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Judy Blume "Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself" - 4.5/5

I was recently reminded of this after a post about the rarity of children's books about Jews that aren't all Holocaust all the time. I remembered loving this as a kid and am pleased that it stands up well to a rereading as an adult. Blume really is a good writer.

This is the story of Sally, a ten-year-old girl who moves from New Jersey to Florida with her mom, brother, and grandma after World War II, because her brother has been ill and winters down south are recommended for people's health. The community they move to seems to be all Jewish and most of the other families are also down there for the winter due to illness.

Not only does Sally have to make new friends, but she also has to adjust to how different things are in the south, such as calling everyone ma'am and sir, and segregation (I love when she writes to her dad, confused about someone who scolded her and her friend for using the colored water fountain, and her dad says it's good that she's questioning these things, but tells her it's not that different up north, people are just quieter about it, and as an example asks her how many black kids were in her old school in New Jersey).

The other main thread is Sally's wild imagination (including her deciding a strange old man who lives in their apartment building is Hitler in disguise) and how she misunderstands things she hears grown-ups talking about (reading this as an adult, it's much more amusing to see the things that fly over Sally's head).

If you never read this as a kid, or even if you did, I highly recommend checking it out. It's definitely a fun (and very quick) read.


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