Judy Blume's Superfudge
Book review by Daniela Chamorro Mantica
Superfudge is Judy Blume's follow-up to her popular book Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, and it is just as quick and clever as its predecessor. It's set about two years after the first book, so our narrator Peter Hatcher is now in sixth grade, and the infamous Fudge is starting kindergarten (God help us).
In many ways, change propels Superfudge forward, both thematically and plot-wise.
One huge change: the arrival of Tootsie, the newest member of the Hatcher family. Tootsie continues the family tradition of candy-inspired nicknames, but despite Peter's premature worries, she brings Fudge more frustrations than she does Peter.
The other big change is the Hatchers' temporary move from their New York apartment to a house in the suburbs of Princeton, N.J.
This move means a new school and new friends for the boys, and new pursuits for their parents.
The new setting was a potentially dangerous choice for a sequel, and we are as skeptical as Peter when we hear the news alongside him. But Blume proves us wrong, charming us with hilarious new characters and situations, and soon, like Peter, we're "used to it here."
The best new character is undoubtedly Fudge's new myna bird, Uncle Feather. His favorite phrase "Bonjour, stupid!" perfectly encapsulates the smart/smart-mouth paradox that is Fudge, making the bird a perfect companion for Fudge.
As a sixth grader, Peter is going through some development of his own. He's less inclined to be the frustrated and whiny big brother, moving into embarrassed almost-puberty instead. He develops his first crush and struggles with his long-distance friendship with Jimmy Fargo.
But overall, Fudge is the star, and he takes the prize for most developed character. Now four years old, Fudge spends the year in Princeton acquiring vocabulary like unanimous and privilege, learning to ride his new bike without training wheels, and demanding more attention because, as he points out, he's a middle child now. (God help us.)
It's actually fascinating to watch Fudge in his new adventures. He's smart enough to be in "mixed group" in school, creative enough to make up songs, and imaginative enough to believe he could grow up to be a bird. He perseveres with his bike lessons despite knee-to-head bruises, and confidently proclaims he's as smart as he thinks he is.
Fudge just gets more and more charming, hilarious, and fascinating as he grows older, and there's nothing more fun than being a spectator. He believes he is Superfudge, and we have to admit he makes a compelling case for it.
Using another one of his "big words," Fudge asks, "Was this a catastrophe?" "Not quite, Fudge, but I'm sure you'll try harder next time." He certainly will, and readers of Superfudge can't wait to watch him.
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