Thursday, December 19, 2013

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume

Synopsis: Two is a crowd when Peter and his four-year-old brother, Fudge, are in the same room. Grown-ups think Fudge is absolutely adorable, but Peter and his pet turtle, Dribble, know the truth. Fudge is actually a tiny terror in disguise, causing mischief everywhere he goes.

My Thoughts: Although I discovered Judy Blume around age 11 I firmly refused to read this series because, well, I was in the fifth grade and couldn't possibly read something that was obviously for someone much younger and less mature. In all actuality, I was discouraged from reading books from our little school library that were beneath my reading level. It was unfortunate because I really missed out on quite a few little gems like this book.

What Worked: Told from Peter's point of view the book reads exactly as I'd imagine a 9 year old would tell these tales. It was pretty easy to empathize with Peter and his frustrations of having a little (yet adorable) sibling who, in Peter's mind, messes everything up. The language is simple and easy to read. I was glad that Peter didn't use words like "misogynist" or "antidisestablishmentarianism". Nothing throws off a book with a child narrator who uses the word antidisestablishmentarianism.

What Didn't Work: Since this book is technically one of tales and not a continuous storyline the stories do not have a set timeline or a feeling of continuity to them. Although this might appeal to a child (which I fully admit that I am a few years beyond this book's demographic) I think older readers might long for an actual storyline with a plot.

In a Nutshell: A truly delightful book that would be excellent for a parent/child read together session. For children ages 7-11 I'd say. Although in a slight warning, younger children might ask questions on what happened to Dribble and if you are not inclined to have a "Circle of Life" discussion you might want to skip this one.


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