Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume


Screen shot 2013-10-30 at 8.57.49 AMWe have hit the Judy Blume Era at our house, and I’m loving it. We’ve already delved into some of her younger chapter books, including The One in the Middle is the Green Kangaroo and Freckle Juice, and now we are in the midst of reading Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.

My second grader has her hands on old copy of Tales that my mom dug up. The cover is worn soft and the pages are yellowed, complete with ancient dog ears marking a long ago stopping point (yes, I am one of those people who dog ears pages!) Every sniff of that ‘old book smell’ makes me sad for the day future generations get hand-me-down eReaders (or more likely the latest, brand new iteration of eReader) instead of much loved hand-me-down books. But that’s a topic for another post.

I wonder how Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing would be received if it were to come out in today’s politically correct world? There is *gasp* a scene which describes a spanking, and yet if you take a look at most descriptions of Anne Hatcher, the parent who delivers said spanking, she is described as loving and attentive and all-in-all quite a wonderful mother. Where is the outrage? The calls of abuse?

SpankinScreen shot 2013-10-30 at 8.57.00 AMg scene aside, as an adult, I look at this book with a completely different perspective, obviously, than I did reading it as a child, and I find younger brother Fudge to be an incredibly unlikeable character who is generally lacking in discipline. I sympathize (as we are meant to do, I realize) with the much put upon nine-year-old Peter, and seriously question the parenting skills of the aforementioned Anne Hatcher and her husband Warren, who appear to be raising a three-year-old who lacks respect for pretty much any authority figure he comes across. Although, I will say, having had a child who was a challenge at the dinner table at one point in her life, I can certainly relate to the ‘eat it or wear it’ scene. ha.Screen shot 2013-10-30 at 8.57.13 AM

Regardless of my perception of the story now, the bottom line is Judy Blume delivered a fun, engaging story that even after all these years resonates with kids today. Both my second grader and my fifth grader have enjoyed it, and are eager for the next book in the ‘Fudge’ series. I believe when we delve into some of Judy Blume’s older YA books (who wasn’t obsessed with the thought of having scoliosis after reading Deenie, or trying to sneak a peek at Forever… back in the day) I’ll discover the same to be true.

What books have you reread as an adult that completely changed the way you think about the storyline or a particular character?

Share your thoughts! Unless you're a spambot.