Wednesday, July 27, 2011
CR Review #22: The Fudge Books by Judy Blume
My soon-to-be second grader is on a reading tear these days. We've been trying to think of good books for her to read, as she is becoming awfully bored with Junie B Jones…and while we were on our vacation recently, my husband ran into the local book store and picked up Tales of Fourth Grade Nothing, remembering how much he had liked it when he read it. She devoured it and we soon ordered the complete set of books about Fudge: Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great, SuperFudge, Fudge-A-Mania, and Double Fudge. I decided to read them at the same time (and since I got through each one in about 90 minutes, I'll count the whole set as one book), just in case there was anything in them that might not be age-appropriate for a 7-year-old.
In case you don't remember, the plot of these books is as follows:
Peter Hatcher (the Fourth Grade Nothing in the first book), lives in New York City with his parents and his little brother Farley Drexel (aka Fudge), and later his baby sister Tootsie. Their neighbor is Sheila Tubman (whose family stars in the second book of the series). Fudge is a bit of a terror. Over the course of the books he finds new and ridiculous ways to get in trouble and embarrass his brother and family: he knocks out his front teeth pretending to be a bird, he throws tantrums in stores when he doesn't get what he wants, he is asked to leave restaurants because of the mess he makes, he swallows a turtle (yes, really), he runs away, and just finds new and interesting ways to be a complete and total pain for Peter.
I had fond memories of these books (I used to think Fudge was hilarious and Peter was the pain) and I was glad to read these alongside my daughter, as she did have a few questions while she made her way through them. In Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great, a bunch of girls have a sleepover and make "slam books" -- a term I haven't heard used in ages. I had to explain why sometimes girls try to hurt each others feelings…an introduction to the mean girls syndrome. One of the books flat-out announces the truth about Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, which my daughter wasn't really ready to read about, but she took the news like a champ (I took her out to our favorite local coffee shop for breakfast to talk about it, which made things easier for her, I hope!). I was kind of surprised to read about Santa in the book, but then I remembered that my daughter is a bit younger than the target age group for these books.
There are funny little updates in the books that have been added since I read them the first time: cd players instead of hi-fi's, kids who watch Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network, etc. But for the most part, they are the way I remembered them. And this time, as the parent of a five-year-old boy, I was grateful to have kids who were nothing like Fudge, and much more like Peter.