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Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing is the first in Judy Blume's "Fudge" series about the Hatcher family: Mr. and Mrs. Hatcher, their older son Peter, and younger son Farley Drexel, whom everyone calls Fudge. The novel takes a humorous but honest view of sibling rivalry, and the challenges of reasoning with an imaginative, stubborn 3-year-old. Fudge's antics annoy his brother and sometimes land him in precarious situations, but Fudge will amuse middle-grade readers. Fudge hurts himself in one incident, bleeding and losing a couple of baby teeth, and he is hospitalized after eating a non-food item; kids might be slightly alarmed by these situations or by adults sometimes losing their tempers (verbally), but the book's humorous tone keeps things light. Note that gender roles are quite outdated, too; Mrs. Hatcher says her husband doesn't know much about caring for children, and he doesn't know how to cook a meal.
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What's the story?
The first book in Judy Blume's "Fudge" series, TALES OF A FOURTH GRADE NOTHING, takes place over several months in the lives of the Hatcher family: Mr. and Mrs. Hatcher and their sons Peter (age 10) and Farley Drexel (age 3), whose nickname is Fudge. Told from Peter's point of view, the book is a series of anecdotes involving Fudge's always funny, sometimes enfuriating 3-year-old antics. Fudge throws tantrums, refuses to eat, defies his parents, messes up his brother's stuff, and generally causes a lot of mischief for such a small person. Peter, meanwhile, is often placed in embarrassing situations because his parents need his help to wrangle their adorable, impossible 3-year-old.
Is it any good?
Judy Blume's Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing will entertain middle-grade readers, especially those who have little brothers or sisters. Blume portrays Fudge in a way that's exaggerated enough to be laugh-out-loud funny but realistic enough to ring true with anyone who's ever tried to reason with a 3-year-old. The Fudge books showcase Blume's wonderful way of creating honest situations and characters that don't skirt family problems but still maintain a humorous, light tone overall.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about sibling relationships. What sorts of things do you argue about with your sibling(s)? What do you like best about your brother or sister?
Why do you think Peter often feels his mother doesn't care as much about him as she does about Fudge? Do you think Peter's parents are unfair to him?
In Peter and Fudge's family, mom does all the cooking and child raising, and dad earns the money. How is the Hatcher family like or different from your family?
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