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Nothings Fair in Fifth...
Barthe DeClements
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Nothings Fair in Fifth Grade

3.94  ·  Rating Details  ·  9,485 Ratings  ·  158 Reviews
Jenny knows one thing for sure - Elsie Edwards is a fat thief who steals people's lunch money to buy candy. So when the book club money disappears, why is the whole class punished? Nothing's fair!

But soon Jenny realizes some things aren't fair for Elsie, either. Elsie is on a strict diet, but when she starts losing weight, her mother won't buy her new clothes. Instead, she

Paperback, 0 pages
Published July 1st 1982 by Scholastic (first published 1981)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Carrie Padian
Dec 30, 2012 Carrie Padian rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is pretty much the most horrible thing I have ever read. I had this book when I was a kid and I have to cringe now when I read the way Elsie's character is written, what everyone says about her (she's fat, so she's automatically "gross") and what she says about herself. First we hate her because she's fat and gross, then we hate her because she eats everyone's food (obviously she does, don't forget she's fat and that's what all fat people do!) and then she steals their money too. Oh, but sh ...more
I'd just like to say to those of you who think this book was not a real representation of fifth grade and it was "over the top", this was a pretty realistic representation for me. Granted I don't remember all the details of the book, but I remember relating to it at the time.

I actually read this book when I was in the 5th grade the year it was published... and I... was the fat blonde girl. My day at school consisted of being taunted and teased. Kids would act like I smelled bad (I didn't) and m
Mar 11, 2014 Sara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Blubber, take note: THIS is how you do a Fat Girl storyline.

For one thing, Elsie Edwards is actually fat, not just "pudgy". She's clearly obese, she eats for comfort, she steals people's food and lunch money, and she's been in trouble for her bad habits. And yet you still feel sympathy for her because even a sneaky thief with an eating problem doesn't deserve the bullying she gets from her classmates and for her own mother to treat her like shit and blatantly favor her spoiled little sister.

Jun 30, 2009 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I was in 5th grade, I encountered this book under some odd circumstances while staying at a girl's house. I picked it up and started reading, and was hooked.

I love it. I loved it as a kid, and having recently ordered it online and read it again, I love it all the more as an adult, and can appreciate how excellent it is on a deeper level.

The characters are just totally REAL. That's the best way to put it. I could relate to them, boys and girls alike. Their dialog was spot-on and nearly 100%
May 21, 2014 Adrienne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You guys have to understand that when this book was written, they didn't ACTUALLY deal with body image problems. This book was actually written by a teacher and her class. It's pretty amazing that a teacher got a book published by having students write what happened next
Great examination of middle school politics and still walks off the shelf with my 5th graders.
Jennifer Neuschwander
I read this several times when I was a's still good. :-)
Desiree Herrera
Mar 07, 2013 Desiree Herrera rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While reading this book, I did not remember the fifth grade being this bad. Of course there was teasing and taunting going on, but I do not think it got as bad as this. I do think that this book is a good read for fifth grade girls because it shows the struggles and cattiness that sometimes does go on amongst pre-teen/teenage girls. A new girl has moved into their school, and no one seems to like her because she looks different. The first chapter is entitled "The Fat Blonde Girl," which basicall ...more
Mar 10, 2011 Mimi rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kids
I don't even think at the age of 10-11 I would have enjoyed this book. Being the "fat kid" myself, I found it so degrading at first. I suppose that is reality but I never heard such things in my time growing up. Perhaps I am glad that I never had to listen to those things.

I felt bad for Elsie. I felt bad that the author dumped so much crap on her life in this book. It was like she was punishing the fat kid. Maybe the author herself was the fat kid growing up?

The children are evil and cruel, more
Jan 12, 2008 Tiffany rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kiddies, reread
I don't know; fifth grade wasn't too bad for me. But I loved getting ready for the fifth grade and reading about other fifth graders. Plus, Barthe DeClements once taught at the elementary school I attended, so that made the book even more special to me, especially when I, with my elementary schoolgirl enthusiasm, wrote to her and gushed about how much I loved the book, and I thought it was so cool that before she became an author, she taught at the school that I was then at. She was really nice ...more
Jan 07, 2015 Julia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was a bit sad seeing how many 1-star reviews this book had, when it had really resonated with me as a pre-teen. I think it was mostly because it gave me hope. A lot of people are saying how cruel the portrayal of Elsie was, but a lot of kids in my classes were a lot meaner than that. She doesn't seem to have many things thrown at her or anything. Perhaps it hasn't aged well and kids are kinder now.

