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Literature / Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great

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Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great is a 1972 children's book by Judy Blume. It features Sheila Tubman, a supporting character from the FUDGE series, as she makes friends and faces her anxieties over the course of a summer vacation in Tarrytown, NY.

This book contains examples of:

  • A-Cup Angst: Libby has this, she is a ballet student so having a very slender physique and small breasts make sense for her craft, but she grows jealous when the cute lifeguard pays attention to a girl with a more filled out bikini.
  • Alliterative Name: Maryanne Markman.
  • Alpha Bitch: Both Sheila and her older sister Libby qualify. Neither girl seems to be especially popular, though. Sheila even describes Mouse as being "my first real-life girlfriend," although she seems to be at a friend's house in the beginning of the book.
  • Blah, Blah, Blah: Sheila and her friends get into a fight with each other over what they wrote about each other in their Slam Books. Sheila's sister Libby and her friend Maryann Markman interrupt it and Maryann gets hit by one of the models in Sheila's bedroom that gets thrown around. Libby threatens to make this fight in the bedroom known to their parents, and Sheila and her friends respond to that threat with "blah blah blah," getting Libby and Maryann to leave the room.
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  • The Cameo: Peter Hatcher and his dog Turtle show up in the first chapter, and Sheila also mentions them a few more times throughout the story. She also mentions Fudge at one point, but not by name.
  • Cowardly Lion: Sheila is afraid of quite a bit in the Tarrytown countryside. Thanks to her parents signing her up for swimming lessons and hanging out with Mouse, however, she manages to face some of her fears.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Sheila and her friends actually plan to enact this on Libby and Maryann for telling their parents about the slumber party fight. Thing is that Libby was well within her rights to do so since Maryann got hit in the crossfire. Sheila decides to cover the toilet seat in toothpaste and waits to hear the scream.
  • Does Not Like Shoes:
    • Denise the camp counselor. One day Sheila discovers the reason Denise doesn't wear shoes is because the bottoms of her feet are "covered in warts".
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    • Zigzagged with Sheila. She likes to go barefoot, but is afraid to do so outside for fear of injuring her feet.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Sheila is curious why her father, Bertram Tubman Jr., does not object to being called "Buzz".
  • Everybody Knew Already: The fill-in-opinions sleepover game reveals that none of Shiela's friends buy her "not scared of anything" act.
  • Fear of Thunder: Sheila has this, but she's more afraid that she will get struck by lightning whenever a thunderstorm occurs.
  • George Lucas Altered Version: The book was edited in post-2002 reprints to update cultural references and technology. A significant difference involves the sequence where Sheila starts a newsletter for the summer camp, typing it up on a typewriter and duplicating it with a mimeograph machine; in the 1972 version, those were just what the camp had, while the 2002 version adds an explanation that Sheila had to resort to old devices because the camp's computer was being used by an adult and the photocopier was broken.
  • Help, I'm Stuck!: 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.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Sheila and her friends booby-trap the bathroom toilet seat by coating it with toothpaste, hoping Sheila's sister will sit down without looking. Not only does it fail to fool Libby, but Sheila herself forgets about it overnight and gets a toothpaste-covered rear in the morning.
  • Inferiority Superiority Complex: Sheila 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. It gets to the point where they call her a know-it-all during a slumber party and can't find any good things to say about her (except for the rather vague "there's hope").
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Libby is a brat at times but sometimes accurately pinpoints her sister's issues. At the beginning of the book, she tells Sheila that she can't keep hiding from her fears forever, such as dogs. It turns out her parents agree, at least about swimming. Much later, she tells off Sheila for tossing out the models that belong to the boy in whose room she is sharing, especially when Maryann gets hit in the crossfire. Sheila does admit that they have to fix them and that she hopes to never meet the boy Bobby in question.
  • Nobody Likes a Tattletale: Sheila thinks that Libby tattled on her and her friends out of spite. As a result, they try to prank back Libby and Maryann.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Sheila's friend Mouse, whose real name is Merle Ellis.
  • Performance Anxiety: Maryann Markman turns out to have this when she gets the part of Wendy for Peter Pan. She sings nice and loud during rehearsals, but when someone who's not with the play sits down to watch a rehearsal she mumbles and mutters softly. On the night of the play, she sings low but very sweetly, and then later on after Captain Hook (Libby)'s number, Maryann is frozen with stage fright and is unable to recite her lines for that scene, so Sheila has to say them for her without the audience noticing the difference.
  • Practical Joke: Sheila and her friends 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.
  • Properly Paranoid: Bobby, the boy who lives in the room that Sheila is sleeping in, keeps warning her not to touch his model airplanes. Sheila scoffs that she isn't interested. It turns out that most of them get broken, and one damaged beyond repair when she gets into a fight at her slumber party. Sheila is truly remorseful about it.
  • School Newspaper Newshound: Sheila tries her hand at putting together a newsletter for the summer camp program, only to run into various problems such as getting the mimeograph machine to run off copies of her newsletter.
  • School Play: The Tarrytown summer camp program that Sheila and Libby are part of hosts a production of Peter Pan. Libby wants to get the role of Wendy, but instead is given that of Captain Hook, which she despises but made the best use of and even gets applause for performing so well. Besides Maryann Markman as Wendy being unable to recite her lines, another problem with the production is that the archway keeps falling to the side, which requires Sheila and Mouse to hold it up during the entire production.
  • Slumber Party: Sheila and her friends have one. It goes wrong when they all start fighting and tossing Bobby's model airplanes.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Sheila; 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.: Sheila Tubman was introduced in Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing as Peter's Sitcom Arch-Nemesis. Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great shows the world from her point of view. Even in this book, she has a few Jerkass moments.
  • Thumbtack on the Chair: A variation of this prank is the toothpaste on the toilet seat, which Sheila and her friends try to pull on Libby and Maryann. However, the prank backfires and Sheila ends up sitting on the toilet seat with the toothpaste still on it.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Libby and Maryann quite accurately tell off Sheila for tossing out Bobby's model airplanes with her friends in a fight and destroying one beyond repair. Sheila is actually remorseful, as are the girls when they realize what they did.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Sheila's fear of dogs, which lasts throughout the entire book until she ponders the idea of having her own dog. A later book shows that while she is still afraid of some dogs (especially Peter Hatcher's dog Turtle), she adores her dog.