Literature / Fudge
The Fudge Series is a series of children's books written by Judy Blume
. The books are a general mixture of Slice of Life
and comedy, following the protagonist Peter Hatcher navigating the trials and tribulations of boyhood alongside his Annoying Younger Sibling
Farley, aka the eponymous "Fudge", their mother Anne, father Warren, and later on, baby sister Tootsie.
Books in the series:
- Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (1972)
- Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great (1972)
- Superfudge (1980)
- Fudge-a-Mania (1990)
- Double Fudge (2002)
This series provides examples of:
- Accidental Art: In Fudge-a-Mania, baby Tootsie accidentally walks through spilled paint and makes little footprints across one of Jimmy's father's canvases. He decides to make a series of "Baby Feet" paintings with her as a result. It gets a callback in Double Fudge, where Peter's family gets invited to a showing of Mr. Fargo's work, including the now wildly popular Baby Feet paintings.
- Peter even muses that Tootsie should at least get a commission since technically she's the one making the paintings.
- There's also Anita's Anger, an abstract painting based around when Jimmy's father's (now-ex) wife angrily threw paint at him, missed and hit a blank canvas.
- Actually Pretty Funny: In Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing, Peter's father takes Peter and Fudge to a restaurant, and Fudge annoys everyone by misbehaving. Peter's father shouts at him, and Fudge shouts "Eat it or wear it!" and dumps his dish of peas over his head. Peter, who was previously annoyed and embarrassed by his brother, can't stop laughing.
- Alliterative Name: Maryanne Markman from Otherwise Known As Sheila The Great.
- Alpha Bitch: Sheila. In the book that is written from Sheila's point of view, both she and her older sister Libby qualify. Neither girl seems to be especially popular, though. Sheila even describes Mouse as being "my first real life girl friend", although she is presumably at a friend's house in the beginning.
- Annoying Younger Sibling: Fudge. And to a lesser extent, Tootsie, but she isn't the focus of the series (and she's still a baby).
- Berserk Button: Fudge will only respond to his nickname. His initial kindergarten teacher discovers this when, after she insists on calling him by one of his legal names, he kicks her in the shin and climbs on top of a shelf in protest, resulting in his transfer to the other kindergarten class. Peter sometimes pushes the button.
- Big Brother Instinct: Peter has a few moments where he willingly helps Fudge.
- Big Friendly Dog: Turtle, even though he slobbers quite a lot. In the T.V. version, he's a Saint Bernard.
- Book Ends: Lampshaded. The first book ends with Fudge eating Peter's pet turtle. The last book has Mini, Fudge's cousin and Expy, eating Fudge's tooth. Peter points out the similarity in both of the situations.
- Black Best Friend: Jimmy in the adaptations.
- Butt Monkey: Peter.
- Bratty Half-Pint: Fudge fills this role, mostly because Tootsie is still a baby. Among his exploits are making a mess in a restaurant, jumping off of the jungle gym (and getting Peter in trouble) scribbling all over the school project that Peter, Sheila, and Jimmy had worked on for weeks, and then (after Peter persuaded his parents to let him get a lock on the door of his room) managed to unlock Peter's bedroom door and eat his turtle. In Fudge-a-mania he then mocks Peter about it and then has the gall to get upset when Peter pours his punch over Fudge's head.
- Catch Phrase: Fudge's "Eat it or wear it" in Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing and Uncle Feather's "Bonjour, stupid!" in Superfudge.
- Comic-Book Time: Despite the decade-long gaps between books, each book is set in the time it was written (although newer editions of some of the books have been revised to update the cultural references), and the characters only seem to age a year between each book. Peter goes from talking to the elevator operator to instant messaging from the fourth to seventh grade.
- Cowardly Lion: Sheila is afraid of quite a bit in the Tarrytown countryside.
- Convenience Store Gift Shopping: Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing has Peter being given a picture dictionary, which is more suitable for a preschooler than the preteen that he is. Ugh. At least he has enough tact to pretend to be enthused. Fudge, on the other hand, brings out their old copy of the same book, then when it happens again at his birthday party throws it across the room.
- Dinner with the Boss: "Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing" has Fudge wreak havoc at one of these (with a client at an advertising agency), and it's implied that the agency lost the account because of this, though the abysmal sales for the drink Juicy-O were also responsible. The connection is made more direct in the TV adaptation, Superfudge.
- Dead Guy Junior: Of a sort. After Fudge eats Dribble, Peter's pet turtle, in Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, their parents buy Peter a dog - whom Peter names Turtle.
- Deadpan Snarker: Peter has elements of this. When his parents nickname his new baby sister Tootsie, after having already nicknamed his little brother Fudge, he dryly wonders (to himself) if what they really wanted was a candy store.
- December-December Romance: In Fudge-a-Mania, Peter's widowed grandmother marries Sheila's widowed grandfather, making the archenemies step-cousins.
- Embarrassing Old Photo: Peter's parents have one of him as a toddler, naked and holding a broom.
- Everybody Knew Already: In Superfudge, Peter is asked by his parents to humor Fudge's belief in Santa, despite never having believed himself. After receiving his coveted red bicycle, Fudge confides to Peter that he's never believed, either, and pretends for their parents' sake.
