Writing, Arts & Entertainment

Idea Case Studies

Judy Blume

Lesson time 8:20 min

Judy shares the inspiration behind some of her most iconic and enduring books and characters: Margaret, Fudge, and Blubber.

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Topics include: Margaret • Fudge • Blubber


From Margaret, what I remember is saying, now I'm going to write a book-- forget the rules. I had taken a class, and there was some rules about children's books. Everything has to be tied up neatly. Children can never eavesdrop. I mean all the things that-- I was just so-- not true for me. So my idea was I'm going to sit down now, and I'm just going to start telling this story that I know to be true, based very much on my own sixth-grade experience, although very different in terms of the characters. But am I, was I, like Margaret? Yes. I was small. I was skinny. I was a late developer. I was obsessed by the idea of growing breasts and getting my period. That was so much a part of that one year of my life. Oh, I tried everything. I had a little bra, and I tried socks in it. And I tried toilet paper. Maybe I didn't have a bra yet. Maybe I just put cotton balls inside my t-shirt, and they fell down. And I tried socks, and that was like a little overkill. And I just played with the idea of, when will this happen to me? A lot of my friends in sixth grade developed years before I did. Because at 12, some of them were fully developed. They had their periods. They had breasts. They were as tall as they were going to get. And I was just this little skinny Judy. And so that was a very big part of it. Puberty, the whole idea of growing up, I really wanted it. I wanted it. And I've met a lot of kids who are just the opposite. They say I never wanted it. I cried. I never wanted to grow up. But I did. I wanted to grow up. I think the fantasy of a lot of children is to be grown up. That's what we play that. We wanted to be grown up. So I was going to put that in, in this book. I was determined to put this in, whether it had ever been done before, I don't know. I didn't care. I was going to do it. And it never occurred to me to be afraid to do this, that there would be any problems doing this. This was real. This was, again, the reality that I knew. The question of religion and how do you choose a religion, that was fictional. And it's interesting when I think about the book today, it's really so much about finding your place, finding what you believe in. Margaret went out there looking for God everywhere, in churches and synagogues. But she never found the god that she had, obviously, inside-- the god that she talked to, that she confided in. I had my own relationship with God, a very private relationship with God that I also would never, ever have told anyone about. But that was true. I did say, are you there god? It's me, Judy, not Margaret. [MUSIC PLAYING] So for "Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing," the character of Fudge was definitely inspired by my little son, Larry, when he was that age. Larry was probably-- he was past toddler age by then. ...

About the Instructor

Judy Blume broke the rules. Her refreshingly honest children’s books were banned by hundreds of libraries and loved by generations of readers, who bought 85 million copies of classics like Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret and Superfudge. In her first online writing class, the award-winning author teaches you how to invent vivid characters, write realistic dialogue, and turn your experiences into stories people will treasure.

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Judy Blume

In 24 lessons, Judy Blume will show you how to develop vibrant characters and hook your readers.

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