If anyone's interested, I think the Jezebel review does it more justice than my dim memories of
Apr 05, 2016 Jenna rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Well, that's done, finally. While Jenny's one of the most unsympathetic narrators I've seen in a while; the horrible adults that surround her, including her parents, make the children's behavior understandable. Ugh. Just ugh. (view spoiler) ...more
Memory Toast
A puzzling mix. I really liked some of the messages, and disliked others, and a lot if it had to do with the era this was set in.

Pros: Children generally listen to teachers and parents, are not particularly attached to technology, and learn to have some compassion. It was an engrossing read. It made me really curious to see how the school year would play out. I guess the biggest factor this story has going for it is that it might speak to some bystanders and give them courage to stand up for vi
As part of the reading challenge I'm following I had to read a book from my childhood. This was sort of a pain on many levels to choose because who the hell remembers books from when they were a kid and out of the few that they do remember, what is really worth revisiting? I mean all the sweet valley twins and goosebumps I read kind of blur together in my mind and I wasn't exactly reading literary, memorable or poignant stuff when I was young. But after a bit of mental digging I remembered a boo ...more
Kristy P.
Aug 11, 2015 Kristy P. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The main character Jennifer is disappointed when Elsie joins her class. Elsie is over weight and doesn't have friends. Elsie steals lunch money. Elsie is overweight because her mother ignores her after her parents' divorce. She steals money so she can secretly buy candy. Jennifer's math grades start to slip so she asks Elsie to tutor her. Soon, she is doing better in math and Elsie tutors Jennifer's other friends. They become friends with Elsie and Elsie begins to loose weight. Elsie's mother is ...more
Jenna King
Jan 22, 2015 Jenna King rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wasn't going to review this because I read it back when I was probably in about 4th or 5th grade. But after seeing a whole host of negative reviews, mostly by current parents or teachers, I decided I needed to review it. I was not a fat child, in fact, I was way too skinny. But I was treated badly by other girls in the fifth grade (the worst year ever for me). And they were MEAN. Exactly like it was in this book. This book was so real for me as a young girl. I could completely understand every ...more
Jun 21, 2015 Katy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
I remember loving this book as a kid, so I read it again as an adult. Now I'm not totally sure why I was enthralled with it. It's interesting, but it doesn't have a strong plot--or rather, the plot is about two girls who become friends, so it meanders and there's often a lack of tension. The climax sort of tapers off and there's just not a strong storyline. All that said, the book has some highlights. The main character is a pretty humorous and believable narrator, and the characters around her ...more
Shameika Raines
Nothing's Fair in Fifth Grade is a fiction novel for young readers, the novel has been awarded Texas Bluebonnet Award. The novel is about a over weight young child who is disliked, and picked on because she bullies the other children, and steals from them. The main character Elsie, has some family issues, and moves around a lot, but once she settles in her new school, she meets some girls who change her life for the better. Nothings Fair in Fifth grade received a high rating from me because I f ...more
Julie Decker
Jenny and her classmates don't like the new girl Elsie because she's fat and steals food, but after they get to know her and realize what she's facing at home, they become more sympathetic and learn to support her. They offer each other friendship and compassion which holds fast when tested.

