Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
We have all been there – or most of us anyway. You are the underappreciated one, and it seems as if your little brother or sister gets all of the attention. Life simply is not fair, and you are the victim. Everyone loves the adorable toddler. If they only knew what a little terror he really is. Judy Blume’s Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, is a light hearted tale that will be readily understood and enjoyed by anyone who knows what it is like to have – or to be – a pesty younger brother. What makes Fudge such an annoyance to his older brother Peter? The only way to find out is to read the book.
Peter is a ten year old boy who is absolutely convinced that life would be so much better without Fudge, his little two and a half year old brother. Peter’s family lives in a New York apartment building by Central Park. Everyday activities somehow turn into adventures with twists, turns, and surprises around every corner. Just when you think everything is normal, Fudge does something again. Whether it is a trip to the park, a mission to find new shoes, a visit to the dentist, or an outing to the movies, Fudge has a way to keep everyone on their toes. From Peter’s point of view, it is always about Fudge: how cute he is, how special he is, how he can never do anything wrong. There are times when you can almost feel Peter’s frustration and angst; Fudge is ruining his life! As the story progresses, however, Peter realizes how much Fudge looks up to him. Maybe Fudge is okay after all. Nah.
Personally, I have two younger brothers, so I can relate to how Peter feels very well. I found it very humorous, yet very real to life, how dramatically Peter reacted to Fudge’s antics. This is probably because I remember reacting the same way at that age. Even the smallest things can seem like the end of the world to a ten year old. I also remember feeling as if my brothers, especially the youngest one, were getting all of the attention, and that no body appreciated me or recognized me. I see a lot of my own qualities in Peter, which made the book that much more real to me. Also, because I want to teach ten to twelve year olds, I find it fascinating to see how their minds process things, and what the world looks like from their perspective. This book does a good job of adding dimension and depth to the characters which enables readers to relate to them. I really enjoyed it.
There are many lessons that can be taught using this book. It would be a good book to read at the fourth grade level because the main character is a fourth grader. Moreover, the reading level would probably be at the right level to challenge children at that age. As far as lessons that can be taken from the book, there is a lot to be said about family dynamics and the relationships between parents, parent to child, and child to child. The relationships between friends are also addressed in the book. Other areas this book covers are loss, dealing with anger, and other issues of good character development. The book would have no problem keeping students’ interest and attention, and it is one I would definitely consider using in my own classroom in the future. - MM