Recently, I read my first Judy Blume book, ‘Tales of fourth grade nothing’ to review my son’s classroom read aloud. I had thumped through it while at his desk and decided I needed to read it and was glad I did. I was not impressed by this work and find it as a poor choice for children’s literature. Below are my concerns with this particular book.
There wasn’t any clear moral to the story and despite ample opportunity, the main character didn’t improve or really even change from the beginning to the end.
Poor Portrayal of Family
Multiple times Peter wishes his brother wasn’t born and it is the overall theme of the book (It never acknowledges that it’s wrong to feel that way. We should be helping our kids see that their siblings are gifts from God)
The book starts with assuming that others may think that his mother is his biggest problem. Although it says she’s not, just the suggestion bothers me. It goes on to affirm that his brother is his biggest problem. I don’t even want to suggest to my children that parents/siblings could ever be a ‘Problem’.
General Lack of Respect & Lack of Thought
Peter often uses unkind words, like “Shut up!”. This is something I won’t allow my kids to say to each other.
“She’s such a pain” one of the kids says about their siblings.
At one point, Peter runs upstairs, slams his door and throws his shoe at the wall. The parent never even mentions that is bad behavior.
The parent dumps cereal on the child’s head as a form of punishment? It’s funny; but not sure it’s teaching anything.
Portrayal of Drugs/Medicines
pg 30. “Because a lot of dope-pushers hang around here. But taking dope is even dumber than smoking, so nobody’s going to hook me.” Here, I don’t like the new vocabulary introduced.
pg 54, chapter 5 ends with, “my mother flopped down in a chair. Grandma brought her two aspirins and a glass of water. “Here dear,” she said, “Maybe these will help.” My mother swallowed the pills.” I don’t like that without being sick, she’s offered pills and popping pills because of tough day she had with the child.