Genre: Middle Grade

The Stars of Summer by Tara Dairman Blog Tour (Giveaway + Recipes!)

The Stars of Summer by Tara Dairman Blog Tour (Giveaway + Recipes!)The Stars of Summer by Tara Dairman
Published by Penguin on May 5th 2015
Genres: Cooking & Food, Humorous Stories, Middle Grade, Realistic
Pages: 336
Goodreads
five-stars

“A scrumptious gem of a story!”—Jennifer A. Nielsen, New York Times bestselling author of The False Prince for All Four Stars. In this charming sequel to All Four Stars, eleven-year-old foodie Gladys Gatsby now has her first published review under her belt and is looking forward to a quiet summer of cooking and reviewing. But her plans quickly go awry when her friend Charissa Bentley delivers Gladys’s birthday gift: a free summer at Camp Bentley. As Gladys feared, camp life is not easy: she struggles to pass her swim test and can’t keep the other campers happy while planning lunches. The worst part is she can’t seem to get away from the annoying new “celebrity” camper and sneak away for her latest assignment—finding the best hot dog in New York City. But when it turns out her hot dog assignment was a dirty trick by a jealous reviewer, Gladys’s reviewing career may be over forever.

I’m honored and excited to kick off the Official Blog Tour for the sequel to Tara Dairman’s All Four Stars: The Stars of Summer! After falling in love with Tara’s debut last year, I was jumping for joy when I received the ARC of its sequel, and I think you are going to adore this book!

In fact, you can enter a Rafflecopter Giveaway at the bottom of this post to win a SIGNED COPY of both All Four Stars and The Stars of Summer by Tara Dairman!

AllFourStarsbyTaraDairman

Prepare to be entertained by Gladys and her family and friends yet again in this May 5th release from Putnam.

A sequel to the utterly delightful All Four Stars, Tara Dairman’s The Stars of Summer opens with Gladys’s birthday dinner in NYC at a Tapas restaurant where Gladys is faced with the task of reviewing the meal with her family and friends and jotting down her notes in secret. While in the restaurant restroom, Gladys discovers that there’s a $1000 dollar reward for cracking the identity of restaurant reviewer “G. Gatsby”!

Gladys’s mishap in the previous book—the crème brulee incident is thankfully behind her and she is able to use the kitchen once again. Readers open the story expecting Gladys will be able to cook and create her culinary delights once again.

But, there’s more in store for Gladys this summer than just typical time in the kitchen. And let me give you another hint: there’s a BOY involved! Just what Gladys needs…

side eye dalmations

When Charissa gifts Gladys with a free summer at Camp Bentley, Gladys’ summer plans quickly take on a nightmarish quality. No way does Gladys want to spend her days in the sun swimming or running relay races! Her newest assignment for the newspaper is also a bit strange—she will have to find the best hot dog in New York City!

It is no surprise that adventures for Gladys ensue in this equally charming sequel to Tara Dairman’s 2014 debut.

What I Loved

The Food: From the beginning of the book, your mouth will water. Whether you’re reading about items from the Tapas Menu at Gladys’s birthday restaurant such as Ham-Wrapped Roasted Asparagus and Griddled Polenta Cakes or her three-tired Strawberry Lime Birthday cake, you might not want to read this book while hungry.

Having a healthy obsession for cookbooks, I absolutely adore the fact that Tara’s books feature a healthy number of food references! Gladys isn’t afraid to take on a culinary challenge and I love that.

Though Gladys normally wouldn’t consider scouring the city for the “best hot dog,” her summer experiences lead her in this direction. I found this to be a fabulous aspect of the sequel, especially as it’s releasing in late spring and the summer is fast approaching.

The Laugh Aloud Moments: I don’t think you can read this book with a straight face.

Gladys’s antics (especially when you add her parents as well as her friends and a new kid named Hamilton Herbertson) infuse the narrative with the perfect ingredient of humor.

I appreciate when a story, especially a middle grade novel makes me laugh, and The Stars of Summer is no exception. My hope is that you find Chapter 14: A (Hot) Dog Day of a Summer as funny as I did.

The Curriculum Connections: Both All Four Stars and The Stars of Summer are excellent choices for titles in the upper elementary classroom. Whether chosen for individual reading by students or featured as a whole class read-a-long, Tara’s books feature colorful characters, engaging plots, and humorous antics that I think would especially engage this age group.

Its culinary aspects made me think—what about including the book as part of a Home Economics/Language Arts hybrid lesson plan?

It would depend on the school’s curriculum, but I love the idea of giving students the chance to read the book and then to learn to cook some of the recipes referenced in either All Four Stars or The Stars of Summer.

The New Twists and Challenges for Gladys: Whether it was learning to swim, navigating a summer camp kitchen with the bossy Mrs. Spinelli, dealing with a boy who “might” like her, or combing the streets of New York City for every hot dog stand in sight, Gladys has her share of new adventures and lessons to learn. Gladys is as endearing a character in the sequel as she was in All Four Stars. The addition of new characters supplies welcome challenges and tension to a narrative that, to be honest, I couldn’t put down.

