Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume

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Chapters 1-2 Summary

Chapter 1: "The Big Winner"

Nine-year-old Peter Warren Hatcher is in the fourth grade. His family lives on the twelfth floor of an old apartment building on West 68th Street in New York. The apartment has a great elevator, with mirrors all around and a bench to sit on. It is operated by a man named Henry Bevelheimer, who knows everybody in the building.

At his friend Jimmy Fargo's birthday party, Peter wins a tiny green turtle in a glass bowl for guessing how many jelly beans are contained in a jar; Peter names his turtle Dribble. When he brings Dribble home and shows him to his mother, she is not very pleased, but Peter promises to take care of his new pet himself. He carefully puts the turtle and its bowl in his room, on top of his dresser.

Peter's father works in the advertising business, and his current project is a commercial for Juicy-O. There is always plenty of Juicy-O at the apartment because the company sends it over by the crate. Peter has a two-and-a-half year old brother named Farley Drexel Hatcher, whom everyone calls Fudge. Fudge is always in Peter's way, throws tantrums when he gets mad, and "messes up everything he sees." He is very interested when he sees Dribble, and when Peter says sternly, "That's my turtle...don't touch him," the little boy "laugh[s] like crazy."

Chapter 2: "Mr. and Mrs. Juicy-O"

Mr. Yarby, the president of Juicy-O, is coming to town with his wife, and Father has invited them to stay at the Hatcher apartment instead of at a hotel. Mother fixes up Fudge's room for the guests, and moves Fudge's crib into Peter's room. Peter is not happy about having to share a room with his little brother, and offers to sleep on the couch in the living room, but his mother insists that he will have to stay in his own room, in his own bed.

Mother spends the whole day cooking, and sets up the dinner table, putting a lovely bowl of flowers right in the middle of it. Peter goes to Jimmy Fargo's house for the afternoon, and when he returns, his mother is fretting, because two of her flowers are missing. Fudge is chewing on something, and Mother picks him up and fishes a rose petal out of his mouth. She rushes to the phone and calls the doctor, who tells her to give Fudge a spoonful of medicine. Peter wonders how flowers taste and, while Mother is bathing Fudge, tries one only to discover that it tastes terrible.

When the Yarbys arrive, Mrs. Yarby picks Fudge up right away and makes a "big deal" over him. Bouncing him on her knee, she gives him a gift—"a windup train that [makes] a lot of noise." She has a present for Peter too—a picture dictionary identical to the kind he liked when he was about four years old. Mrs. Yarby admits that she does not know much about what big boys like, but Peter is polite, and thanks her kindly for the gift. Fudge, however, disappears into Peter's room, and comes out carrying his big brother's "old, worn-out picture dictionary." Mrs. Yarby is insulted, and coldly tells Peter that her gift is returnable, as if it is his...

(The entire section is 828 words.)