- Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great
Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great
Author(s) Judy Blume Cover artist Roy Doty Country United States Language English Genre(s) Children's novel Publisher Dutton Publication date 1972 Media type Print Paperback Pages 144 pp ISBN 0-525-36455-2 OCLC Number 539880 LC Classification PZ7.B6265 Ot Followed by Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
Sheila Tubman's family is planning a vacation, where they leave New York City for the summer to live in suburban Tarrytown. They plan to spend the season in a house that belongs to George Egran, a professor at Marymount Manhattan College where her father, Buzz Tubman, works. At first, she is disappointed and disgruntled that they're staying at somebody's house instead of going to Disneyland, but then changes her mind when she finds out she can have her own bedroom (at their apartment, she must share her bedroom with her older sister, Libby, who is fifteen and pretends to be very sophisticated and glamorous.)
Once they get there, Sheila has a rough start. She must face several fears, including spiders, thunderstorms, the dark and dogs ghosts (when she learns that Tarrytown was where The Legend of Sleepy Hollow took place), the dark, and her two biggest fears: dogs (Professor Egran owns a beagle named Jennifer that they look after for the summer), and water (her parents insist on swimming lessons). She does not like her bedroom at first, since it belongs to Bobby, Professor Egran's tween son, (who has a huge model collection and warns any girls using his room that he will seek revenge on whoever touches them).
Then Sheila befriends a girl her age named Merle "Mouse" Ellis (a.k.a. the Junior Yo-yo Champion of Tarrytown), as well as a pair of fraternal twin sisters named Sondra and Jane Van Arden. They attend a cultural arts summer day camp, and enjoy making pottery. Her swimming instructor, Marty, also helps her with lessons, with her even going as far as admitting she is scared to put her face in the water. She pretends to know everything and can be able to do anything when she is with her new friends, but deep down Mouse knows that she is rather fearful. She also attempts to make a camp newspaper, wanting to do everything by herself, but resorts to having to print it via an old mimeograph machine, and finds it hard work. So she passes the job to two older boys that form committees and have fun with making one, and she feels left out, until she decides to become a weather forecaster (so she can know in advance when a thunderstorm is coming).
Jennifer also makes friends with a male dog, Mumford (called by the family as "Jennifer's Friend"), which makes Sheila even more nervous. They also find out that she is going to have puppies. Libby is excited over this, but Sheila is too nervous about having one in their house. The camp puts on a play of Peter Pan, and Sheila and Mouse help work on the scenery. Libby tries out to get the part of Wendy, but due to her tone-deafness, she winds up playing Captain Hook, with great disappointment.
Libby makes friends with the girl that played Wendy, Maryann Markman, and invites her to sleep over the same night Sheila is having her slumber party with Mouse, Sondra, and Jane. It starts out fun, until they make a slam book, which leads into a big fight that involves them trading insults and throwing Bobby's models at each other. When Libby notices this and tells their mom, Jean, Sheila and the others are outraged. After they fix up Bobby's models, they rig a practical joke involving toothpaste on the toilet seat, which Sheila winds up sitting on.
When the summer camp ends, they go on a hayride. Sheila is nervous that the horses pulling their wagon might run wild, or that the Headless Horseman would come out and scare them, and the fact that there's a thunderstorm and a full moon (Sheila fears a werewolf might come out). Then she must take a swimming test in order to end her lessons. Even though she feels she can't do it the entire time, she passes with flying colors.
Before the Tubmans leave Tarrytown, they have a farewell party, inviting all the friends they made there, including Mouse and her family, Maryann Markman, Marty the swimming instructor, the Van Arden twins, and Libby's new boyfriend Hank Crane. Things go well until Mumford arrives, as does his owner. They tell him that he and Jennifer are going to be parents. Sheila thinks to herself that having a puppy might not be so bad after all.
Sheila learned two things over the summer: It's all right to admit your fears, and pretending to know everything may not be the best choice.
- Blume dedicated the book to her father.
- Sheila is also a character in the Fudge books. Other than brief anecdotes, Peter and his dog, Turtle, are the only members of the Hatcher family to appear in the book. They appear in the first chapter, and are mentioned by Sheila several times in the story. She also briefly mentions Peter's brother, Fudge, though not by name.
- The post 2002 reprints of this book have some lines edited and a bit of new content added to update the technology use in it (for instance, record players are replaced with CD players, and the camp's copier keeps malfunctioning, which is why Sheila must use a mimeograph machine, whereas the original had them already still using their mimeograph machine and not having a copier yet).
Works by Judy Blume Fudge series Novels
The One in the Middle Is the Green Kangaroo • Iggie's House • Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. • Then Again, Maybe I Won't • Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great • Freckle Juice • It's Not the End of the World • Deenie • Blubber • Forever... • Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself • Wifey • Tiger Eyes • Smart Women • Just as Long as We're Together • Here's to You, Rachel Robinson • Summer Sisters
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