Peter Hatcher tells humorous stories about his little brother, Farley Drexel Hatcher, who everyone calls Fudge because he hates the name Farley. Peter is several years older than Fudge, and the age gap between them is part of what makes the series. Peter is old enough that he has long grown out of the phases that Fudge goes through. He often has to help look after Fudge, and Fudge drives him crazy because of the trouble he gets into or the embarrassing things he does. He hates it when Fudge seems like he can get away with anything just because he’s cute and little, while their parents are hard on him (Peter) because he’s older and therefore more responsible. But, at the same time, Peter kind of sees the humor in the things Fudge does, especially when someone else, like his parents or Sheila, a bossy know-it-all girl Peter knows from school who also sometimes baby-sits for Fudge, has to clean up after Fudge.
The books are usually episodic, but not exactly short stories. They’re more like a string of little incidents that all tie together and are part of some bigger story, like how Peter eventually got a dog named Turtle because he used to have a small pet turtle but Fudge killed it by eating it (because their parents told them about turtle soup), so their grandmother got a dog for Peter because she knew how upset he was about his pet (this is also my least favorite story in the series) and decided that he needed a pet that would be too big for Fudge to eat.
Although Fudge is kind of the star and title character in the books, the stories are told from the point of view of Peter, and they are really more about Peter’s experiences than Fudge’s. The stories show how Peter’s life is influenced by his little brother, but they also include Peter’s feelings about other things and his interactions with friends his own age. Peter’s role in his family is that of a much-older brother, and it does affect many areas of his life. In the later books, Peter and Fudge also have a younger sister, called Tootsie.
Books in the Series:
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
When the series begins, Peter is a fourth-grader, and Fudge is only three years old. Fudge gets so much attention from their parents and is able to get away with causing so much trouble that Peter is feeling neglected. Then, Fudge goes and eats Peter’s pet turtle. While everyone else is happy that Fudge made it through his ordeal, Peter can’t help but notice that no one is thinking about the poor turtle . . . or him.
Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great
This book is told from Sheila’s point of view. Over the summer, Sheila gets into situations that force her to face two of her greatest fears: dogs and swimming. The most difficult part of facing her fears is first admitting that she even has them.
This is the only book in the series without Peter and Fudge in it, but it’s still kind of part of the series because Sheila is a major character in the other books.
Peter and Fudge learn that their mother is expecting another baby, and neither of them likes the sound of that. Peter thinks that dealing with one younger brother is already a handful, and Fudge doesn’t like the idea of another little kid taking his place as the youngest.
Peter finds out that he’s going to have to share his family vacation with the awful Sheila and her family because the families have gone together to rent a house in Maine. Worse than that, when romance blossoms between his grandmother and Sheila’s grandfather, will Peter and Sheila be able to stand becoming . . . relatives?
Fudge becomes obsessed with money, wanting to buy the entire world (or at least an entire Toys R Us). Then, the Hatcher family meets some distant relatives who are annoyingly stuck-up and have a young son also named “Farley.” When these relatives come for an extended visit, Peter finds himself putting up with two Fudges!