- Exact Words: Fudge describes Peter's Myna Bird Uncle Feather as having a "yellow nose", and refuses to call it a bill. This leads to more than one conversation with a confused adult. One character even assumes that Uncle Feather is Fudge's uncle.
- First Pet Story: Peter caring for Dribble in "Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing".
- Food Slap: In Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing, Fudge becomes so irritating with his food strike and his becoming "the family dog" that Warren takes him into the bathroom, sits him in the tub, and dumps a whole bowl of cereal over Fudge's head. From there came Fudge's favorite expression, "eat it or wear it". Peter later does this in Fudge-a-mania when Fudge mocks him about eating Dribble, Peter's pet turtle. And Fudge has the gall to get upset.
- Girls Have Cooties: In Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing, Sheila Tubman used to tease Peter Hatcher by touching him and saying he's got the cooties, even up to the fourth grade. It's after Peter's brother Fudge falls off the jungle gym set, thinking he's a bird, and loses his top two front teeth that she finally stops with the cooties.
- Help, I'm Stuck!: In Otherwise Known As Sheila The Great, Sondra Van Arden gets stuck in the milk delivery chute when Sheila and her friends decide to sneak into Mouse Ellis' house to play hide-and-seek. Sondra's friends come to her rescue to get her unstuck and then tend to her wounds afterward.
- Hypocritical Heartwarming: Peter spends much of the books complaining about Fudge but does not take it well when Fudge's kindergarten teacher claims that there's something wrong with him.
"There's nothing wrong with him!"
- Inferiority Superiority Complex: In Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great, Sheila Tubman has an inferiority complex about her various fears and the fact that she cannot do certain things (such as swimming and working a yo-yo) that other kids her age can do. It causes her to act boastful, which makes even her friends feel uncomfortable around her.
- If It Tastes Bad, It Must Be Good for You: Subverted with Juicy-O, a fruit juice. This excuse is put off as bunk when Peter's dad brings home a crate of the stuff, which Peter only drinks to make his dad happy, though his dad later reveals that he hated it as well. The stuff also doesn't do well in stores; apparently the combination of several different fruit flavors doesn't taste very well.
- Jerk Ass: Daniel in Superfudge, a spoiled picky brat that invites himself to meals multiple times in the book.
- Karma Houdini: Fudge. It really says something when most of the series' Awesome Moments consist of the adults actually punishing him. May be justified to a certain extent, given he's a toddler, and little kids do tend to do stupid things on a regular basis.
- The worst instance was near the end of Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing where he eats Dribble, Peter's pet turtle. While everyone is (understandably) worried about Fudge, no one seems to consider how Peter feels on the subject. Peter eventually gets some acknowledgment for "being a good sport" through the whole thing and is given a dog, but Fudge is never punished in any way. Then again, being in the hospital for days while the doctors repeatedly feed you prune juice and other laxatives to make you poop isn't entirely unlike a punishment.
- It is Averted in later books as Fudge gets older and his bad behavior is taken more seriously, so he's punished more accordingly.
- Also averted earlier in Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing when Fudge ruins Peter's class project poster about transportation and Fudge gets a spanking for it.
- Men Can't Keep House: In one of the books, Peter's mother has to go away for a week. His father manages to keep house, but just barely and mostly through trial and error.
- Ms. Fanservice: Izzy the librarian in the movie rendition of Fudge-a-Mania, both for Peter and the viewer.
- Mocking Sing-Song: Sheila Tubman in Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing taunts Peter Hatcher and his friend Jimmy Fargo by singing they've got the cooties, until they both turn the tables and sing "Sheila's got the cooties!"
- My New Gift Is Lame: In Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Peter and Fudge receive gifts from friends of their parents. Fudge gets a toy train set. Peter gets a book aimed at children closer to Fudge's age, if not younger, and is in fact a book Fudge already owns. Peter is not impressed.
- Fudge gets another copy of the book for his birthday. Unlike Peter, who is polite enough to say "thank you", Fudge gets mad and throws the book across the room.
- No Sympathy: Subverted. When Fudge eats Peter's turtle, everyone's concerned about him, but not one person comforts Peter over the fact that his pet has been eaten - his grandma even shouts at him when he understandably asks whether or not his turtle is alive. It isn't until after Fudge recovers that Peter's parents thank him for being a good sport about the whole thing and buy him a dog.
- This trope doesn't occur in the show's version of the incident, where, instead of yelling at Peter, his grandmother sits down with him and explains that Dribble is dead.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Fudgenote , and later, baby Tootsienote . Also Sheila's friend Mousenote in Otherwise Known As Sheila The Great.
- When Fudge lost his top two front teeth, Peter wanted to call his brother Fang, but his mother was against it.
- Only Sane Man: Peter appears this way at least as often as not - though to be fair, the books are almost all from his point of view.
- Parental Favoritism: Fudge gets away with murder (literally, if pets count), while big brother Peter Can't Get Away with Nuthin' and gets repeatedly whacked over the head with An Aesop about loving his brother. However, it's shown that his parents know when to draw the line when Fudge goes too far (like ruining Peter's art project for school and their mother punishes the former with spanking).