I would have given this story more stars if two of its major problems hadn't been there: One, there is a really horrific amount of fat-shaming in this book, describing Elsie as a pig and as disgusting; and tw
Lauren Scanlon
Mar 08, 2015 Lauren Scanlon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2015
I like this book but it doesn't relate to real 5th grade.
Raylyn Lee
Mar 12, 2015 Raylyn Lee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I honestly thought this was a great book. It had very important/ significant morals, such as you shouldn't judge a person on there looks. For example, when Elsie entered the class nobody liked her and they judged her, but they didn't know her. I really loved this book actually because Jennifer took a chance and talked to her. I will recommend this book to people that like books with morals, significant morals. In my opinion, this book was powerful. Powerful because it has lessons to teach to eve ...more
Aug 23, 2014 Elise rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I read "Nothing's Fair in Fifth Grade" with my daughter, a fifth grader. We were both apalled at the openly ugly and mean behavior of the people in this book toward the fat, blond girl, Elsie. I'm glad this kind of bullying seemed anachronistic and over the top to her. Hopefully, things are better for most kids now than they were in 1990 when this book was written. Here are a couple of examples from the book:

-"I never thought of Elsie as a human being. Just a fat girl."
-"It was embarrassing the
Jul 07, 2012 Alice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: very-cool
I am older than Fifth grade, so I am not sure exactly why I loved/love this book so much.

First of all THIS BOOK IS NOT FOR FIFTH GRADERS! too much drama and explaining parents would have a headache for telling and explain to their child about things that happen in this book.

It's good all the way through Keeps you guessing and need to know whats happening.
A REVIEW for people who don't know this book.

A fifth grader Jenny has 2 friends. She has a cat DD and also a new student comes to class. Eli
Olivia Amann
Feb 22, 2013 Olivia Amann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book and I am finally finished!!! It is about a girl named Jenifer and how she thinks that she is having the most unfair fifth grade year of all! What makes it so unfair is that this new fat blond girl shows up in Jenifer Sawywer's class, also she hates her teacher and she thinks she is the most strict person in the world! The new fat girl is named Elsie and she cant't do any sports or anything because everyone says that she is so fat! She also steals everyones luch money to buy mor ...more
Apr 23, 2013 Swankivy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book dealt with an initially unsympathetic protagonist, Jenny, who looks down on her classmate Elsie for being fat and stealing money for food. But through the story, Jenny and her friends learn about the family issues Elsie has and they want to support her.

What I don't like about it is that it's another one of those books where the fat person has to lose weight before people start agreeing that she's worth respecting, and the fat-shaming attitudes aren't corrected in the book. Elsie stops
Nov 25, 2013 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this in fifth grade and found it at my mom's house recently when I was pulling out books for my eleven-year-old niece. Unfortunately, she wasn't interested, so I brought the book home with me to read again. Should be fun after all these years.

UPDATE: (3 years later...)

I just finished my first reading of this since grade school. As I went along, I found the page I left dogeared about halfway through from the first time I tried to read it all those years ago. I'm happy I finished it this ti
Sep 17, 2012 Joanna rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Jenny is a fifth-grader whose year is changed when she meets Elsie, a large girl who is picked on by her classmates and her own mother. At first, Jenny taunts her like everyone else, but ends up liking Elsie, even going so far as to plotting a way to make her stay in the school the following year.

I chose this book because I thought it might make a good read-aloud for my fifth graders; however, I would never recommend this to my class. Although the publishers have tried to modernize the book with
Fourth grade +.

Jenny's fifth grade world gets turned upside down when Elsie, the new fat girl, shows up. Jenny knows there can't be anything good about Elsie, especially when Elsie turns out to be a thief! But through time and understanding, attitudes change.

A fun book all around. A good book to discuss prejudice and outside appearances.
Zeina Daker
Oct 25, 2015 Zeina Daker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The reason why I wanted to read this book, because I was also in Fifth Grade, and I wanted to see if it's the same. Accurately, the studies are the same in math.
The title of the book is " Nothing's Fair In Fifth Grade", but the thing is that things are also not fair in for example Sixth Grade. So the whole book doesn't stick to that point which is fairness.
I recommend this book for everyone, and I hope you'll like it.
Nov 20, 2014 Kaniawimby rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book was about a young girl named Elsie, she was very fat and she stole everybody money out of there desks. Her mom didn't like her to go anywhere with her and her little sister because she was so fat. Her mom treated her like she was dirt. She was even about to be sent to reform school because of what she did.
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awesome 6 12 Feb 21, 2012 07:37PM  
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“money. Halfway through that fifth grade year there was no money out on anyone’s desk.” 1 likes
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