Blubber

Blubber is a 1974 young adult book by Judy Blume. It is about bullying and being bullied.

This story is told by fifth-grader Jill Brenner.  She tells about how she and her best friend, Tracy Wu , along with classmates Caroline and Wendy, make life miserable for another classmate, Linda Fischer.

Linda is overweight, and when the class is given an assignment to do a report on a mammal, Linda chooses a whale.  

This turns out to be bad news for her. She explains what blubber is, and that it keeps the whale warm in cold water.  She says that men who remove it from the whale are called "flensers". They peel it off  and cut it into strips.

While Linda gives her report, Wendy (the meanest of the four girls), passes a note to Jill that says, "blubber is a good name for her!" Robby, who sits next to Jill, grabs the note, and it gets passed around the room.   All the kids start laughing.

From then on, this is what they call Linda at every opportunity.  The four girls also say - and do - all kinds of other  disgusting things to her.  And it gets worse as time goes on.

Halloween is approaching, and Jill gets what she thinks is a great idea about what her costume will be.  One that she thinks will surely get her the prize for the most original costume.  She will go as a flenser!

When the kids go trick or treating around the neighborhood in the evening, they also collect money for Unicef.  Jill and Tracy plan to "trick" Mr. Machinist.  They think he deserves it.  He never gives to Unicef, and the girls think he's mean. They think that "if ever there was a person who'd put razor blades in apples, it's him".  They decide to crack open rotten eggs and put them in his mailbox. 


Complaints about this book are mostly about the students not being punished for their behavior.

Okay, they have a point.  But that's certainly no reason to have it removed from library shelves.

Although Jill and Tracy did get identified as the ones who egged Mr. Machinist's mailbox, and their parents made them rake and bag the leaves in his yard as punishment, no one found out about the bullying of Linda Fischer.

But that's the way it goes a lot of the time, isn't it?  The one being bullied is often too afraid to tell, the bullies sure aren't going to, and the bystanders are also reluctant to say anything, fearing they will become targets, as well.

Blubber would be good to use in a classroom discussion about these issues.



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