Okay people. I think the last three reviews I have written start with hand-wringing about being behind in reviews. This time is no different. Except for how I am determined, or should I say DETERMINED to get caught up. I have a twisted process in that I don’t like to keep reading if I haven’t reviewed, so now I’m in this twisted merry-go-round of I want to read, but I’m behind in reviews, but I’m more behind than I’ve been in a bit so it feels hard to start so I don’t write OR read. AND ALSO I’m still working on my own book (!) but then I can’t work on writing that until I’ve written this and also have I mentioned I’d like to do some reading? (Pardon the extreme navel-gazing, ain’t no accountability like internet stranger accountability cuz internet strangers give you empathy even though they might pass you on the street and not recognize you. SO. INTERNET STRANGERS. HERE I AM, REALLY MEANING TO CATCH UP ON MY REVIEWS).
And with all that said, let’s talk about some Judy Blume. I of course read all the hits of Blume in my youth, the middle grade and young adult categories, but from my best recollection I missed out on the kiddo books in general and the fudge books in particular. That last Judy Blume book I read actually was her newest adult book, In the Unlikely Event, which I rated as, well, just fine, so I’m curious how I’d feel about re-reading the ones I loved when I was younger.
I of course picked up “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing” up for the Cannonball Read book club (which I then couldn’t take part in) so I should give a gander to see what others thought of it, in particular people who were revisiting it. As an older sibling I get the appeal of this tale, but luckily my younger brother was nothing like the odious Fudge, who is one of the most ill-behaved (and poorly parented) children on the block.
I see this book as a time capsule when dads were at the office, and moms were doing all the childcare, and it’s successful at painting that picture and fine in a book that is resting in an adults hands, but I wouldn’t want to give this to a kiddo to read unless I caveated it with “this was a different time which is why the father is such a moron, and the mother is afraid of leaving her husband with the children for a weekend because parenting is such a mystery to him.” Though now that I think of portrayals of husbands and fatherhood even in more recent popular culture, I fear we haven’t moved the dial that much (sigh). I also feel like each character (mom, dad, older brother, younger brother) was portrayed as just such a negative representation of what a GOOD one of those should be, like they were a family of Goofus’ to Galants (a la Highlights magazine), that again, I wouldn’t love the message this was giving to an impressionable kiddo. And like y’all. His brother broke into his room AGAIN and ATE HIS TURTLE and the family isn’t even checking in on the older sibling about it? Like he’s a jerk for caring about a turtle and not understanding how stomach acid works? C’mon.
So yeah, it was a bit wild to read this in present day, as an adult, and I’m still a firm Blume fan, but this book didn’t deliver anything to make me want to keep reading. Wait dang I just saw the next book is about Sheila, okay, that might be okay. I might be forced to eat my literary words…