Reasons to Read The Stars of Summer

-You read All Four Stars and have fallen in love with Gladys and her culinary adventures.

-You need a story to get you in the mood for summer.

-You’re fascinated by the idea of the search for the perfect hot dog in New York City.

-You’re hungry for a delightful contemporary Middle Grade read about an ambitious twelve year old whose adventures and interactions will entertain you and keep you chuckling.

View Spoiler »

The_Stars_of_Summer_cover

Now, this tour stop wouldn’t be complete without at least a few gourmet hot dog recipes. I hope that Gladys would approve of these, and I have selected a few I found through my online search for some more “creative” hot dogs. Here’s one interesting tidbit—I started searching for hot dog recipes before I had finished my reading of the book. I inadvertently highlighted a hot dog recipe I wanted to include that actually shows up in the book—the Sonoran Hot Dog!

Enjoy!

If you have recipes to share, please do so in the comments below!

HOT DOGS WITH CHEDDAR AND SAUTEED APPLES

CAPRESE DOG

(Mozzarella, Basil, & Tomato!)

BACON WRAPPED SONORAN HOT DOGS

(Beans, Tomatoes, Onions, Cilantro, Avocado!)

HOT DOGS WITH DAL & RED ONION RAITA

(Lentils, Red Onion, Yogurt, Mint, Serrano Chile!)

If you missed my first interview with Tara, you can explore it here. Also, if you aren’t familiar with All Four Stars, you can read about it here.

**Thank you to Kristin Rae for a beautiful blog tour button!

BIO: Tara Dairman is the author of ALL FOUR STARS, which was named an Amazon Best Book of the Month and a Mighty Girl Top Book of 2014 for Teens and Tweens. She is also a playwright and recovering world traveler. She grew up in New York and received a B.A. in Creative Writing from Dartmouth College. After surviving the world’s longest honeymoon (two years, seventy-four countries!), she now lives in Colorado with her husband and their trusty waffle iron.

Tara Dairman headshot
Photo Credits: Tiffany Crowder @ Crowded Studios: http://www.crowdedstudiosphoto.com/

Book buying links:

Penguin: http://www.penguin.com/book/the-stars-of-summer-by-tara-dairman/9780399170690

Indiebound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780399170690

Powells: http://www.powells.com/biblio/62-9780399170690-0

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Stars-Summer-Tara-Dairman/dp/0399170693/ref=la_B00IK6WU4U_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1412958767&sr=1-2

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-stars-of-summer-tara-dairman/1120421974?ean=9780399170690

BAM: http://www.booksamillion.com/p/Stars-Summer/Tara-Dairman/9780399170690?id=6117508412118

Indigo (Canada): http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/the-stars-of-summer/9780698173675-item.html?ikwsec=Home&ikwidx=2

Book Depository: http://www.bookdepository.com/Stars-Summer-Tara-Dairman/9780399170690

Social media links:

Website: http://taradairman.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TaraDairman

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TaraDairmanAuthor

Instagram: http://instagram.com/allfourstars/

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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What Katie Read

Classic Middle Grade Review: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh (1971) by Robert C. O’Brien

Classic Middle Grade Review: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh (1971) by Robert C. O’BrienMrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien
Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade
Pages: 233
Goodreads
five-stars

There's something very strange about the rats living under the rosebush at the Fitzgibbon farm. But Mrs. Frisby, a widowed mouse with a sick child, is in dire straits and must turn to these exceptional creatures for assistance. Soon she finds herself flying on the back of a crow, slipping sleeping powder into a ferocious cat's dinner dish, and helping 108 brilliant, laboratory-enhanced rats escape to a utopian civilization of their own design, no longer to live "on the edge of somebody else's, like fleas on a dog's back."

This unusual novel, winner of the Newbery Medal (among a host of other accolades) snags the reader on page one and reels in steadily all the way through to the exhilarating conclusion. Robert O'Brien has created a small but complete world in which a mother's concern for her son overpowers her fear of all her natural enemies and allows her to make some extraordinary discoveries along the way. O'Brien's incredible tale, along with Zena Bernstein's appealing ink drawings, ensures that readers will never again look at alley rats and field mice in the same way.

On Friday, April 3rd, The Midnight Garden is holding their monthly classic Middle Grade Discussion, so today and later this week I’m bringing you my thoughts on both last month’s classic—Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh (1971) and this month’s selection—The Secret Garden (1911). Both are books I loved as a child and that I still love as an adult, so I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts.

Thoughts:

This is both a childhood favorite and an adult favorite. How splendid that this was the February book for The Midnight Garden Read-along! It was fabulous to discuss it with the group, and that discussion reminded me of how much I appreciate chatting about children’s classics. Not everyone finds classic children’s literature important, and that’s one reason why it’s so wonderful when I find other bloggers that do.

It was during my degree in Children’s Literature in England that I returned to Nimh, and remembered how fascinating this book has always been to me.

