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Judy Blume brings coming-of-age tale ‘Tiger Eyes’ to the big screen

Judy Blume will appear two screenings her film 'Tiger Eyes' Chicago arethis weekend.

Judy Blume will appear at two screenings of her film "Tiger Eyes" in the Chicago area this weekend.

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Judy Blume

Saturday

“Tiger Eyes” screenings, followed by Q and A and book signing with Judy Blume

† 2 p.m., Tivoli Theater, 5021
Highland Ave., Downers Grove. Tickets available via Anderson’s Book Store, andersons bookshop.com

† 7:35 p.m., Muvico Rosemont 18, 9701 Bryn Mawr Ave., Rosemont (muvico.com)

Sunday

Conversation with Judy Blume followed by book signing

† Chicago Tribune
Printers Row Lit Fest

† 2 p.m. Sunday

† Harold Washington Library, 404 S. State, St., Chicago

† Sold out

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There are best-selling authors, and then there’s Judy Blume.

Since her first novel “Iggie’s House” was published in 1970, Blume has sold an outrageous number of books, more than 80 million, including the celebrated coming-of-age tales “Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret,” “Forever” and “Blubber.”

Despite her popularity, none of the stories made it to the big screen until Friday when “Tiger Eyes” hits select theaters, iTunes and on demand. An independent film based on her 1981 book of the same name, “Tiger Eyes” is about a teenage girl adjusting to a new life in New Mexico after her father’s violent death.

“There just wasn’t ever the right person, the right time, the right place,” said Blume, who will be in the Chicago area this weekend promoting the movie and accepting the 2013 Chicago Tribune Young Adult Literary Prize at the Printers Row Lit Fest, of why her books were never made into movies. “I’m glad we waited until now.”

Blume, 75, who lives in Key West, Fla., and her son, Lawrence Blume, co-wrote the screenplay for “Tiger Eyes,” which stars Willa Holland of “The O.C.” and “Gossip Girl.”

Lawrence Blume directed the feature, which was made in 23 days in 2011 with a $3 million budget, with little earmarked for promotion. The film’s marketing is almost all Judy Blume’s personal promotion, and she’s targeting her largely female fan base.

“We have no choice,” she said. “We have to count on Twitter and Facebook and my wonderful, loyal friends who grew up with my books.”

In an era where youth-targeted fiction series like “Harry Potter,” “Twilight” and “The Hunger Games” are earning hundreds of millions of dollars for publishers and movie studios, it’s surprising that Blume’s books haven’t previously reached an on-screen audience. Some critics wondered if life for today’s youth is more complicated than the stories in Blume’s books, which feature everyteen coming-of-age moments like menstruation, masturbation and losing your virginity in an era before Oprah Winfrey was talking about the prevalence of oral sex among teenagers on her talk show.

“I think [life] has always been complicated for kids,” Blume said in response to one critic’s assessment that her books are less appealing to today’s tweens and teens than those who read her books in the 1970s and 1980s. “Life is complicated. I don’t care how old you are.”

Blume doesn’t read the best-selling vampire-filled, dystopian, best-selling young adult novels currently in vogue. She did listen to an audio version of “The Hunger Games” (she liked it) and is a fan of Jennifer Lawrence.

“I certainly welcome all kinds of books,” she said. “I think the more choices all readers have, the better. Sure, if they want to read dystopian fiction, if they want to read werewolves and zombies, great. I would never knock that. That’s not my interest. My interest is now and always has been real-life stories.”

Stories that never go out of style, she said.

“Fads are cyclical,” she said. “I’ve been around a long time. I remember stories of the death of the young adult novel. Look at today’s market. Young adult is the most profitable department of any publishing house.”

For parents who want to introduce Blume’s books to their children, she has some advice:

“Just don’t tell them that you loved them,” she said.



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