Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself

by Judy Blume

Ebook, 2012



Call number

PB Blu

Call number

PB Blu

Local notes

PB Blu




Delacorte Books for Young Readers (2012), Kindle Edition, 385 pages


While spending the winter of 1947-48 in Miami Beach with her family, ten-year-old Sally makes up stories, casts herself in starring roles in movies, and encounters a sinister stranger.


Nebraska Golden Sower Award (Nominee — 1981)


Original publication date


User reviews

LibraryThing member spacepotatoes
One of my reading goals this year was to reread some my old favourites. I read my share of Judy Blume books way back when and Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself (along with Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret) has stayed with me. I was curious how the story would hold up over time and if I’d
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still be able to appreciate what I loved about it the first time.

The story is set in 1947, when Sally is ten years old. The Freedmans – Sally, younger brother Douglas, their mother and grandmother - relocate from New Jersey to Miami so that Douglas can recuperate from an illness. Sally has to negotiate a new home, a new school, new friends, a tense relationship with her mother, missing her father, and spying on their elderly neighbour whom Sally is convinced is really Hitler is disguise. With all of this going on, it’s no wonder I always remembered this book being much thicker than it actually is!

The thing that struck me most in rereading this story is how dark it actually is when you’re old/mature enough to realize what all of the subtext is referring to. Sally’s grandmother has relatives that were killed in Dachau, Sally often plays games of make-believe where she is a spy in Germany on a mission to capture Hitler, and in the snippets of phone conversation between Sally’s parents, an adult reader will recognize that there are more serious issues in their marriage than the kids are led to believe. I don’t think any of these things are necessarily inappropriate for younger readers, though I do think that if I was a parent, I’d want to be aware of these topics and be prepared to discuss them with my child if they came up. In all likelihood, it may not come up; I was a fairly mature reader when I was in the tween/early teen stage and I don’t remember picking up on all of this.

Another thing that struck me, and I have found this in re-watching some of my old favourite movies as well, is that I now tend to see things from the grown-up characters’ perspectives than the kids. In this case, I felt for Mr. Freedman and really wanted to give Mrs. Freedman’s head a shake. Ma Fanny (the grandmother) was great.

The story is entertaining and as it turns out, is semi-autobiographical. I can’t say I loved it as much this time around but it did bring back some fond memories.
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LibraryThing member delphica
(#44 in the 2005 book challenge)

This one was for book club. Wow, I forgot that Judy Blume is a famous writer for a reason. I tend to forget because her adult books are so bad, and a lot of her kids books are so dated, but when she's on, she's really on. This is the most autobiographical of her
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books. Ten year old Sally and her family move from NJ to Miami Beach for the winter, the year after WWII has ended. Sally is a pip, she's obsessed with Hollywood movie stars and Hitler. This isn't really heavyweight stuff, but it's a fun story.

Grade: A-
Recommended: Excellent for the age 8-12 girls set, it's also a neat story of a very particular Jewish-American experience. Unlike some of her other books, this one has aged very gracefully.
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LibraryThing member abbylibrarian
One of my childhood favorites, this book tells the story of Sally J. Freedman who is ten years old in 1947. She moves with her mom, grandma, and brother from New Jersey to Miami Beach for the winter because her brother has been ill. Although things aren't great at first, she tries to be brave and
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look at the move as an adventure, but she misses her father and finds some things about Florida hard to get used to.

Sally is one of my best literary friends and she's a great character to get to know!
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LibraryThing member Peguses
A wonderful book! I highly recomend this book to all whom are 10-13. Delightfuly funny Sally Freedman and all her adventures while she is wintering in florida, and discovering
all the amazing trouble a girl with a big imagination and a natural talent for trouble.
LibraryThing member Runa
This was always one of my favorite books by Judy Blume. I'm sure others would pick Are You There, God, but this is the one I found most relatable and interesting. I was stunned to realize that Sally is only 10 (this must be my third or fourth time reading it and I just now caught it *headdesk*).
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She has her moments of immaturity, but I went through the book thinking she was at least 13. No matter the age, though, I'm sure plenty of children can relate to her. This is a historical fiction book, but the way it reads, you really couldn't tell. There are references to WWII being over and Hitler, but it's still just another girl living her day-to-day life. The characters are all lovely and Sally talks to them in a very engaging way, letting us know simultaneously about her world and theirs. The one nitpicky comment I have about this book is the excessive use of ellipses. Too many conversations had those triple dot-dot-dots and it did mess with my concentration at times.

