New Jersey suburbs, she's swept up into a group of sixth-grade girls abuzz about all the stuff that fills most teen and tween minds: boys, bras, bodies, friendship, and more. In addition, Margaret, born to a Christian mom and Jewish dad, is also trying to figure out which religion she should be, if any. She has frank one-sided conversations with God in which she discusses not only the changes she's going through, but her search for a religion that feels right.
Is it any good?
Although this was first published in 1970, tweens will find that it still it pretty much rings true today. (It helps that this updated version has the girls using pads instead of sanitary belts to deal with their first periods). Margaret is such a relatable character -- she worries about being normal, sometimes says the wrong thing, and even hides her true feelings to be accepted by her friends. Readers will appreciate her honest narration -- which will make them feel a whole lot better about that their own anxieties about growing up.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the fact that author Judy Blume is the author of five books that appear on the American Library Association's Top 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2000-2007. Are you surprised that this book is on the list? What do you think makes it controversial?
Margaret worries a lot about being normal, and she wants to grow up -- but she still gets embarrassed by things like bra shopping. This book was written in 1970 -- do you think a lot has changed since then? Do you feel like you relate to Margaret?
Margaret's friend Nancy spreads gossip about Laura -- she says that Laura lets boys feel her up and that even their teacher can't keep his eyes off her figure. What do you think it's like to be Laura? Do you think girls who develop early still get targeted in this way?
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