September 02, 2007

NPR Notes: A Surprise Guest

I guess it was probably only a surprise to me, since I so rarely catch Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me! on NPR on the weekend (not because I dislike it--quite the opposite--but because I'm not usually driving around town as much, which is my prime NPR listening time). Anyway, on my way back from the grocery store I caught the first part of this week's episode, which included an appearance by the fabulous and hilarious Judy Blume.

She said a few words about how she made some updates to perennial favorites the Fudge series and Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret in order to better reflect modern-day technology and such. The Fudge series, for instance, included references to mimeograph machines (barely still in use when I was reading those books), while for Margaret, Blume changed out the parts that referred to belts for maxi pads. I remember having to ask my mom about belts, and her telling me they used those when she was growing up. So anyway, these changes seemed to be of Blume's own free will--as she put it, she wants kids to read these books and feel like she's written them for them--kids of the current generation.

I think this is an acceptable change--both the reasoning behind it, and the fact that the author herself wanted to make the changes. I'd be interested to hear what you all think...Do you think this is the beginning of the end? Is the Great Gatsby next? Is Nick what's-his-face the narrator going to be driving an Audi TT out to East Egg in the next edition of the book? Alternatively, do you think that, within reason and with authorial approval, classic children's or YA books should be tweaked so that the story doesn't jump out as outdated to a modern audience?

1 comment:

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

I think these tweaks are just fine for children's books when the goals of the books are to help children deal with specific issues. Blume wants the books to feel current, and that's okay by me. It's not as if Mildred Lee Taylor's or Sydney Taylor's books set in specific time periods are going to be tweaked so that Cassie rollerblades to school or Ella takes the subway to her father's shop.