Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Fig Pudding

I have read very little Children's Lit in recent years but did enjoy reading this one before passing it on to my granddaughter who also enjoyed it.

Fifth-grader Cliff Abernathy has come to realize that being the oldest of six children is not just fun and games. The position comes with responsibilities. His parents expect him to help monitor the behavior of his little brothers and younger sister and he is often in trouble for falling down on the job. He definitely enjoys the perks of being the oldest but sometimes he wonders if they are really a good trade-off for the extra work his parents expect of him.

In Fig Pudding, Cliff shares his memories of everything that happened to him and his family in the past year,twelve months that includes things he wants to remember forever and one or two that he just wishes he could forget. The Abernathy kids have distinct personalities and Ralph Fletcher gives each of the kids a chance to shine in a chapter of his own.

There is Josh, only three years old and the youngest, who has to spend Christmas Eve in the hospital and desperately wants a “yidda yadda” from Santa, a gift request that has the whole family confused. Teddy is the hyperactive second-grader who spends so much time sitting under the kitchen table where his mother can keep an eye on him that he starts to like it under there and considers it to be his special playroom. Cyn, the only girl in the family, decides to “adopt” a new family and spends more time with them than she does at home. Cliff and Nate learn some things about themselves and each other as the result of a couple of fishing trips, and Brad, the most easy going of all the children, surprises everyone, and probably himself, with the Easter prank that he pulls on the whole family.

Fig Pudding is generally aimed at readers age 9-12 but readers of all ages will be touched by the tragic accident that claims the life of one of the boys. Each member of the family has to work through his own grief, anger and confusion in order to come to grips with what has so shaken them all but they finally come to understand that their lost son and brother will be alive forever as they celebrate his memory.

Ralph Fletcher cleverly ends Fig Pudding on a comic note by devoting the last chapter to the way that young Josh accidentally adds a “secret ingredient” to his father’s fig pudding, a dish that the Abernathy family traditionally carries to a large family gathering every year. It has never tasted better than it does this year – even with Josh’s help. This is one of those books that might well have children shedding a few tears as they read one chapter and laughing out loud during the next one, just like life in the real world.

Rated at: 5.0

Originally published at


  1. hi sam, i think fig pudding would be a nice book if one wants to relax a bit... revert to the reserves of some childhood innocence still left somewhere in the depths of their soul..
    i am a girl of 18 years of age and a student of science. i am an avid reader and so visited your blog.
    my name is shikha singh and i am an Indian.

  2. Welcome, Shikha...glad that you found the blog and took time to make a comment. I really appreciate that.

    You're exactly correct about the "innocence factor" of this one.


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