Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
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|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
|LC Class||PZ7.B6265 Tal|
|Followed by||Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great|
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing is a children's novel written by American author Judy Blume and published in 1972. It is the first in the Fudge Series and was followed by Superfudge, Fudge-a-Mania, and most recently by Double Fudge. Although Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great features many of the same characters as the series, it does not fit exactly in the continuity of it because it only focuses on Peter's classmate (who later becomes his marital cousin), Sheila Tubman.
Originally, the book featured illustrations by Roy Doty, but all post-2002 reprints of it have omitted the pictures.
The story focuses on a nine-year-old boy named Peter Warren Hatcher and his relationship with his two-and-a-half-year-old brother, Farley Drexel "Fudge" Hatcher. Farley hates the sound of his legal name, and prefers Fudge for any and all occasions.
The book focuses on 9-year-old 4th grader Peter Hatcher's frustration with the horrendous behavior demonstrated by his annoying 2½-year-old brother, Fudge, who frequently goes unpunished. Peter becomes frustrated with Fudge because he often disturbs Dribble, Peter's pet turtle, which Peter won at his best friend Jimmy Fargo's birthday party. Furthermore, Fudge throws nonstop temper tantrums, goes through a finicky phase of abstaining from eating altogether, and emulates Peter's behavior, throwing tantrums if it is prohibited. Nevertheless, their parents dote on Fudge, to Peter's anger.
For months, Fudge's antics continue; breaking his front teeth after catapulting himself from the jungle gym at the local playground when he decides to fly, vandalizing Peter's group homework assignment , and taking off on his family at a movie theater (Chapter 9: Just Another Rainy Day). However, one day, to Peter's absolute misery, he returns home to discover Dribble is missing from his bowl, Fudge claiming to have swallowed him. These proclamations prove to be correct, and Fudge is rushed to the hospital, where Dribble is safely extracted, to Mrs. Hatcher's relief. However, Dribble has died in Fudge's stomach (how exactly the turtle died was never explained), and no one, especially Fudge, seems to care. Peter is incredibly devastated over the loss of his beloved pet, however, his parents sympathetically compensate by adopting a dog, which Peter appropriately names "Turtle" in memory of Dribble.
Peter Warren Hatcher – The protagonist of the story, and a smart, assertive, but seemingly naive 9-year-old boy. Most of the book focuses upon his relationship with Fudge and his family, and the fact that Fudge is the perceived source of all of his troubles. His parents usually seem to let Fudge get away with anything and everything, something that he would later realize was not always true. But it is true that Peter's needs and wants are often ignored and overshadowed in favor of Fudge's.
Peter believes that his parents show Fudge preferential treatment, especially his mother; he also is frequently frustrated when Fudge gets into his things and tries to become involved in his activities. However, Peter does love him very much and shows concern when he is hospitalized (after swallowing Peter's pet turtle, Dribble) and the doctors speculate that they may need to operate on him. Peter is upset at first when he learns that Dribble is dead, and then again is jealous when he sees Fudge get showered with attention and gifts when he comes home, but then his father comes home with a dog for Peter for being "a good sport" and to compensate for the loss.
Farley Drexel "Fudge" Hatcher – Peter's younger brother, whom he often resents. At the beginning of the book, Fudge (a nickname for his much-despised legal name, Farley Drexel) is two years old, and turns three in Chapter 5. He is a very loud, demanding, and mischievous toddler who is prone to violent temper tantrums. He has a very active imagination, and others – including Sheila Tubman and the wife of one of his father's clients – adore him. In the final chapter, he (somehow) eats Peter's pet turtle, Dribble, whole, killing him. He is hospitalized, and the doctors are able to help him defecate out Dribble's remains. He is often perceived as a pest by Peter, but Fudge looks up to Peter and eventually Peter realizes the bond they have.
