Study Guide

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing Friendship

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I'm allowed to walk over by myself as long as I'm going to be with friends. My mother doesn't want me hanging around the park alone.

For one thing, Jimmy Fargo has been mugged three times—twice for his bicycle and once for his money. (4.1-2)

No wonder Peter's parents won't let him go to Central Park by himself. But lucky for Peter, he has buddies. With Jimmy at his side, he'll be less of a target. Guess that's part of being a New York City kid: you have to watch out for muggers.

On a nice sunny afternoon I called for Jimmy Fargo and we went to the park. Jimmy is the only kid on my block who's in my class at school. Unless you count Sheila. And I don't. (4.11)

Despite the fact that few kids from school live on Peter's block, he's still not willing to stoop to the level of considering Sheila a friend. She's way too bossy, and he's just not willing to put up with that. Plus, she's a girl and that can't help.

Henry, the elevator operator, is always making jokes about me and Sheila. He thinks we like each other. The truth is, I can't stand her. She's a real know-it-all. But I've discovered that most girls are. (4.11)

Much to Peter's dismay, everyone in his life likes to tease him about liking Sheila. Adults can be so weirdly insistent about forcing kids to be friends, even when they're like Peter and Sheila and have nothing in common. What do you think of Peter's remark stereotyping girls?

Me and Jimmy have this special group of rocks where we like to play when we're in the park. We play secret agent up there. Jimmy can imitate all kinds of foreign accents. Probably because his father's a part-time actor. (4.14)

Even rocks can be special when you're with a good friend. Jimmy's like Peter in that both their dads have seriously stereotypical New York City jobs—struggling actor and ad man.

"Please, Peter. I'll be right back. I'll feel better if all three of you are watching him."

"What do you say?" I asked Jimmy. "Sure," he answered. "Why not?" (4.36-38)

Instead of complaining about having to babysit Fudge the Terror, Jimmy just goes along with it. He knows that Peter doesn't have a say in this whole situation anyway. Without his friends, it would be a lot harder for Peter to put up with his little brother and his rambunctious ways. Some kids might avoid hanging out with someone with a troublesome brother. Not Jimmy.

He was screaming and crying and his face was a mess of blood. I couldn't even tell where the blood was coming from at first. Then Jimmy handed me his handkerchief. I don't know how clean it was but it was better than nothing. I mopped some blood off Fudge's face. (4.56)

It's a good thing that Peter has Jimmy around when Fudge has his bad accident. Sheila completely loses it and starts crying, but Jimmy keeps a level head. Maybe getting mugged three times makes dealing with Fudge seem like a piece of cake.

Fudge is going to be three years old. My mother said he should have a birthday party with some of his friends. He plays with three other little kids who live in our building. There's Jennie, Ralph, and Sam. (5.13)

Fudge is just a toddler, so he just plays with the other little kids in their building because it's easy to arrange playdates. He doesn't really choose his friends.

But it still isn't much fun to have her hanging around. She's always complaining that she got stuck with the worst possible committee. And that me and Jimmy fool more than we work. (7.5)

Some of Sheila's complaining might have to do with the fact that Peter and Jimmy are best buds, so she feels a little left out.

The hard part was explaining to Jimmy that we had to start all over again. He was a good sport about it. He said this time he'd make sure his truck didn't look like a flying train. And I said this time I'd make pencil marks first so my letters didn't go uphill. (7.81)

Jimmy doesn't complain when Peter tells him the bad news about their school project. Instead of making Peter re-do all the work himself, he's happy to pitch in. He even makes it into something positive: this time, the project will be even better. He probably knew Peter felt terrible about it and he didn't want to make it worse.

"Have a nice visit, Mrs. Hatcher," Henry told my mother when we reached the lobby.

"Thank you, Henry," my mother said. "Keep an eye on my family for me."

"Will do, Mrs. Hatcher," Henry said, giving my father a wink. (8.17-19)

Getting to know all the people in your building is one way to feel connected when you live in a huge city like New York that can seem pretty impersonal.

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