Published by Penguin on July 10th 2014
Genres: Action & Adventure, Cooking & Food, Humorous Stories, Middle Grade, Realistic
Are you interested in a fabulous middle grade novel celebrating all things culinary?!?
Today kicks off a fabulous blog tour, hosted by The Midnight Garden, for the new middle grade book, All Four Stars by Tara Dairman!
Don’t worry—the book is out on July 10th, but between now and then, enjoy visiting all the stops on the tour. Spirit of Children’s Literature is on the schedule for this Friday, July 4th, but today I share with you my review of this wonderful story. Stay tuned, however, for a special recipe inspired by the book on Friday!
There’s even more! (That’s how much I loved this book!) An interview with the author, Tara Dairman, will be live on the blog next Monday! You won’t want to miss it—it was so much fun asking Tara about her favorite desserts, her best meals eaten around the world, and a possible sequel to All Four Stars.
The first stop on the blog tour is a Foodie Tour of NYC and giveaway for the book, so go check it out!
All Four Stars by Tara Dairman (2014)
Suggested age range: 8 and up (Two Lions, 294 pages)
Rating: 5/5 stars
Source: e-ARC from Netgalley
Genre: Middle Grade, Contemporary Realism
The Book: Gladys Gatsby loves to cook! Her parents: not so much. Mom and Dad are terrible cooks, microwaving meatloaf and preparing gross sandwiches with too much mayonnaise. But by the 6th grade, Gladys is an amazing cook, and delights in buying special ingredients and creating gourmet dishes. Her hobby is ground to a stop, however, after a mishap with a blow torch and crème brulee. Gladys just wants to create in the kitchen—is that too much to ask? When she enters an essay contest for school, her letter accidentally lands her a position as a restaurant reviewer at the famous New York Daily Standard. She receives her first assignment: visit Classy Cakes in NYC and sample their desserts so she can complete her review. How is she going to pull it off when she’s been barred from all things culinary? Dive into All Four Stars and find out how Gladys navigates the challenges of cooking in secret, new friendships, and keeping her young identity a secret.
Spirituality in All Four Stars: Figuring out our place in the world can definitely illuminate a spiritual aspect of our lives. I thought this was an important dimension in the story—Gladys’s growing confidence in who she is. This also leads to her connecting meaningfully with other people and pursuing what she’s passionate about! A kid who visits a shop regularly for specialty ingredients and can cook far better than her parents isn’t always the norm, and Gladys certainly has her share of challenges in the story. The way she navigates them, however, makes room for meaningful discussion about what makes our hearts happy and how to approach situations that stand in the way of that.
Who Should Read This Book: I adored this book, so I’m going to go ahead and suggest that everyone read it! Young readers will love it, young adults would love it, and adults: you too! Gladys’s humorous antics and her interactions with memorable characters at school add spice to the story, resulting in a fast-paced and enjoyable read.
The Final Word: This is a delicious and delightful book that will have you cheering for Gladys as she navigates a world filled with parents who are terrible cooks, undercover baking, and a top secret job as a restaurant reviewer! I loved the way Dairman wove in delectable descriptions of food, and I enjoyed every moment of Gladys’s antics as she makes friends and strives to complete her restaurant review for The New York Standard. I closed the book with a desire to bake a dessert myself in honor of the end of All Four Stars. At the same time, I was sad the story ended. Certainly worth a re-read and strongly recommended! I’m certainly looking forward to reading more from Tara.