By Judy Blume, Illustrated by Sonia O. Lisker
Published by: Yearling; Reprint edition (July 15, 1978)
Available in: paperback, hardcover, library binding
Freckle Juice is all about wanting something and doing something crazy to get it. The protagonist, a second grade boy, is an empathetic character because almost everyone knows, deep in his bones, how it is to want something to distraction. The fact that Andrew wants freckles, and that he is forced to sit behind a boy with a glorious number of freckles (and thus view them every day in school) is a simple but magnificent premise.
Two other characters in this book stand out: a sweet, understanding teacher, and larcenous, greedy, evil Sharon, who absconds with funds through trickery.
The chapter where poor Andrew drinks the despicable concoction that is supposed to sprout the desired freckles is both hilarious and a fun Don’t do it! moment.
A very short chapter book (only five chapters and 47 pages), this is a good read for an older, less adept reader. With small type and slightly more mature sentence structure, older readers won’t feel babyish reading about Andrew and his freckle obsession and consequences. (In fact, Andrew is “not fast” as a reader, which the struggling reader might appreciate.) The brevity also allows readers to gain confidence as they buzz through the whole book fairly quickly.
Originally published in 1971, this chapter book does suffer from some of the older/tired/out-of-date issues that many classic chapter books exhibit. Andrew’s mom, for instance, has curlers on in the morning and tells him she’s been invited to play cards with the ladies during the day. These little hiccups don’t stop the story, though.
Some of the illustrations and their older clothing and style are a little more obviously outdated. But what is even more bothersome is that the original illustrator, Sonia O. Lisker, is barely given credit, even though many of the copies still sold online, in stores and carried in libraries depict her illustrations. To even find her name I had to look on the copyright page. Otherwise, no credit is given to her. Shame on the houses that have published the reprint editions. The artist deserves credit for her work.
What do you say teachers, parents and writers? Use the comment below and let’s chat….