Part of the classic Fudge series from Judy Blume, bestselling author of Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.
Who is Sheila Tubman? Even Sheila isn’t sure. Sometimesshe feels like confident Sheila the Great, and other timesshe’s secret Sheila, who’s afraid of spiders, swimming,and, most of all, dogs. When her family decides to leavethe city for a summer in the country, Sheila will haveto suffer everything from long-eared dogs to swimminglessons to creepy spiders. That’s enough to drive a city girlnuts! If she survives at all, Sheila may be forced to admitthat she’s no supergirl.
“As a kid, Judy Blume was my favorite author, and Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing was my favorite book.”—Jeff Kinney, author of the bestselling Wimpy Kid series
Love Fudge, Peter, and Sheila? Read all these books featuring your favorite characters:
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
About the Author
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing is the first in a five-book series about Peter, Fudge, and Sheila. Judy lives with her husband in Key West and New York City.You can visit her at judyblume.com.
Hometown:New York's Upper East Side, Key West, and Martha's Vineyard
Date of Birth:February 12, 1938
Place of Birth:Elizabeth, New Jersey
Education:B.S. in education, New York University, 1961
Read an Excerpt
Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great
By JUDY BLUME
PUFFIN BOOKSCopyright © 1972 Judy Blume
All right reserved.
Chapter OneI'm glad there's only one more week of school before summer vacation. Today was so hot! My clothes stuck to me and my brain felt all tired out. I didn't even finish my math in school. So now I have to do it for homework.
I walked into the lobby of my apartment building thinking how good a big, cold drink would taste. I pushed the Up elevator button and waited. When the elevator got to the lobby Henry opened the gate and I stepped in. Just as he was about to take me upstairs Peter Hatcher and his dumb old dog came tearing down the hall.
"Wait up, Henry!" Peter called. "Here I come."
"Please don't wait, Henry," I said. "The elevator's too small for that dog."
But Henry opened the gate and waited. "This elevator can hold ten people or the equivalent," Henry said. "And I figure that dog is the equivalent of a person and a half. So with me and you and Peter and that dog we've still only got four and a half people."
Sometimes I wish Henry didn't spend so much time thinking.
"Hi, Henry," Peter said. "Thanks for waiting."
"Any time, Peter," Henry told him.
"Excuse me, please," I said, stepping out of the elevator. I held my nose. "I can't ride up with that dog. He stinks!"
My heart was beating so loud I was sure Henry and Peter could hear it. And I know Turtle, the dog, was laughing at me. He stuck out his tongue and licked the corners of his mouth. I'll bet he could taste me already! I walked down the hall with my head held high, saying, "P.U."
Henry called, "Ten flights up is a long walk, Sheila."
"I don't mind," I called back.
Henry was right. Ten flights up is a long walk. By the time I got to my floor I was huffing and puffing so hard I had to sit down on the landing and rest. Little drips of sweat ran from my face down to my neck. Still, I think it's pretty smart of me to pretend that I hate Turtle because he smells. I always hold my nose when I see Peter coming with him. That way Peter will never know the truth!
After a few minutes I wiped my face with the back of my hand and walked down the hall to our apartment. Mrs. Reese is the only person on our floor with a dog. And I don't worry too much about her. Because her dog is so small she carries him around in her arms. She calls him Baby and knits him little sweaters to wear in the winter.
I pushed open our apartment door and went straight into the kitchen to get something to drink.
"Is that you, Sheila?" my mother called.
"Yes," I answered.
"Did you have fun at Laurie's?"
"Yes," I said, gulping down a whole can of apple juice.
"Is it still hot out?" Mom asked.
"Did you remember to bring home a quart of milk?"
Oh oh! I knew I forgot something.
"Sheila ... did you bring home the milk?" Mom called again.
"No ... I forgot."
I went into the living room then. My mother was reading a book. The CD player was on and my sister Libby was twirling around in her pink toe slippers. She is thirteen and thinks she's a great ballerina. I could hold my nose for the way Libby dances, but I'd get into big trouble if I did.
My mother said, "You better go back down and get the milk, Sheila."
I flopped into the big chair that tilts back and said, "I can't, Mom. I'm dead. I just walked up the stairs."
"Don't tell me the elevator is out of order!" Mom said.
"Then why did you walk up ten flights of stairs?"
"I don't know," I said. "I just felt like it."
"Sheila, that was a very foolish thing to do in this heat," Mom told me. "Now go into your room and lie down for a while before supper."
"Do I have to?" I asked.
"Yes, you do. Libby will go to the store and get the milk."
Libby did three flying leaps before she said, "Can't you see I'm in the middle of a routine?"
"Your routine can wait," Mom said. "I need the milk for supper and Daddy will be home soon."
"But, Mother! I'm in my leotard," Libby said.
Libby used to say Mom, like me. But since she started junior high it's Mother this and Mother that. She is very strange.
