Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing -

Book Review

Tales of a fourth grade nothing
Author: Judy Blume
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Puffin (April 5, 2007)
ISBN-10: 0142408816
ISBN-13: 978-0142408810

First in a series of five Fudge books, Judy Blumes’s Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing is a timeless story revealing trials and tribulation of sibling rivalry. Blume takes the scenario of “good kid” “bad kid” and turns it into enlightening prose. Peter Hatcher is nine years old and must deal with little brother Farley’s (aka “Fudge”) repulsive cuteness and constant meddling among other serious offenses, which are almost too much for Peter to bear at times.

All of these enlivening episodes are dealt with big-hearted humor from Blume. Fudge is lively and has limited vocabulary as most three-year olds do. His two most over-used words are “No” and “Mine”. It’s pretty hard for Peter to communicate rights of ownership when Fudge cannot comprehend. Everything is theirs for the taking: like leaping from large rocks; throwing temper tantrums in shoe stores; and refusing to eat until Peter stands on his head.

Each chapter in this book is a small vignette of daily interactions and adventures between Peter and Fudge. As the story progresses, you may think poor Peter, will he ever get a break? Peter is understandably jealous of the amount of attention his little brother gets but at least when he is allowed to get a pet turtle named Dribble, Peter feels a small sense of comfort. However, when Fudge ends up breaking his own two front teeth after flying off a rock, which is his own fault, Peter’s mother takes her anger out on Peter. He begins to wish Fudge had never been born.

Blume is a master at creating suspense for her 9 to 12 year old audience. As the story builds on each chapter to the happy ending, the main position held throughout is family values. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing demonstrates the importance of family values and the role that humor plays in our lives. We must never lose that sense. This is a must read for any kid you know.

If you are considering writing for this age group (8 – 12), reading a Judy Blume book will inspire you. Blume’s insight into the elementary school mind is awe-inspiring because she is so on target. As writers of children’s books, it is recommended to study the craft in addition to reading the type of book you wish to write. To be a good writer you must first read, read, read, and then read some more.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Judy Blume spent her childhood in Elizabeth, New Jersey, making up stories inside her head. She has spent her adult years in many places doing the same thing, only now she writes her stories down on paper. Adults as well as children will recognize such Blume titles as: Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret; Blubber; Just as Long as We're Together; and the five book series about the irrepressible Fudge. She has also written three novels for adults, Summer Sisters; Smart Women; and Wifey, all of them New York Times bestsellers. More than 80 million copies of her books have been sold, and her work has been translated into thirty-one languages. She receives thousands of letters a year from readers of all ages who share their feelings and concerns with her.

Write it down,