Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great
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|Cover artist||Roy Doty|
|Media type||Print Paperback|
|LC Class||PZ7.B6265 Ot|
|Preceded by||Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing|
The book centers on Sheila Tubman, a ten-year-old girl who masks her insecurities with a much more self-assured, confident persona.In truth, she suffers from fears ranging from arachnophobia (fear of spiders and other arachnids), cynophobia (fear of dogs), and aquaphobia (fear of water).
Her family decides to spend the summertime in Tarrytown, New York, where she is enrolled at a day camp and meets Merle "Mouse" Ellis, an easygoing, courageous, and slightly tomboyish girl skilled with her unlimited knowledge of yo-yo tricks. To Sheila's dismay, the family that owns the house in which they are staying owns a dog named Jennifer that she deeply fears and avoids, and her troubles increase when they learn of Jennifer's pregnancy and the desires of Sheila's sister Libby to adopt one of the puppies. Aside from these factors, Sheila is enlisted in swimming lessons (to her chagrin) and single-handedly starts a camp newspaper (ending with resignation after having forgotten to devise a reward for the winners of her camp crossword puzzle), even painting the backdrop of the camp's production of Peter Pan (in which Libby plays Captain Hook, to her misery).
Sheila believes that her fearless masquerade is effective, but her beliefs are proven false after the guests at her sleepover party write otherwise in a slam book activity. Despite the brawl that ensues between the agitated girls, devastated by the insults written in each other's books, their friendship, nevertheless, continues, and Sheila slowly overcomes her fears (albeit not entirely) little by little. As the summer draws to a close with a barbecue party, she is unshaken at the thought of her family's adoption of a puppy, and realizes that she enjoyed her vacation after all.
Sheila is also a character in the Fudge series. Other than brief anecdotes, Peter and his dog, Turtle, are the only members of the Hatcher family to appear in the book. They appear in the first chapter, and are mentioned by Sheila several times in the story. She also briefly mentions Peter's brother, Fudge, though not by name.
Sheila Tubman-the main protagonist who's excited about being in Tarrytown for the summer, but has many fears, and has a hard time admitting those fears to people
Libby Tubman- Sheila's thirteen year old sister, who's a ballerina and is boy crazy
Merle "Mouse" Ellis- Sheila's friend in Tarrytown, who is the junior champion of yo-yoing. She's a champion swimmer, and a dog lover
Betsy Ellis- Mouse's four year old sister, who's also a champion swimmer. Since she's allergic to dogs, she has a make-believe dog called Ootch
Sondra and Jane Van Arden- The Van Arden twins, who are good friends with Sheila and Mouse. They both are very excellent swimmers and both get easily offended. They all argue at a sleepover.
Marty- Sheila's swimming teacher, who struggles to work with Sheila because of her fear of the water
Judy Blume dedicated the book to her father and her mother.
The post-2002 reprints of this book have some lines edited and a bit of new content added to update the technology use in it (for instance, record players are replaced with CD players, and the camp's copier keeps malfunctioning, which is why Sheila must use a mimeograph machine, whereas the original had them already still using their mimeograph machine and not having a copier yet).