Tiger Eyes: Judy Blume visits Vinegar Hill Theatre for screening of her first film

Beloved YA author Judy Blume and her son Lawrence promote their new film Tiger Eyes, based off her 1981 novel. Blume will be in attendance at the screening this Sunday at Vinegar Hill Theatre. Photo courtesy of the Montclair Film Festival. Beloved YA author Judy Blume and her son Lawrence promote their new film Tiger Eyes, based off her 1981 novel. Blume will be in attendance at the screening this Sunday at Vinegar Hill Theatre. Photo courtesy of the Montclair Film Festival.

I first got the run down on how babies are made from Kim Blodgett in whispers on the kickball field when I was seven. I thought my friend must be poorly misinformed (and possibly a little disturbed) until the technicalities of sex and puberty and changing hormones were eventually confirmed in our fifth grade health class. But the emotional realities of teendom—friendship, crushes, bullying, family dynamics—I learned from Judy Blume.

My girlfriends and I would pass well-worn library copies of her novels to each other on the schoolbus, wondering if our parents, teachers, and librarians had any idea what was really written on those pages. I read Just as Long as We’re Together four times back to back, and in middle school I got my hands on Summer Sisters, which was so juicy I dog-earred the sexy scenes and read them aloud, between giggles, at slumber parties.

I was not the only giddy pre-teen affected by Judy Blume’s thick catalogue of Young-Adult fiction—Blume has been publishing bestsellers since 1969, selling more than 82 million copies in nearly three dozen languages. Her writing has penetrated The New York Times Bestseller List and popular culture (Chelsea Handler has Blume to thank for the title of her memoir, Are you There Vodka? It’s me, Chelsea), and stirred up controversy and more than a few book bans for “objectionable sexual content.”  Five of her titles have even made the American Library Association’s list of 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books.

Blume has been a trailblazer of her genre since she began writing more than four decades ago, bravely exploring racism (Iggie’s House), divorce (It’s Not the End of the World), masturbation (Deenie), and teen sex (Forever), and challenging assumptions about the maturity and emotional capacity of her young readers. Her response to criticism and censorship has always been that parents should “let children read whatever they want and then talk about it with them. If parents and kids can talk together, we won’t have as much censorship because we won’t have as much fear.”

Remarkably, none of Blume’s books has been adapted to film until now.

Tiger Eyes, adapted from her 1981 novel of the name, will run at the Vinegar Hill Theatre June 16-23, and Blume will be in attendance at the double screening this Sunday. The film was co-written, produced, and directed by her son, Lawrence Blume, who told Time Magazine he had wanted to adapt Tiger Eyes to screen since he first read it as a teenager. The story follows Davey, played by model/actress Willa Holland (of The O.C. and Gossip Girl fame), as she struggles to navigate high school, family life, and love after her father’s murder.

The author will take questions and sign books beginning at 3pm, before the 4pm screening, and again following the 7pm screening. Crozet’s Over the Moon Bookstore will sell copies onsite of many of Blume’s best-loved titles, and if time permits, the author will sign one old favorite brought from home. But only one, otherwise Blume could be there all night.

Tickets to the screenings are limited and can be preordered through Visulite’s website or in person at the theater.

Sunday 6/16 $10.50, 3-5:45pm, 7-9:30pm Vinegar Hill Theatre, 220 Market St. 977-4911.

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