- Ironically, once Tootsie is born, the favoritism seems to shift more to her, and the adults start taking Fudge's bad behavior more seriously and punish him accordingly for it. For example, when Fudge and his friend Daniel attempt run away from home after Peter refuses to take them both on a picnic he's having with his friend, the parents punish the younger boys by taking their bikes away for a month.
- Parents as People: Peter's parents are nice, but often butt heads with their sons over various things (moving temporarily to Princeton, having a third child, etc). Peter's mother in particular is often shown blaming Peter for Fudge's actions, and the way she fawns over Fudge in Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing after he's hospitalized for eating Peter's turtle is downright sickening when you consider that the kid did it to himself.
- Perspective Flip: Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great.
- Practical Joke: Sheila and her friends in Otherwise Known As Sheila The Great try to get even with Libby and Maryann for telling on them about their fighting with each other by covering the toilet seat with toothpaste, in the hopes that either Libby or Maryann would fall for it. Instead, the joke backfires and Sheila ends up sitting on the toothpaste.
- Precocious Crush:
Fudge: "Pete got dizzy from Izzynote at the library!"
- Pushover Parents: Subverted with Warren and Anne. While they are much more lenient with Fudge (which is sort of justified, considering his age) than they are with Peter, they do know when to lay down the law if Fudge goes too far. As Fudge gets older, they do start to take his bad behavior more seriously and punish him accordingly.
- Race Lift: The race of Peter's best friend Jimmy is never stated in the text but the illustrations in Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing seem to show a Caucasian. In the film and subsequent TV show, he's black.
- The Scapegoat: Peter, often. One example is Fudge falling and knocking out his two front teeth in Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. This somehow was Peter's fault, even though Sheila was babysitting Fudge at the time. To be fair, his mother does apologize for it later after she cools down.
- School Newspaper Newshound: Sheila tries her hand at putting together a newsletter for the summer camp program in Otherwise Known As Sheila The Great, only to run into various problems such as getting the mimeograph machine to run off copies of her newsletter.
- School Play: In Otherwise Known As Sheila The Great, the Tarrytown summer camp program that Sheila and Libby were part of was hosting a production of Peter Pan. Libby wanted to get the role of Wendy, but instead was given that of Captain Hook, which she despised but made the best use of and even got applause for performing so well. Besides Maryann Markman as Wendy being unable to recite her lines, another problem with the production was that the archway kept falling to the side, which required Sheila and her friend Mouse to hold up during the entire production.
- Shout-Out: In Double Fudge, Sheila mentions having read a book about a girl who doesn't speak after she has a traumatic event occur to her.
- In Fudge-a-Mania, Fudge becomes friends with Mitzi, the protagonist of the children's book Tell Me a Mitzi. This prompts him to write his own book, Tell Me a Fudge; he gives the only copy to his grandmother as a wedding gift.
- Slumber Party: Sheila and her friends have one in Otherwise Known As Sheila The Great.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Sheila; later analysis shows that she's insecure and a bit cowardly, and well aware of it. Her Small Name Big Ego routine is partly a defense mechanism.
- Sympathetic P.O.V.: Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great, a side-story featuring Peter's Sitcom Arch-Nemesis, Sheila Tubman.
- The Talk: In Superfudge, Fudge gets a book from his parents explaining the birds and the bees and proceeds to share his newfound knowledge with everyone he meets. He even tells a pregnant woman on the subway "I know what's inside you, and I know how it got there too".
- Theme Naming: Lampshaded by Peter when he notes that he now has siblings nicknamed "Fudge" and "Tootsie". He openly wonders how he got off so lucky.
Maybe what my parents really wanted was a candy factory.
- Thumbtack on the Chair: A variation of this prank is the toothpaste on the toilet seat, which Sheila and her friends tried to pull on Libby and Maryann in Otherwise Known As Sheila The Great. However, the prank backfired and Sheila ended up sitting on the toilet seat with the toothpaste still on it.
- True Art Is Incomprehensible: In-universe. Fudge-a-Mania has Peter and Fudge's little sister accidentally getting into an artist's paint and wandering over his canvas, leaving behind little blue footprints. The artist thinks it looks stunning and wants her to help him make more paintings. The paintings later turn out to be a huge hit, enough of one that the Fargos can move out of their one-bedroom apartment and into a new one in Soho.
- Underdressed for the Occasion: As noted above, Peter's grandmother and Sheila's grandfather get married in the course of the series. Their wedding attire consists of matching black and white sweatsuits.
- The Unfavorite: Peter often feels like this.
- Unfortunate Names: Farley Drexel Hatcher?!
- Vitriolic Best Buds: While Peter and Sheila have made it clear that they'll always hate each other, they do seem to hang around each other regardless. Pete's relationship with Jimmy Fargo also borders on this.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Sheila's fear of dogs, which comes to the fore once Peter gets Turtle, but then later gets turned sideways when she gets a dog of her own. Apparently, Jake (her dog, who is female) is the exception to the rule.