Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great

(Fudge, #2)

Sheila Tubman sometimes wonders who she really is: the outgoing, witty, and capable Sheila the Great, or the secret Sheila, who's afraid of the dark, spiders, swimming, and dogs.

When her family spends the summer in Tarrytown, Sheila has to face some of her worst fears. Not only does a dog come with the rented house, but her parents expect Sheila to take swimming lessons! Sheila does her best to pretend she's an expert at everything, but she knows she isn't fooling her new best friend, Mouse Ellis, who happens to be a crackerjack swimmer and a dog lover.

What will it take for Sheila to admit to the Tarrytown kids -- and to herself -- that she's only human?

I grew up mainly reading Judy Blume's teenage books and always falling in love with them. I did read some of her kid books as well, such as Blubber, but what fun this was to revisit as an adult.

Sheila isn't the most likeable sort with her traits but this makes her more realistic. Her inner musings about various fears and her unique ways of seeing things crack me up. In a distant way this book reminds me of an early, female, novelized version of Diary of a Wimpy kid novels.  Here she's struggling with a family trip and being away, and also having to act braver around her new friend, Mouse, who seems much braver with every circumstance. The humor of the make believe and having to put up a front which is not real sounds about right for what kids go through. Of course there are exaggerations to make it work better as an enjoyable book.

This was received poorer among readers of the series for not having Fudge in it. Sheila is the role here and takes all the stage through random adventures. In a way it would make sense for Blume to have made this not part of the "Fudge" series, but since it's the rest of the same cast and they wanted to benefit from the payroll of the first book, it makes sense as well to keep it part of the series. 

Blume has such a way with words and making characters exciting for all ages in the most ordinary of circumstances. Here there's some exaggerated humor that works wonderfully with the type and age. I love how Blume always wrote a book perfect for the age group she aimed for, but used words and hints that adults would get and understand as well.

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