5 Stars for All Four Stars

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Middle-grade novel about 11-year-old restaurant critic Gladys Gatsby. Published by Putnam/Penguin on July 10, 2014.

Middle-grade novel about 11-year-old restaurant critic Gladys Gatsby. Published by Putnam/Penguin on July 10, 2014.

 

I had met Tara Dairman through a mutual author friend, Laura Resau. We were celebrating Jean Mobley’s new book, Katerina’s Wish, at Laura’s house  with nibbles and champagne before heading over to Old Firehouse Books for Jean’s author reading and signing. Tara lives in Boulder, Colorado yet has traveled all over the world. I found her fascinating with a good sense of humor, and was excited for her that she, too, was coming out with a new book soon. When she told the group what the premise was, I immediately filed it in my brain as a future Must Read. All Four Stars doesn’t come out until July 10, but I was lucky to have Tara send me an advanced copy and I read it in 2 days!

Author Tara Dairman

Author Tara Dairman

I am, admittedly, a very slow reader. Which kinda stinks for a writer who has to read lots of books for her job. But Tara’s story was such a fun romp and filled with delicious food metaphors that I ate it up! Here’s an example of how cleverly she sprinkles in food references in her writing. “He’d stuck to his decision like caramel sauce.”  Tara’s story is a delightful mixture of obstacles and humor that kids will gobble up.

Here’s what the book’s about. Gladys Gatsby loves to cook. But her parents are terrible cooks, and therefore bring home lots of gross take-out and microwavable foods. When Gladys sets the kitchen curtains on fire making creme brûlée she is grounded from cooking and her allowance is cut off until she can pay back her parents. She tries to keep her passion for food a secret, but an essay contest for a New York newspaper reveals her talent for writing and cooking. Her essay is mistaken for a job application for restaurant reviewer, and when she gets an assignment to review a dessert cafe in New York City, Gladys must concoct a plan to get to the City and write her review. All the while she has to keep her identity a secret. This is a recipe for disaster! But like a reality show chef, Gladys pulls through under pressure. 5 stars!

If you’re interested in trying a carrot dessert called Gajar Ka Halwa that was mentioned in the book, go to Tara’s blog and there’s a recipe and photos of the preparation steps.

 

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