Mom told Libby, "You can put a skirt over your leotard and nobody will notice." Then she looked at me. "Sheila, what are you waiting for? I said go and lie down."
"Okay ... okay," I said. "I'm going." I took off my shoes and arranged them on the floor so that the toes pointed toward my bedroom.
I line them up every day before my father comes home. It's part of a private game Daddy and I play. I am always hiding somewhere and Daddy has to find me. His only clue is my shoes. I invented this game when I was seven and we've been playing it ever since.
Libby said when she was ten she acted a lot more grown-up than me. I think she missed out on some good fun. Anyway, Daddy would be disappointed if I stopped playing our game.
Libby and I share a bedroom. I stretched out on my bed while Libby turned the closet upside down looking for a skirt.
"You are a pain!" she said to me. "You know that, Sheila? You are a real live pain!"
I didn't answer her.
"Why'd you walk up the stairs ... huh?"
I still didn't answer.
"Did you see a dog in the elevator? I'll bet that's it. I'll bet Mrs. Reese was in the elevator with Baby."
"Wrong!" I said.
Libby finally found a skirt and pulled it on over her leotard. "Then I'll bet it was Peter Hatcher and Turtle."
"Maybe it was and maybe it wasn't," I said.
"Chicken chicken chicken," Libby called as she left.
I put my hands over my ears to show I wasn't even listening.
Libby got back with the milk right before Daddy got home for supper. I jumped off my bed and crawled under it when I heard him say, "Hello, I'm home."
I knew Daddy found my shoes when he called, "Ah ha! I'm coming to find a Sheila!"
It really isn't very hard for him to find me. There aren't that many places where I can hide. We only have five rooms. Still, Daddy always pretends that he doesn't have any idea where I might be.
When he came into my room he started opening my dresser drawers. He said, "Hmmm, no Sheila in here. No Sheila in there either."
I laughed. Daddy knows I wouldn't fit into a dresser drawer. And as soon as I laughed he lifted my bedspread and looked under the bed.
"Ah ha! I found a Sheila!"
I crawled out and kissed Daddy hello. Libby walked in then. "I don't think you should encourage her to be such a baby," she told Daddy.
"I am not a baby!" I shouted.
"Then why don't you stop playing baby games?" Libby asked.
"All right, Libby," Daddy said. "That's enough!"
"You see," Libby said. "You're always on her side!"
"I'm not on anyone's side," Daddy said. "Let's forget about this and go have our supper. I've got some news for you."
I was sure Daddy's news would be about our summer plans. We've been waiting and waiting to find out what we're going to do this summer. I wanted to take a trip to Disneyland but Mom and Daddy said That's out of the question.
When we sat down at the table and started to eat Daddy said, "We got the house!"
"Oh, Buzz," Mom said. "That's wonderful!"
I wish people would stop calling my father Buzz and start calling him Bertram. That's his real name. I feel so silly having a father named Buzz.
"What house?" Libby asked.
"In Tarrytown," Daddy told her. "It belongs to a professor at Marymount who's spending the summer in England."
My father is a professor at Marymount College too. He teaches English. Libby says when she is old enough to go to college she is not going to Marymount because there aren't enough boys around there. Libby thinks boys are very important. Libby is sick!
"It sounds nice," Mom said. "Anything's better than the city in July and August."
"I hope there's something to do in Tarrytown," Libby said. "I really wanted to go to the beach this summer."
I happen to know that is because Libby has a new bikini and she wants to show it off.
"You'll like Tarrytown," Daddy told Libby. "There's a pool down the road from our house and there's a very good day camp...."
Libby interrupted. "I'm much too old for day camp, Father! You know that."
"Not this one," Daddy said. "It's special. You can't even go if you're not at least ten. It's a cultural arts camp."
"I'm no good at art, Father. You know that too," Libby said.
"Art includes theater, music, and dancing," Daddy told her.
"Dancing?" Libby asked.
Then Mom and Daddy got these big smiles on their faces. I'm sure they knew all along that Libby would be very happy once she found out she could spend the summer on her dumb old toes!
"Oh, Father ... oh, Mother!" Libby cried.
"I wanted to go to Disneyland," I said.
"We told you that was out of the question," Mom said.
"I know. But I still wanted to go."
"In Tarrytown you can have your own bedroom," Daddy said.
"Yes. There are four bedrooms in Professor Egran's house."
I thought that over. My own bedroom. That sounded pretty good.
"And you can learn to swim," Mom said.
"I don't want to learn to swim," I told her.
"We'll see," she said. "We don't have to decide now."
"Can my bedroom be far away from Libby's?"
"We'll see about that too," Mom said. "Now finish your string beans."
The next day I told Peter Hatcher, "I'm going away for the whole summer. I'm going to have my own bedroom."
"Goody for you!" he said.
