Dear Judy Blume Diary,
Remember how I wrote about how Judy Blume’s lack of a Newbery is astonishing?
A commenter then asked which Judy Blume book showed literary merit.
It has been made clear to me before that I do not see eye-to-eye with many bloggers about what constitues literary merit.
Many people seem to think literary merit equals use of similes and such. Similes, like wasabi, are fine when used carefully. But they aren’t nearly as important as dialogue that rings so true you never question it.
I believe literary merit is the ability to tell a story so that it grabs a reader and doesn’t let go until the last page. This seems double true for kidlit.
And who does it better than Judy Blume? Take a look at Sally J. Freedman’s first trip to a school cafeteria:
“Is the food any good?” she asked Barbara, looking around. It was hot and noisy.
Barbara stuck out her tongue and pointed her thumbs down. “But you’re lucky … today’s spaghetti …. it could have been meat loaf and that really rots.”
“I don’t like spaghetti,” Sally said. “Can I get something else?”
“Are you kidding? You take what they give you … just tell the woman behind the counter you want a small portion … ”
“A small portion, please,” Sally said, when it was her turn, but the woman behind the counter dumped a load on her plate anyway.
One Newbery, please!
Compare this to TITLE REDACTED which did win the Newbery. One is TRUE and one is a load of overwritten hogwash.
That which is not TRUE has no literary merit.