Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
By Judy Blume (1972)
So why are the Fudge books still in print – 40 odd years after they first charmed elementary school readers in the 1970s?
Judy Blume wrote five Fudge books. Their protagonist is ten-year-old Peter Farley, but his nemesis or antagonist or perhaps just his foil is his baby brother Farley – aka Fudge. Peter and Fudge aren’t really enemies – Fudge is just a rival for the attention and love of his parents – something most kids know a lot about. His parents don’t love Fudge more – but Fudge is a handful and it sure seems like his parents spend more time on Fudge. and Fudge seems to run the show and get what he wants, and they don’t seem to be able to protect Peter from Fudge’s predations.
Blume’s trick is to present all this from Peter’s perspective. Life with a younger brother like that is unfair! And what elementary school reader doesn’t relate to that? They still do – 40 years later.
Life with Fudge is also funny as Fudge is always instigating some new hijinks – in nearly every chapter. Each Fudge book is a season’s worth of sitcom scenarios packed into 10 chapters. That’s what makes them brisk, memorable page-turners.
Of course there are lessons, too. Peter will never conquer or overcome the attention his brother demands. But he will learn from it – as all children must. One School, One Book families have been asking to learn and share with Peter Farley – and share Fudge’s misadventures – for some time now. The Fudge books are finally here. We’re happy to offer Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and Superfudge (with resources) for our family literacy programs. (Expect Fudge-a-mania and Double Fudge are right around the corner.)
Know, too, that Blume’s influence runs deep. Current popular authors like Andrew Clements (Frindle) and Jacqueline Davies (The Lemonade War) and Dan Gutman (The Homework Machine) have learned from Judy Blume that if you put elementary kids in their milieu – and let them talk freely and candidly amongst themselves in the innocent, candid, and true way that kids really talk – your readers will flock like seagulls to your characters, your scenarios, and your milieu. That’s why the Fudge books are still in print. They’ve wrought a legacy.