You may think that your brother is pretty annoying sometimes. But has he ever eaten your pet?
That's exactly what a boy named Fudge does to his brother's pet turtle in the funny novel "Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing." Fudge, whose real name is Farley Drexel Hatcher, is just a toddler in the book. But Fudge gets into trouble as he tries to keep up with his big brother Peter -- the "Fourth Grade Nothing" of the title.
In the book by Judy Blume, Peter tells how embarrassing it is to have a brother who smears potatoes on restaurant walls and throws a tantrum in a shoe store. But Peter's worst moment comes when Fudge eats Dribble, Peter's pet turtle, and laughs about it. There's a happy ending -- but not, unfortunately, for Dribble.
Millions of kids have followed Fudge and Peter's adventures in "Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing" since it was written 30 years ago. Two other books in the series -- "Superfudge" and "Fudge-a-mania" -- also are popular with kids, who like reading about how Peter deals with the crazy things that Fudge does.
Blume has just published a fourth book about Fudge and Peter. In the newest book, "Double Fudge," Fudge is now 6 years old and Peter is just starting the seventh grade. As Peter tells it, Fudge's latest interest -- money -- has become an obsession. Fudge dresses as a miser for Halloween and tries to buy things with the "Fudge bucks" he created. Fudge also announces that someday he'll be rich enough to buy New York City, where he lives in an apartment with his family.
As usual, Peter is embarrassed by his brother's behavior. But things get even worse for Peter when his family unexpectedly is reunited with some long-lost relatives. Peter is mortified when his twin cousins, Flora and Fauna, show up at his school to do their "Natural Beauties" song-and-dance show. Fudge, meanwhile, may have met his match in his 3-year-old cousin, Farley, who is immediately dubbed "Mini-Fudge."
When she published the first Fudge book, Blume never thought she'd write a series about a little brother who has been called a "human hurricane." But she says she changed her mind and wrote "Superfudge" after getting letters from thousands of readers who wanted to read more about Fudge and Peter.
Ten years after "Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing," Blume wrote "Fudge-a-mania." She figured then that she was done with books about Fudge. But her grandson, Elliot, loves Fudge and made Blume promise to write about him again if she ever got a good idea for another book.
"I feel really lucky that just when I least expected it, an idea came to me," Blume says. "I was eating pancakes at the time and started making notes for the book an hour later. Hmmm . . . maybe I should eat more pancakes."
Blume has written more than 20 books, including "Blubber," "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret" and "Here's to You, Rachel Robinson."
Some adults don't like these other books because of the honest way Blume writes about things such as bullying and love. They have tried to ban some of Blume's books from libraries. But Blume's honesty, along with her sense of humor, is part of why so many kids love her books.
Meanwhile, Fudge fans are already asking: Will there ever be another Fudge book? Blume, who is 64, isn't sure.
"At the end of writing every book I think, I'm never doing this again! But when it's published and I sniff the pages -- something I did as a preschooler at the public library -- I'm awfully glad I did! And if the bug bites . . . "
-- Karen MacPherson
For more information about Blume and her books, go to www.judyblume.com.