A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Judy Blume's Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great is the second book in the "Fudge" series. However, this volume focuses on Sheila Tubman, a neighbor of the children at the center of the other Fudge books, Peter and Farley Drexel "Fudge" Hatcher. Sheila is a classmate of Peter's; this novel is set during the summer after fourth grade, when Sheila's family rents a house in Tarrytown, N.Y. Sheila is an extremely fearful child, and much of the novel focuses on experiences where she tries to mask, or has to face, the fears that create big obstacles in her young life. Other than a few kid scrapes and pranks, there are no violent or dangerous situations in the book outside of Sheila's imagination. This is good teaching material for parents of fearful children who are ashamed to admit or face their fears.
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What's the story?
Judy Blume's OTHERWISE KNOWN AS SHEILA THE GREAT is the second book in the author's \"Fudge\" series, most of which focuses on Peter Hatcher and his brother, Farley Drexel \"Fudge\" Hatcher. Sheila Tubman, the protagonist in this book, lives in the same building as the Hatchers and is one of Peter's classmates. This novel tells about the summer after fourth grade, when Sheila's family rents a house in Tarrytown, N.Y. Sheila is an extremely fearful child -- afraid of dogs, thunder, water, etc. -- but when she begins to make new friends in Tarrytown, many of the fears she tries to mask are exposed and she is forced to face them head on, and hope that her new friends will still like her.
Is it any good?
Sheila is a quite believable and lovable character despite -- or maybe because of -- her shortcomings. As in so many of her novels, Judy Blume creates realistic situations that are highly entertaining and teach kids important lessons without ever seeming false or preachy. Kids will identify with Sheila's reluctance to admit how scared she is, or admit that she doesn't know how to do some things other kids can do. Judy Blume has said that she endowed Sheila Tubman with all of her own childhood fears, and maybe that's why this book is so touching and so true.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Sheila's fear of dogs. Do you think her parents do the right things to help her get over this fear? Are you scared of anything the way Sheila is?
How do you think Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great compares with the first book in the "Fudge' series: Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing?
Why do you think Sheila sometimes tells lies to hide her fears? Do you think her friends can tell? What would you do if you were Sheila?
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