I can’t stop licking my lips over the most delicious middle grade novel I’ve read in a long while. It should get at least four stars. As a matter of fact, it IS All Four Stars (Penguin/July 2014) by Tara Dairman, and you’ll want to read it on a full stomach, lest you wear out your salivary glands before finishing it.
BTW, Tara has offered to give away a surprise swag packet to the winner of a drawing. Your name goes in the hat once if you leave a comment and twice if you tell me you are sharing on the social media of your choice.
Gladys Gatsby is an odd duck from the get-go. How many sixth-grade girls do you know who could successfully ignite their parents’ kitchen curtains while putting the finishing touches on crème brulee with a blow torch and live to tell about it?
Unfortunately, Gladys’s culinary giftedness is lost on take-out-food parents, and Gladys finds she has cooked her own goose as far as kitchen privileges go in the first few pages of her would-be culinary career. She earns a grounded-from-the-kitchen status, which she takes in stride along with her generally ignored position among her classmates.
When Gladys’s teacher encourages her to write about her desired future career for an essay contest sponsored by the New York Standard newspaper (think New York Times) Gladys feels sure no one will believe her true desire to become a food critic so she writes about becoming a veterinarian. Her teacher sees right through the “lack of passion” and gives her instructions to write what she truly desires to be in a letter form, as if she were applying for a job as a food critic. Through a hilarious chain of events, Gladys’s letter ends up on the desk of the real food critic, and there just happens to be an opening for which Gladys might qualify.
Along the way Gladys finds a true-blue friend in her next-door neighbor, Sandy, who offers support and technical advice, and irony of ironies, the sixth grade devious diva, Charissa, unwittingly provides the opportunity Gladys needs to prove she is, indeed, a four-star food critic worthy of the New York Standard.
Middle grade boys and girls, foodies or not, will howl over the ingenious names, antics and recipes mentioned along Gladys’s journey. Dairman has created middle grade personalities that more than fill the bill while providing their own quirky traits. I highly recommend this book to middle grade students while issuing a warning to parents: watch out what you feed your children. You may end up in a scathing review someday!
Hey READERS, I would love to hear from you.
Is your MIND FULL of old thoughts or new?