Published by Putnam Juvenile
Published on July 10th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Food, Friendship, Middle Grade, Realistic FIction
Source: Book Tour Host, Net Galley
Meet Gladys Gatsby: New York’s toughest restaurant critic. (Just don’t tell anyone that she’s in sixth grade.)
Gladys Gatsby has been cooking gourmet dishes since the age of seven, only her fast-food-loving parents have no idea! Now she’s eleven, and after a crème brûlée accident (just a small fire), Gladys is cut off from the kitchen (and her allowance). She’s devastated but soon finds just the right opportunity to pay her parents back when she’s mistakenly contacted to write a restaurant review for one of the largest newspapers in the world.
But in order to meet her deadline and keep her dream job, Gladys must cook her way into the heart of her sixth-grade archenemy and sneak into New York City—all while keeping her identity a secret! Easy as pie, right?
All Four Stars is definitely a charming little book. The synopsis said that there will be food, and there were! To be honest, I had dreams about food while reading this book. It was a fantastically scrumptious read!
…like tender duck breast swimming in a lake of tea-infused gravy, with a side of slender asparagus stalks dipping their tips in at the shore.
Gladys Gatsby is fascinated about food. She loves to experiment with different ingredients, but she’s only in sixth grade. She abhors eating her parents’ cooking, and fast food is the last on her list. Her love for food was heightened when her Aunt Lydia from Paris showed her what a real restaurant is!
Her culinary activities were frowned upon by her parents when a creme brûlée mishap occurred in the kitchen. She was banned from cooking, or doing activities that has anything to do with it. This devastated Gladys. Her parents required her to make friends, and do activities outside of cooking. To me, that’s one of the best things that happened to her.
Gladys befriended her neighbor, Sandy. Although the first time that Gladys came over to his house was quite interesting, they became really good friends. Since Gladys was banned from cooking, she found herself enjoying other activities with her new-found friend. They played video games, or played with Sandy’s pet rabbits. Gladys lucked out that his mother is interested in food, too! Sandy’s mother owns the Larousse Gastronomique – it’s the original French cookbook , with over thousands of classic recipes. Gladys was so ecstatic when she saw that! Mrs. Anderson actually knows how to prepare food, unlike Gladys’ parents, whose idea of cooking is…
We’ll just nuke it until it looks done!
But this book isn’t all about cooking. It also tackled about family issues, where the parents were not interested in their kid’s passion. For a sixth grader, it must have been really hard to suppress your love for something just to please your parents. This was the one thing about the book that I didn’t really like. Her parents were portrayed as people who didn’t nurture their kid’s talents. There are probably real parents like that. I’m lucky to have parents that encouraged us to pursue our dreams. But what I loved about Gladys was the fact that this didn’t stop her passion for cooking.
Even though she couldn’t eat at different restaurants, she did review all the meals she had on her journal. Her journal are full of entertaining reviews on the meals she had. Some meals were really good, and some were quite a disaster.
Another Christmas at the big brown buffet. The food this year seemed even browner than usual. Maybe the new heat lamps they got are stronger, like those tanning beds people lie in when they want to pretend they just went on a tropical vacation? The turkey definitely looked like it had spent some time on a desert island – and tasted like it, too.
What made the book quite exciting was the assignment that her teacher, Ms. Quincy, assigned to them. It was to write an essay about their passion. This lead to an amazing food-related adventure for Gladys. With the help of her friends, Sandy and Parm, she was able to make plans to eat at Classy Cakes. Just the name makes me hungry!
Overall, the book was fun, entertaining, and a delicious read! It made me curious about the dishes that were mentioned in the book, like the Indian dish, Gajar ka Halwa. It’s made of carrots! So if you want something light, and if you love food, then read this book!
About The Author
Tara Dairman is a novelist, playwright, and survivor of the world’s
longest honeymoon (2 years, 74 countries!) Her first middle-grade
novel, All Four Stars, will be published on July 10, 2014 by Putnam/Penguin. Tara grew up in New York and earned a B.A. in Creative Writing from Dartmouth College; she currently lives in Colorado, where she teaches writing to students aged 6-13.
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