The plot of Judy Blume's "Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing" follows a boy named Peter Hatcher who is learning to care for his first pet, a tiny turtle named Dribble. Peter's little brother Fudge is fascinated with Dribble, which creates conflict between Peter and his family.
Peter wins Dribble at a birthday party and is proud of his first pet. He feels that having Dribble is a privilege. He finds real companionship with his turtle, talking to him about things he never tells anyone else. He believes it is a great responsibility to care for Dribble, and he feels set apart from his little brother.
Fudge is intrigued by Peter's turtle, and does everything he can to play with him. He tries to feed him hair and sneaks him out of his cage at inappropriate times. Peter becomes afraid Fudge might do something to hurt his new pet. Peter thinks his parents allow Fudge to behave recklessly with Dribble without adequate punishment.
Peter's biggest fear becomes a reality when Fudge swallows Dribble. Peter is concerned for both his beloved pet and his little brother when Fudge has to go into the hospital for a few days. Doctors finally remove the turtle and Fudge is fine, but Dribble does not survive. Fudge garners more attention and gifts because of the ordeal, while Peter is left grief-stricken. Eventually, Peter's parents realize how sad he is and adopt a dog that Peter names Turtle in honor of his first pet.