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 cousin), Sheila Tubman.
Originally, the book featured illustrations by Roy Doty, but all post 2002 reprints of the book have omitted the pictures.
The story focuses on a nine-year-old boy named Peter Warren Hatcher and his relationship with his two-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 chronicles 9-year-old Peter Hatcher's infuriation with the horrendous behavior demonstrated by his annoying 2-year-old brother Fudge, which frequently goes unpunished. Peter becomes frustrated with Fudge because he often disturbs Dribble, Peter's pet turtle which Peter won at his friend's birthday party. Furthermore, his little brother throws nonstop temper tantrums, goes through a finicky phase of abstaining from eating altogether, and emulates his brother'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 (Chapter 4), vandalizing Peter's group homework assignment (Chapter 7), and taking off on his family at a movie theater (Chapter 9). However, one day, to Peter's absolute misery, he returns home to discover Dribble's disappearance 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, 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 – The protagonist of the story, and a smart, assertive, but seemingly naive 9-year-old boy. Most of the novel 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 his little brother'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 his little brother very much and shows concern when he is hospitalized (after swallowing Peter's 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 Warren comes home with a dog for Peter for being "a good sport" and to compensate for the loss.
Fudge – 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. Fudge 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 of the book, Fudge (somehow) eats Peter's turtle, Dribble, whole, killing it. Fudge is hospitalized, and the doctors are able to help Fudge vomit up the turtle's remains. Fudge is often perceived as a pest by his older brother, but he looks up to him 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 Fudge sometime cause problems for Peter; for example, when Fudge jumps off a 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 a school project of Peter's, Anne spanked Fudge, 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 novel, 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 Fudge's head. Fudge commences eating, once again, after the cereal incident.
Jimmy Fargo – Peter's best friend. He and Peter hang around together, but share an equal dislike for classmate Sheila Tubman. Jimmy, at times seems to resent Fudge, which has given him good reason to be pleased with being an only child, though he is more tolerant of Fudge than Peter is.
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 Sheila, considering her to be a bossy know-it-all who still has cooties. At times, Sheila 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"). Sheila is sometimes allowed to help babysit Fudge. She has an older sister named Libby. It is hinted at, however briefly, that Sheila may have a slight crush on Peter, although because of their bickering it is not evident.