Judy Blume’s Freckle Juice is a book for young readers who have recently discovered the joys of reading and want a book with illustrations and a plot with a funny and absurd premise. Those looking for greater depth, character development and deeper lessons to think about should skip it all together.
There are enough light moments in the story of a young boy named Andrew Marcus to make the book an enjoyable one for undemanding readers, but it’s not one that you would keep in your bookshelf and reread.
Now there were a few things that I liked about the book. One of which is the fact that in most books, kids give a lot of importance to their appearance and acceptance by others, while here Andrew wants to have freckles all over his face and neck. And when that doesn’t happen, he draws them! There is focus on appearance but not on looking good.
There are many such silly actions by the kids in the story that will appeal to young readers.
Now you must be wondering why Andrew is so fascinated by freckles, well he hates washing up well before school while his mother makes him do it. So he reasons that if he has spotted skin like one of his classmates, his mum won’t know how dirty he actually is and then he won’t have to wash up and not be late for school.
Andrew is not just silly enough to reason this way, but he also falls for the scam his enemy in class, Sharon, sells him. He easily pays fifty cents for a secret freckle juice recipe that Sharon swears will bring on lovely red freckles on him. And I didn’t understand why he didn’t call her out for tricking him when he doesn’t get spotty and takes great pains to draw spots all over himself with a magic marker.
In doing so he lets her get away with the deception and then his freckle-covered friend wants her to give him a secret recipe that will take away all his spots.
It kind of bugged me that Andrew was so silly and did things as a result of some absurd logic. And Sharon’s meanness should have been punished in some way by the end, but it sadly isn’t.
The only message or meaning I could make out from the story was that people should accept themselves the way they are and not try to be like someone else.
Published in Dawn, Young World, August 17th, 2019