Rating: 5/5
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LibraryThing member ehansman
How did you feel when you just moved to a new place? Well, Sally Freedman had a hard time to find her way in Miami Beach, Florida. They were just sooooooooooo happy that the world war was over, but that doesn't make Sally think that a really nice man in the neighborhood is Adolf Hitler. She has
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Horror thoughts about him!
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LibraryThing member bpinchot40
This is a really good book about a little girl and her family going to flordia in the winter due to her brother's Nemphritis.
LibraryThing member aimless22
Judy Blume calls this her most autobiographical story. An interesting childhood it must have been. Just after the end of WWII, all the family, except the father, move to Miami Beach for the winter months. THe two children change schools, must make new friends, must learn to live together in a small
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Sally makes her new friends as well as enemies, She also makes up stories in her head, including one in which she casts the local "crazy man" as Adolf Hitler in hiding.
An active imagination in yougn Sally.
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LibraryThing member KellyBonner
This is an early Judy Blume book about a 10 year old girl living in post war America. It is a great book for children around and under the puberty stage. This book reminds me of my sister and how much she enjoyed reading this book over and over again.
LibraryThing member lycomayflower
A book I read three or four (or more?) times when I was a kid. Stumbled across it in a used book shop this past week and couldn't leave it there. A good exploration of early adolescence and the ways adults keep secrets from children as well as an interesting (remembered) snapshot of American
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childhood immediately post-WWII. I had remembered that Sally was Jewish and that that was important in some ways to the story, but I was surprised on this adult reread to see how many details of growing up Jewish at that time there are in the book. It really added another layer of interest for me this time.
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LibraryThing member CarmenMilligan
This is a cute book for young adults. It reminded me so much of Romona and Beezus. Very cute.
LibraryThing member Cheryl_in_CC_NV
I never read Blume as a child. I don't know if it's because our very small library didn't stock it (controversy? shelf space?) or they did, and I simply wasn't interested. So, when this offered to me, I figured I'd try it, see what I was missing.

Well, if this is one of the ones that gets banned,
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the morality police really need to get a life. Perhaps, when originally written, mention of a bathroom that looks like bordello would have shocked, but, after all, bordello is not defined - so the book may have taught some children the value of a dictionary....

In any case, to judge the story itself, meh. Some slightly interesting characters and episodes - but so many of both that we didn't really get to know them, to feel for them. I do have a sense that some young girls will empathize enough to reread it, and put part of themselves into it, and therefore enjoy it more. But I just couldn't bring myself to care.
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LibraryThing member murderbydeath
Part of my Judy Blume re-reading marathon, Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself is another book that holds up well to decades-later re-reads. I'll admit Sally isn't my favourite Blume character: she's a romantic and a hyper-imaginative child growing up in an era absolutely drowning in fodder for
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her "stories". But everything that surrounds her is interesting to me and I still identified with a child that was trying to figure out the world around her on her own, relying on context instead of the uncooperative adults she's surrounded by.

Judy Blume said herself that this book had more autobiographical elements to it than any of her other books. It's time frame of 1947-1948 is certainly the earliest of any of her children's books. Sally's father is a dentist, her mother a housewife. They live in a big house in suburban New Jersey until Sally's brother suffers a prolonged illness, nudging the family into renting an apartment in Miami Beach, FL for the winter so that he can recuperate in a warm climate.

This setup is a perfect vehicle for many themes as Sally is taken out of her very sheltered, homogenised environment for the first time: Her father stays in NJ to continue working, only visiting on holidays and she makes friends with a girl at school whose father was killed in the war, so parental separation/death is touched on, though lightly.

Sally befriends a black family on the train, only to find them gone when she wakes up; moved to a "black only" car as the train moves into the South. She and a friend are rather violently yanked away from a water fountain at the dime store and scolded by a stranger for drinking from the "black" water fountain. Sally questions these actions as much as a 10 year old realistically would; it's clear that Ms. Blume feels the inherent wrongness of racial distinctions. She keeps true to time, place, and age but it's frustrating to see the answers given to her by her parents.

Overall, Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself is an intriguing time-capsule of an era we've long left behind but still affects us, told from the point of view of a 10 year old girl. It's probably not my favourite of Blume's books, but it's definitely one I'll keep on the shelves and re-visit once in awhile.
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½ (298 ratings; 3.8)
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