Study Guide

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing Jealousy

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All the other guys looked at their goldfish. I knew what they were thinking. They wished they could have tiny green turtles too. (1.2)

Peter likes it that the other kids are jealous; it makes him feel important. Most kids like to be the envy of their friends over something.

Mrs. Yarby just gave me a nod. She was still busy with Fudge. "I have a surprise for this dear little boy," she said. "It's in my suitcase. Should I go get it?"

"Yes," Fudge shouted. "Go get… go get." (2.47-48)

Even their houseguests pay more attention to Fudge than they do to Peter. It's baffling to him; what's so great about that kid, anyway? Why does everyone make such a big fuss over him? It's hard having a cute little sibling when you're past your own cuteness peak.

I said, "That's a nice train."

Mrs. Yarby turned to me. "Oh, I have something for you too uh… uh…"

"Peter," I reminded her. "My name is Peter." (2.53-55)

To add insult to injury, Mrs. Yarby doesn't even remember Peter's name. He can't help but feel miffed that she's so attentive with Fudge and then completely overlooks him, even though he's been more polite and welcoming. Unfortunately, this is a pretty common experience for anyone who has an adorable little brother or sister. You know who you are.

I can stay up for as long as three minutes. I showed my mother, my father, and Fudge how I can do it right in the living room. They were all impressed. Especially Fudge. He wanted to do it too. So I turned him upside down and tried to teach him. But he always tumbled over backward. (3.3)

Fudge wants to be like his big brother. Being older means you can do cooler stuff like walking to Central Park and doing headstands, but sometimes Peter forgets that when Fudge is being showered with attention and presents.

"No." I told her. "I'm not going to stand on my head anymore." I went into my room and slammed the door. I played with Dribble until suppertime. Nobody ever worries about me the way they worry about Fudge. If I decided not to eat they'd probably never even notice. (3.18)

Peter doesn't always realize that the reason his parents don't worry about him as much is because they trust him to be reasonable and responsible. Unlike Fudge, who needs to be watched every second. Oh, the burden of being the firstborn kid…

My mother thinks Sheila is the greatest. "She's so smart," my mother says. "And some day she's going to be a real beauty." Now that's the funniest. Because Sheila looks a lot like the monkeys that Fudge is so crazy about. (4.13)

It's not surprising that Peter doesn't like Sheila. He already feels like he has to compete with Fudge for his mom's attention; it's not cool that Mrs. Hatcher is going around and praising Sheila, too.

As soon as the nurse saw Fudge she said, "How's my favorite patient?" She gave him a hug and and a little book to read. To me she said, "Good morning, Peter."

It burns me up the way people treat Fudge. He's not so special. He's just little, that's all. (6.14-15)

Peter doesn't think this is fair at all, because he's the one who actually works at making a good impression. Just like his mom, though, the nurse probably realizes that Fudge needs all that special attention just so he won't be impossible to deal with.

"No, I'm sorry, Fudge," Dr. Brown said, "it's still not as good as Peter."

So Fudge opened his mouth really wide. "Count teeth." he said. "Count Fudgie's teeth." (6.36-37)

Dr. Brown's a smart guy. He knows exactly how get Fudge to do what he wants: make him jealous of Peter.

Fudge sat up. "Like Pee-tah's." he said.

I smiled. I guess the kid really looks up to me. He even wants to wear the same kind of shoes. But everybody knows you can't buy loafers for such a little guy. (6.93-94)

It's good for Peter to see how Fudge can be jealous of him, too. Most little boys want to be just like their big brother. And btw, toddler fashion choices have come a long way since 1972.

My father picked up Fudge and held him on his lap. "Would you like to ride the Toddle-Bike, Fudge? It's just like the one you have at home."

"Why are you asking him?" I said. "What does he know about making commercials?" (8.66-67)

Mr. Hatcher knows: cute sells.

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