Judy Blume

Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing

  • 39-page comprehensive study guide
  • Features 10 chapter summaries and 5 sections of expert analysis
  • Written by a college professor with a Master's degree in English Literature
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Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing Summary & Study Guide

SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides for challenging works of literature. This 39-page guide for “Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing” by Judy Blume includes detailed chapter summaries and analysis covering 10 chapters, as well as several more in-depth sections of expert-written literary analysis. Featured content includes commentary on major characters, 25 important quotes, essay topics, and key themes like The Ambivalent Nature of Family Relationships and The Importance of School.

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, an episodic children’s book by Judy Blume, is a first-person narrative recounted by nine-year-old protagonist Peter Hatcher. A work of realistic fiction, this book is divided into 10 chapters and directed at young readers from the third- to fifth-grade levels. Originally published by Dutton Children’s Books in 1972, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing is the first of five books in a series. The book received a number of awards, including the Pacific Northwest Library Association Young Reader’s Choice Award, the Great Stone Face Book Award, the Charlie May Simon Children’s Book Award, and the Massachusetts Children’s Book Award.

Plot Summary 

The anecdotal chapters pertain to the daily realities of life for nine-year-old Peter Hatcher, who lives in an apartment on West 68th Street in New York City. His father, Warren Hatcher, creates and produces television commercials for products such as Juicy-O, a drink made of various fruits that the young narrator finds distasteful. Peter’s mother, Mrs. Hatcher, is a housewife who is often overwhelmed by caring for her younger two-year-old son Farley Drexel Hatcher, known as Fudge. Fudge is a high-spirited, mischievous child who actually wishes to be like his older brother Peter; however, he is a source of constant exasperation for his sibling. The toddler’s demeanor becomes increasingly tyrannical throughout the book. Mrs. Hatcher prevails upon her older son to cajole Fudge into better behavior. For example, she asks Peter to stand on his head to persuade Fudge to eat his dinner.

Judy Blume provides an effective worldview from the perspective of an urban nine-year-old who is convinced that his parents worship his difficult younger brother and think nothing of him. She candidly portrays the resentment that can occur when an older sibling is constantly required to acquiesce to all the demands of a spoiled toddler. When Peter is awarded the prize of a small turtle at a friend’s birthday party, he becomes attached to the pet and names him Dribble. In keeping with his dependably mature and responsible persona, Peter feeds the turtle regularly and cleans his cage every Saturday morning. Despite repeated warnings to leave Peter’s possessions alone, Fudge eventually gains access to Dribble and promptly ingests him. Blume frankly reveals the death of the turtle and lists the various remedies, like castor oil, Fudge receives in the hospital in an effort to remove the creature. All parental attention and concern are directed toward Fudge; Peter feels that no one notices his grief upon the loss of his pet. Nonetheless, left home while his parents tend to Fudge in the hospital, Peter realizes that, regardless of their differences and squabbles, he loves his mother, father, and little brother.

The story touches upon nascent preadolescent attraction in the form of an annoying classmate and neighbor, Sheila Tubman, who repeatedly angles for Peter’s attention by accusing him of having cooties. Conversely, Peter is fortunate enough to have Jimmy Fargo as a best friend. This provides him with a companion to climb on the rocks in Central Park while remaining wary of potential muggers in the area.

Judy Blume’s story allows the unfiltered worldview of a nine-year-old boy, replete with the love and anger he feels toward his all too human parents and younger brother, to be narrated with candor and authenticity. She avoids creating a utopian environment, peppering her story with accounts of an occasionally unjust, frazzled mother and a sometimes frustrated father as they raise children in midtown Manhattan.

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