Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing

Book review by
Barbara Schultz, Common Sense Media
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing Book Poster Image
Toddler antics bug brother, amuse readers in 1st Fudge book.
Parents recommend

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 3 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Judy Blume's Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing shows readers a little about family life and gender roles in New York City in the early 1970s. The book is also somewhat enlightening for older kids who are about to become older brothers or sisters -- they'll get a humorous look at what it's like to have a 3-year-old sibling. Trips to the dentist and the hospital reveal a few medical facts, as well.

Positive Messages

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing offers an honest, funny look at family life and two brothers' sibling rivalry/relationship. The message here is that being an older brother can be hard, and parents sometimes lose their patience, but everyone does their best and they all still love each other.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Peter and Fudge's parents struggle with the best ways to handle the random irrationality of Fudge's 3-year-old moods and still support Peter. Sometimes they lose their patience with their sons. However, they always have the boys' best interests at heart, and they apologize when they know they've reacted to a situation unfairly. Peter provides a good role model for Fudge; he's often reluctant to be ruled by Fudge's whims, but he's generally helpful and understands that his little brother looks up to him.

Violence

In Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, there's some accidental violence when Fudge falls after trying to fly like a bird from the top of a climbing structure; and one kid guest at Fudge's birthday party bites.

Sex
Language
Consumerism

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing mentions visiting Bloomingdale's and a restaurant called Hamburger Heaven. The dad in this book, Mr. Hatcher, works in an ad agency, but his clients are fictitious companies (Juicy-O and Toddle-Bike).

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Mr. Vincent, one of Mr. Hatcher's ad-agency clients, smokes a cigar.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 11 year old Written byannmariehutter January 1, 2013

excellent

helps deal with family situations
Adult Written byLowe's man January 21, 2014

a terrific read

Gender roles are indeed outdated, but children and parents need to know that this book was written in 1972, when conceptions of gender roles were just starting... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old June 30, 2013

A Really Good Book!!!!

This Book is Really Good For Kids 8 & up!!! I Really Liked How It Described Every Little Detail of What was Happening and It has a Very Good Lesson at T... Continue reading

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?

Book details

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