"So you don't have to wash your dog. Because I won't be around to tell you how bad he smells!"
"My dog said to tell you he thinks you smell too," Peter said. Then he went off with Jimmy Fargo and they both laughed and laughed. They think they're so funny! I don't know why I used to waste my time playing "cooties" with them. Maybe next year I'll get lucky. Maybe Peter Hatcher and Jimmy Fargo won't be in my fifth-grade class.
I met Mrs. Reese in the hall. "I'm going away for the whole summer," I said. "I'm going to have my own bedroom, with flowered wallpaper and frilly curtains and little lamps shaped like candles."
And she said, "Aren't you lucky! Baby would like to go away too, but he doesn't have any place to go."
I told Henry I'd be away for two whole months. "I'm going to sleep in my own bedroom, in my own canopy bed!"
Henry said, "I'll really miss you, Sheila. Who's going to remind me how many people the elevator can hold?"
Henry and I laughed together. "And did I tell you about the rug on my bedroom floor?" I asked.
"No," Henry said. "You didn't mention that."
"Well, it's very soft and fluffy and it's all yellow except for a big red rose right in the center. It feels so good on your feet you never have to wear slippers. Not all summer long."
"That sounds mighty nice, Sheila."
I thought so too. The more I talked about it the better is sounded. Spending the summer in the country. Spending the summer in Tarrytown. Spending the summer in a house. Spending the summer in my own beautiful bedroom!
It started to sound almost as good as going to Disneyland. I didn't even mind the packing and the ride to Tarrytown. I couldn't wait to see the house. I couldn't wait to see my bedroom.
And then I found out about Jennifer.
Chapter TwoJennifer is small with brown and white spots and long ears. When Libby saw her she cried, "Oh, what an adorable dog!"
"She comes with the house," Daddy said. "She belongs to Professor Egran and she's ours for the summer."
"I'm going back to the car," I said.
Daddy held my arm. "She can't hurt you."
"Oh sure," I said, pulling away from him. "But I'll just wait in the car until you decide what to do with her. Because I'm not staying here if she does!" I ran down the road, jumped into our car, and started to shake. How could they do this to me? Their own child. Their own younger daughter. Didn't they understand? Didn't they care?
Daddy and Mom hurried to the car. Mom stuck her head in the open window. "Sheila," she said, "Jennifer is very small. She's more afraid of you than you are of her."
"Did she tell you that?" I asked.
Daddy said, "She's got a doghouse and a fenced-in area. She's chained up. You don't have to go near her."
"Suppose she gets away?" I asked. "Suppose her chain breaks?"
"That won't happen," Daddy said. "But even if it did, someone would catch her."
"You're just saying that!" I told Daddy. "But you don't mean it."
"Have we ever lied to you?" Mom asked.
"Well ... no."
"Then trust us," Daddy said.
I looked out the car window. Libby was cuddling Jennifer. "You promise she'll never come into the house?"
"I promise," Daddy said. "She's got everything she needs outside."
"And you won't make me go near her?"
"Of course not," Mom said. "You can even pretend she's not there if you want."
"And you won't make fun of me?"
"Do we ever make fun of you?" Daddy asked.
"Libby does," I said.
"We'll see that she doesn't," Mom promised.
"Now, don't you want to come into the house and see your very own bedroom?" Daddy asked.
"Well ... I guess so," I said, getting out of the car.
We walked up the front lawn to the house. Libby was still holding Jennifer. When Jennifer saw me coming she jumped off Libby's lap. She barked and barked.
"You see!" I cried, turning around, ready to run back to the car. "She hates me already!"
"Don't be silly," Daddy said. He took my hand.
"I'm not being silly. Why else would she bark like that?"
"Because she doesn't know you," Mom said, putting an arm around me.
"And she's never going to, either. I'll tell you that!"
We went into the house. The downstairs looked pretty nice, but I wanted to see my bedroom. So Daddy and I went upstairs while Libby and Mom poked around in the kitchen.
Daddy turned right at the top of the stairs and walked down the hall. "Two of the bedrooms are this way and the other two are that way," Daddy said, pointing. "Since you wanted to be far away from Libby I thought you might like this one." Daddy pushed open a door and smiled.
I went in. The first thing I saw was the dresser. It was piled with models of planes, boats, and cars. And the walls were full of team pennants. There wasn't even a bedspread on the bed. Just an ugly old gray blanket with CAMP KENABEC printed across it. I opened the closet door. The shelves were loaded with sports equipment. And where was my soft, fluffy, yellow rug with the big rose in the middle? No place. The floor was bare!
Daddy said, "Well...."
"I hate it!" I shouted, running out of the room, past Daddy, and down the hall. I looked into the other bedrooms. But they were all the same.
"They're all boys' rooms!" I cried.
Excerpted from Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great by JUDY BLUME Copyright © 1972 by Judy Blume.
Excerpted by permission.
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