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Children's Literature Reviews
Item 1 of 1

Fig pudding
by Ralph Fletcher.
Contributor biographical information
Publisher description
New York : Clarion Books, c1995.
136 p. ; 21 cm.


Cliff describes the excitement, conflict, and sudden tragedy experienced by his large and boisterous family during his eleventh year.

Best Books:

Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
Children's Catalog, Nineteenth Edition, 2006 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
Notable Children's Books, 1996 ; American Library Association ALSC; United States

Awards, Honors, Prizes:

Society of School Librarians International Book Awards, 1995 Honor Elementary Language Arts K-6 United States
Virginia Young Readers Program, 1998 Winner Elementary Virginia

State and Provincial Reading Lists:

Great Stone Face Award, 1996-1997 ; Nominee; New Hampshire
Iowa Children's Choice Award, 1998-1999 ; Nominee; Iowa
Mark Twain Award, 1997-1998 ; Nominee; Missouri
Utah Children's Book Awards, 1997 ; Nominee; Children's Fiction; Utah
Virginia State Young Readers' Award, 1998 ; Nominee; Elementary School Level, Grades 3-5; Virginia
William Allen White Children's Book Award, 1997-1998 ; Master List; Kansas

Reading Measurement Programs:

Reading Counts-Scholastic
Interest Level 3-5
Reading Level 5
Title Point Value 8
Lexile Measure 620


Sharon (BookHive (
There is always something crazy happening in the Abernathy family. Clifford Allyn Abernathy III (Cliff), the oldest of six children, reveals how his family constantly gets into mischief. Some examples are Cliff's sister, Cyn deciding to trade families, Cliff stuffing his fishing tackle box with old clothes and diapers, and an unexpected ingredient getting added to the family's annual fig pudding. Read this great book and learn about the surprising turn of events that tests the Abernathy's strength as a family. Category: Humor; Realistic Fiction. Grade Level: Intermediate (4th-6th grade). 1995, Clarion Books. Ages 9 to 12.

Chris Sherman (Booklist, May 15, 1995 (Vol. 91, No. 18))
Twelve-year-old Cliff, the oldest of six children ("Abernathys always overdo everything" ), recalls the past year in episodes focusing on his brothers and his sister. The year was bittersweet. There were good times, but there were also ones he'd like to forget--among them, the death of one brother, an event that will move readers to tears. Fletcher captures perfectly the humor, irritations, and sadness of life in a large, close-knit family and makes Cliff a sympathetic and thoughtful narrator, occasionally bewildered by his siblings' antics but always a completely believable older brother. The comedy in the final chapter will leave readers recalling hilarious family disasters of their own. Category: Middle Readers. 1995, Clarion, $14.95. Gr. 5-7.

CCBC (Cooperative Children's Book Center Choices, 1995)
Looking back on an eventful year, Cliff Abernathy observes his family's quirky traits and sibling rivalries in a voice that alternates between an eleven-year-old's hilarious sarcasm and loving pride. At the same time, he chronicles the both joyous occasions and heart-rending sorrow that make the year most memorable. The narrative takes a turn in tone, but not substance, with the sudden, shocking death of Cliff's younger brother, Brad, in an accident. Cliff's description of his family members' grief and pain, and the start of their healing, is powerfully authentic, as well as hopeful: life, including the laughter, does, indeed, go on. CCBC categories: FICTION FOR CHILDREN. 1995, Clarion, 136 pages, $14.95. Ages 10-13.

Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, 1995)
A book about a big happy family, with lots of laughter, lots of cooking, and lots of eating; it opens with Cliff, the 11-year-old narrator and oldest of six children, "getting ready to dig into a steaming plate of French toast," and closes with his whole family laughing so hard that tears are running down their faces. Each of the siblings quickly establishes a comic persona, and occasionally all of them talk at once in the polyphonic, laugh-out-loud episodes from everyday life -- the kind of cozy family plots found in sitcoms. Viewing this brood through the eyes of the sympathetic Cliff, readers quickly get attached to all of them. When one of them -- almost without warning -- dies, Cliff must adjust his easygoing storytelling, to which he has committed himself, to accommodate this tragic event. He does a remarkably good job, compromising neither his tone, nor the event of his brother's death. Sensitive to all the potential problems of the disparity between the substance and the style of his book, Fletcher displays an extremely gentle touch. 1995, Clarion, $14.95. © 1995 Kirkus Reviews/VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly)
Twelve-year-old Cliff, the eldest of the six Abernathy children, looks back on a year that feels like ``five years crammed into one. With plenty of stuff I want to remember forever. And stuff I wish I could forget.'' In a style reminiscent of Cheaper by the Dozen, this warm story (unobtrusively set in what seems to be the '70s) neatly blends the humor and frustrations of growing up in a large family headed by two sanguine parents. Each chapter, while centering around a particular child, subtly weaves together household events, large and small. In the first vignette, the youngest child is hospitalized just before Christmas and asks only for a ``yidda yadda'' from Santa; the family eventually interprets the demand as a ``little ladder'' and everyone works all night to build one. The episodes smoothly move forward to the family's ultimate crisis: Brad, the gentlest of the children, is killed while riding his bicycle. With remarkable restraint and understatement, Fletcher (I Am Wings: Poems About Love) conveys the bewilderment and grief as each of the Abernathys reacts to this loss. A hopeful ending implies that Brad's memory will live on in the family's exchanges. Ages 8-12. (Apr.)

Roger Sutton (The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, May 1995 (Vol. 48, No. 9))
In a series of linked, short-story-like episodes, twelve-year-old Cliff recalls what turned out to be a rough year in his family's life. It's a big family-six kids-and while sibling tussles are the order of the day, bonds remain strong even when second-grader Teddy seems doomed to sit in exile beneath the kitchen table forever for his various transgressions, or when lone sister Cyn decides she'd much rather belong to the vegetarian family down the street. None of them is prepared for the sudden death of eight-year-old Brad in a bicycling accident, and, truthfully, neither are readers, for Brad, despite a memorable evening when he ate the heads off of everybody's marshmallow chickens, is fictionally the least developed of the family members. While we perhaps aren't as saddened by the death as we seem meant to be, the grief of Cliff and the others is palpable and honest in its range of manifestations. References to a grandmother's having fought for suffrage and an uncle's having fought in World War II seem to set the book sometime in the 1960s or early '70s, and the book has the quality of an affectionate family memoir, with humor triumphing over sadness and funny specifics (punishment goes for naught when it's discovered that Teddy likes life under the table) that give the book a warm particularity. R--Recommended. Reviewed from galleys (c) Copyright 1995, The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. 1995, Clarion, [160p], $14.95. Grades 4-6.


Family life--Fiction.
LanguageCall NumberLCCNDewey DecimalISBN/ISSN
English (eng) PZ7.F634 Fi 1995
94003654 [Fic]
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