Lab rats that turn the tables and become super-intelligent, a mouse willing to brave danger for her family, and animals ready to band together against….THE CAT! All these elements make for an absorbing and rich animal fantasy.

Of course, I remember the animated film from my childhood, which actually is a bit different than the book in some ways. The movie takes a different name: The Secret of Nimh.

secret-of-NIMH

My brother and I recently watched this one and we were reminded at what parts we had been slightly traumatized as children! Parts of the film still seem pretty intense.

Who Should Read This Book:

If you like classic children’s literature and a good animal fantasy with rich dimensions and memorable characters, look no further than Nimh. Trust me, O’Brien has a fabulous plot with this one, and you may have grown up watching the animated film (or not) and you may have read this one when you were younger (or not), but you really should treat yourself and re-read it as an older reader.

nimh

Thoughts from the Rabbit Hole of Grad School:

I’ve got a confession to make—I wrote one of my essays in graduate school on Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh and another toy fantasy, The Mouse and His Child.

I won’t include the entire essay here for you to read, but I do want to pull out some thoughts I had about Nimh from that essay I wrote over ten years ago! I do have to say, it was loads of fun to write about this classic children’s book.

One thing I was really interested in when I wrote the paper and that I’m still interested in is the idea of “Journey” in the book. Whether it’s the rats of nimh or Mrs. Frisby and her family, these characters are dealing with the challenges of homelessness and displacement and they journey to find a home and safety. In a way, a lot of us can relate to that—we may have a physical home, but we’re on a journey of sorts to find safety in authentic community (of friends or family) and a place of belonging. In that other book I mentioned, The Mouse and His Child, the discovery of identity and belonging is a strong thread throughout the story.

There’s actually THREE types of journeys that Mrs. Frisby herself takes in the book:

  1. Frisbys’ journey to finding a safer habitation.

  2. Frisby’s journey to the Rats of Nimh, seeking help.

  3. Frisby’s journey to discover more about who her late husband really was and his connection with the Rats of Nimh.

Isn’t that interesting? All of these journeys are connected to one another—each affects the other. Take out any one of these journeys, and Mrs. Frisby’s goal of finding a safe place for her family might not work out.

There are more aspects of Nimh to explore, but that gives us quite enough for now. You might be saying, Katie, why are you going all academic on us by bringing up your paper from graduate school?

Well, readers, I can’t help but get excited about that paper after re-reading Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh, and in a way, I almost want to write another paper! In fact, many of you may now want to go and enroll in a Master’s program in Children’s Literature yourselves. If you need a list of possible programs, I can certainly provide advice!

Finally

Let’s just say that I’ll probably be visiting the fantasy classic middle grade world of Nimh again next year, and who knows what new insight I’ll gain? That’s something I love about reading Classic Middle Grade books—there’s always something more you gain after each reading.

And that is worthy of discussion.

Did you read Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh as a young reader? How about when you were older? What did you think? Did you see the film?

five-stars
What Katie Read

Waiting on Wednesday: Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead

Waiting on Wednesday: Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca SteadGoodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead
Published by Wendy Lamb Books on August 4th 2015
Genres: Middle Grade, Realistic
Pages: 304
Goodreads

This brilliant novel by Newbery Medal winner Rebecca Stead explores multiple perspectives on the bonds and limits of friendship. Bridge is an accident survivor who's wondering why she's still alive. Emily has new curves and an almost-boyfriend who wants a certain kind of picture. Tabitha sees through everybody's games--or so she tells the world. The three girls are best friends with one rule: No fighting. Can it get them through seventh grade?     This year everything is different for Sherm Russo as he gets to know Bridge Barsamian. What does it mean to fall for a girl--as a friend? On Valentine's Day, an unnamed high school girl struggles with a betrayal. How long can she hide in plain sight? Each memorable character navigates the challenges of love and change in this captivating novel.

Newbery Winning Author REBECCA STEAD has a new book coming out in August! It’s realistic, set in New York City, and harbors a beautiful cover. Just look at it!

New WoW

You may know that When You Reach Me is one of my favorite books of all times–it’s both historical and fantasy–two of my favorite genres wrapped up into one.  and Liar and Spy is another beautiful story Stead wrote after her Newbery winning When You Reach Me.

Yes, When You Reach Me was stunning with its Brooklyn setting, its mystery, and its references to A Wrinkle in Time. Liar and Spy sports a twelve year spy who drinks coffee and is named Safer. He and Georges, a newcomer to the Brooklyn apartment building, participate in various spy activities and you’ll never guess what happens next. Trust me, if you haven’t read either of these gems, you must skip off to the library at once and procure them!

It’s safe to say that Rebecca Stead is one of my favorite Middle Grade authors and I will read anything she writes. When I found out she had a book releasing in August, I just about jumped out of my chair.

flailing

I’m beyond excited for Goodbye Stranger and look forward to reading it in the near future!

What are you waiting on Wednesday for this week?

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, in which we share those upcoming releases we are most excited about!

 

What Katie Read
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