Blubber by Judy Blume, The Olympains Book 2 by Rick Riordan

Blubber by Judy Blume
I re-read this classic on my trip to Minneapolis in part because I've decided to teach it this fall, inspired by Betty Bush. It's a novel about teasing among children, definitely, but it's also a novel about growing up. Not coming of age, but embarking on those first steps towards maturity that involve taking responsibility for one's actions. At one point, protagonist Jill and best friend Tracy are talking about the tooth fairy. They are aware, however subtly, that childhood is drawing to a close:

"...How much do you think it's worth?"
"I'm not sure," I told her. "Last time I got a quarter."
"If I were you I'd try for more. We haven't got that many baby teeth left." (p. 66)

Another passage: Jill really is a jerk to victim-of-teasing Linda and to her brother Kenny all at once, when they are at a bar mitzvah. Kenny has a habit of reciting facts, and Jill, his sister, is getting annoyed:

"...For instance, Louis XIV of France was born with two teeth."
"Nobody's intersted, Kenny!" I said.
"I am," Linda told us. (p. 114)

Note the teeth theme... Not an accident, as the main teasing incidents of the book revolve around eating and weight, and tooth are such a visceral sign of childhood passing.

One last thing. Blume, in this book about misbehaving girls, references the first major misbehaving girl in children's literature, the ground breaking and controversial Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh:

"I wish our school could do a play like the one in Harriet the Spy where everybody pretends to be a different vegetable. I would like to play the onion. I'd roll around the floor the way Harriet did in the book. I wonder if there really are schools where they do that kind of thing?" (p. 150)


The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
To my eye, Riordan is 2 for 2 in his series about ADD kids who actually turn out to be the half-blood children of mortals and Greek gods. Percy, our hero, is the son of Poseidon, and this volume not only continues the saga of The Lightening Thief, but ends with a major cliffhanger. Fun, light, but adventuresome enough to be summer page turners.