Study Guide

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing Youth

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My mother moved Fudge's crib into my room. He's going to get a regular bed when he's three, my mother says. (2.4)

When the author writes about Fudge's crib, it clues us in to the fact that he's really still a baby even though he's two.

I changed and scrubbed up while Fudge finished his supper. I was going to eat with the company. Being nine has its advantages (2.39)

Peter may not get away with as much as Fudge, but there are some perks to being older. Considering what happens next, he probably wishes he'd gone to bed instead.

"Isn't he the cutest little boy." Mrs. Yarby said. "I just love babies." She gave him a big kiss on the top of his head. I kept waiting for somebody to tell her Fudge was no baby. But no one did. (2.42)

Peter simply doesn't get what the fuss is about babies and Fudge in particular. He's not even a little baby that you can carry around anymore, and he causes a lot more trouble than an older kid would.

My present turned out to be a big picture dictionary. The kind I liked when I was about four years old…

"I don't know much about big boys," Mrs. Yarby said. "So the lady in the store said a nice book would be a good idea." (2.57-58)

It turns out that Mr. and Mrs. Yarby know absolutely nothing about kids at different ages since they never had kids of their own. Still, she does try to compliment Peter by calling him a big boy.

When he still refused to eat she got upset. "You've got to eat, Fudgie," she said. "You want to grow up to be big and strong, don't you?"

"No grow." Fudge said. (3.5-6)

Mrs. Hatcher tries to tempt Fudge with the promise of growing up, but Fudge knows better than to fall for that. He's got a good thing going on as a little toddler. Who'd want to grow up when you're showered with attention and get away with murder?

Even Fudge can ride. He has a little blue Toddle-Bike, a present from my father's client. And when he's riding he makes motorcycle noises. "Vroom—vroom—vroom." he yells. (4.9)

Peter grudgingly admits that Fudge can be pretty funny and cute.

I don't believe in cooties anymore. When I was in second grade, I used to examine myself to see if I had them. But I never found any. By fourth grade most kids give up on cooties. But not Sheila. She's still going strong. (4.12)

Peter's annoyed by Sheila because she seems more immature than the other kids in their class. Cooties are so second grade.

"Of course I can, Mrs. Hatcher," Sheila said. "I know all about baby-sitting from my sister."

Sheila's sister Libby is in seventh grade. She's about as beautiful as Sheila. The only difference is, she's bigger. (4.30-31)

Sheila likes to emulate her big sister and to pretend like she's all grown up and can take on responsibilities like watching Fudge. She has no idea what she's in for…

We had an eater, a biter, and a crier. I thought that two-thirty would never come. I also thought my mother was slightly crazy for dreaming up the party in the first place. "Doesn't Fudge have any normal friends?" I whispered.

"There's nothing wrong with Fudgie's friends," my mother whispered back. "All small children are like that." (5.27-28)

We never get to see Peter when he's younger, but given what we know about him, do you think he was as difficult as Fudge and his friends?

"Three is kind of young for a party," I told my mother.

"Peter Warren Hatcher…" my mother began.

"Yes?" I asked.

"You are absolutely right." (5.121-123)

After hosting Fudge's third birthday party, Mrs. Hatcher is ready to concede defeat. Peter was right all along.

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