Friday, July 4, 2014

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing

By Judy Blume. Published 1972.

Fuck you, spellcheck. Blume is spelled right.

O.K. So, this is my first post under the influence of some alcohol. So…we’ll see how this goes. But I didn’t want to leave y’all high and dry just because it’s a holiday in my country today. We’re a giving people. But this may be short and sweet. Or maybe longwinded. WHO KNOWS???

So, I may be biased on my review of this, because I also have a brother six years younger than me. But he was never this bad. So let me just flat out say it. Peter’s little brother, Fudge, is a straight up, annoying-ass brat. Most of the adults in this story find him adorable, at least at first, but I don’t have the patience for this kind of shit.

So, to start off with, Peter wins himself a very tiny turtle, that he names Dribble. That is awesome. But his mother is all like, Oh my goodness! He smells! You better take care of him yourself! And Peter’s all, no shit, he’s mine, of course I will. And he is strictly hands-off to that little shithead Fudge.

Their dad is an advertising exec. I don’t actually watch Mad Men, but I’m going to assume it’s close to this. It is 1972.  That’s pretty close, right? Anyway, their dad chooses to have one of his biggest clients and his wife stay at their apartment instead of a hotel. So you just know that’s going to go well. The wife thinks Fudge is just adorable at first. But then during dinner when he’s supposed to be in bed, Fudge brings out Dribble (who he’s not supposed to touch, goddammit!) and freaks the wife out. Then he comes out with a gorilla mask, and freaks her out even more. So yeah, his dad loses the account.

Fudge goes through a ridiculous phase where he won’t eat, and then will only eat on the floor like a dog. And then one night he won’t eat the cereal he insisted upon. So his father says, “You’ll eat it or you’ll wear it!” When he doesn’t eat it, his father takes him to the bathroom, and pours the cereal over him. I think it’s awesome. And it gets him to eat like a normal human being. Good job, Papa Fudge.

Peter has one friend from his class that lives on his block, Jimmy Fargo. What a badass sounding name. And then there’s a girl Sheila, who lives in his building, but he hates. Whatever, Sheila’s awesome, and we’ll get to her book soon enough. Peter and Jimmy get all pissed at Sheila one day because she’s on “their” rocks in the park. Motherfuckers, you don’t own any rocks in Central Park. Then Fudge comes randomly running up, with his mother trailing behind him. Sheila asks if she can watch him, and his mother forgot to turn the oven on, so she says alright, if Peter and Jimmy help her, and they go to the playground. So they go, and Fudge gets up high, and thinks he’s a bird, and jumps. Little freak knocks out his two front teeth and swallows them. They won’t grow back for a few years. Their mom gets really pissed off at Peter, but later realizes it really was just an accident.

Fudge turns three, and they have a party for him, which is a fucking disaster. They invite three kids, a morbidly obese eater, a biter, and crier that’s afraid of everything. It only lasts an hour and a half, but it feels like forever. And Peter has to help. One kid just cries, one falls asleep, and the other bites and pees on the floor. And they all bounce on the furniture. At the end of it, Peter’s mom agrees they were maybe a bit too young for a party.

Peter has a whole Saturday that’s ruined by having to go out with his mother and Fudge. First they go to the dentist, to check on Fudge’s nonexistent teeth. Peter has to go back and they use reverse psychology to get Fudge to open his mouth. And then they pretty much have to do the same thing to get him into a new pair of shoes. Saddle shoes, btw. Peter gets loafers. Then at lunch Fudge smears potatoes on the wall, and dumps peas over his head. Peter thinks their mother should have slugged him, and vows to never spend a day with him again.

Peter is assigned a group project with Sheila and Jimmy. They meet at Peter’s apartment, in his room. Jimmy and Peter mainly work, really hard, on the poster. Of course, one day Peter comes home to find that Fudge has destroyed it. Peter is PISSED, and with good reason. At least his mother feels bad, and Fudge gets in trouble. They make a new one, and aside from some group dynamic drama, do very well on their report.

Mama Fudge goes to visit her sister for a while, and Papa Fudge has to bring the boys to work with him. Somehow, his client decides Fudge is just PERFECT for the commercial they’re shooting, so they have to use him. Of course, Fudge is anything but cooperative, and they have to use reverse psychology with Peter again to make him do anything. And then they don’t tell Mama Fudge about it, they just let her see the commercial on TV. Nice.

Ugh, ok, let’s jus get down to the worst of it. FUDGE FUCKING EATS DRIBBLE! Yes, he eats a damn turtle! They take him to the hospital, and the doctors tell them the turtle will probably pass through him. Really? I know he’s a small turtle, but damn. Ouch. But they give Fudge all sorts of things to help the process along, but it’s not working. Meanwhile, Peter is worried about Fudge, but also about Dribble. But nobody else seems to give a damn about him. It’s quite frustrating.

So they start talking about having to perform surgery, but in the nick of time, he passes the turtle through. Unfortunately, Dribble did not make it. Sad. Peter’s grandmother gets all pissed at him for even asking if Dribble were alive or dead. Boo to her.

When he gets home from the hospital, Fudge gets a disgusting amount of attention and presents. But wait! Papa and Mama Fudge aren’t so awful after all! They remembered Peter, and bought him a dog to make up for Dribble. And they make it very clear he’s Peter’s dog, not Fudge’s. Peter names him Turtle, to remember Dribble.

o   Boy, y’all, living in New York in the 70’s. Everyone seems very nonchalant about muggings. Peter’s all, Yeah, Jimmy’s been mugged three times. No biggie. I know I’ll be mugged sometime, but my dad told me what to do, so it’s no biggie, either. WTF?

o   Right, so there’s a reason I don’t have children, and never will. This book kinda sums up part of that decision.


  1. The question of HOW a child was able to swallow a turtle has been nagging at me for almost thirty years lol. Google tells me tiny turtles do exist, but they don't look tiny enough to swallow.