Anne Hatcher – The mother of Peter and Fudge, and wife of Warren. A caring mother, she shows love and devotion to her family and is very protective of Fudge. Her sometimes over-protective ways with him sometime cause problems for Peter; for example, when Fudge jumps off the jungle gym at the playground (believing he is a bird that will land safely), she screeches at Peter, holding him solely responsible and not even listening to his side of the story. However, she is quick to apologize for her snappy judgments, and later admits she got overly emotional with the aftermath of Fudge's flying experience and took it out on Peter. Another time when Fudge ruined Peter's school project, she spanked him, which surprised even Peter (up to this he believed everyone thought Fudge can do no wrong), but Anne remarks Fudge is at a point where he knew better than that.
Warren Hatcher – The father of Peter and Fudge, and husband of Anne. He works at an unnamed advertising agency, whose major clients in Tales are with Juicy-O (a fruit beverage that the Hatchers find rather noxious-tasting) and Toddle Bike (a manufacturer of plastic toy tricycles a la the Big Wheel and Green Machine); Fudge is hired for a commercial for the latter product. Although most of Warren's clients are happy with his work and company, he also had his share of failures, such as losing the Juicy-O account. A loving father who wants what is best for his family, he is more conservative in rearing his sons than Anne, particularly with Fudge. For example, at one point in the book, when Fudge was going through a stage where he refused to eat at the table, Anne was worried sick over this. Warren finally settled the issue by saying "eat it or wear it", and when Fudge refused, he dumped a bowl of corn flakes over his head. He begins eating, once again, after the cereal incident.
Dribble – Peter's pet turtle, which he won at his best friend Jimmy's birthday party. Dribble is always annoyed by Fudge, which has led him to be swallowed whole by Fudge, killing him. Afterwards, Peter gets a dog and names him Turtle, so he'll never forget Dribble
Sheila Tubman – Classmate of Peter and Jimmy, who lives with her family in the same apartment building as the Hatchers. Peter is annoyed at the very thought of her, considering her to be a bossy know-it-all who still has cooties. At times, she does assert herself by trying to control a school project she, Peter, and Jimmy were assigned to work on together (although their efforts are rewarded with an "A"). She is sometimes allowed to help babysit Fudge. She has an older sister named Libby, who's a twelve year old in seventh grade, and takes a babysitting class. It is hinted at, however briefly, that she may have a slight crush on Peter, although because of their bickering it is not evident.
Jimmy Fargo- Peter's best friend, who had a birthday party in the first chapter, and Peter won his pet turtle Dribble. They have a special rock collection in the park, and they hate Sheila Tubman, their annoying classmate, who's obsessed with cooties. They can't stand working on a school project with her.
Chapter 1: The Big Winner= Peter wins his pet turtle Dribble at his friend Jimmy Fargo's birthday party, and shows it to everyone
Chapter 2: Mr. and Mrs. Juicy O= Peter's dad's boss, Mr. Yarby and his wife stay with the Hatchers, and Fudge misbehaves
Chapter 3: The Family Dog= Fudge stops eating, and everyone tries to come up with ideas to get his appetite back
Chapter 4: My Brother The Bird= When Peter, Jimmy, and Sheila go to the park to look after Fudge, he falls off the jungle gym and loses his two front teeth
Chapter 5: The Birthday Bash= When Fudge turns three, he has a birthday party, but it turns out to be a lot of work for Peter
Chapter 6: Fang Hits Town= Fudge misbehaves when he, Peter, and their mother spend the Saturday together
Chapter 7: The Flying Train Committee= Peter, Jimmy, and Sheila work on a school project together based on Transportation
Chapter 8: The T.V. Star= Fudge is chosen to ride the Toddle Bike in a commercial
Chapter 9: Just Another Rainy Day= Peter, Fudge, and their father head to the movies, where Fudge goes missing
Chapter 10: Dribble= When Fudge swallows Peter's turtle Dribble, he gets a dog at the end and names him Turtle, so he'll never forget Dribble