by Tara Dairman
Published by G.P.Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin!
This book is the first in a wonderful, fun, delicious series about a young foodie named Gladys Gatsby. When we meet 11-year-old Gladys in All Four Stars, she has accidentally lit the kitchen curtains on fire while making crème brûlée in her family’s kitchen. Her parents, horrible cooks themselves, ban Gladys from cooking, and urge her to use her time to make friends as she begins 5th grade.
But Gladys loves to cook, and it’s not as easy to make friends as one might think, especially for shy, awkward Gladys.
In a case of mistaken identity, Gladys’ entry in the 5th grade essay contest gets sent to the food editor of the New York Standard newspaper, and Gladys gets hired as the newest restaurant critic, although the editor has no idea how old Gladys is.
In order to tackle her food reviews, she has to figure out how to sneak into New York City to review the restaurants, but that’s not all. She has to keep the food editor fooled about her real age, deceive her parents, and navigate what it means to be a good friend. All this might just be too much for an 11-year-old.
This book is infused with a love of food, from the chapter titles such as, “Seventeen Ways to Cook a Carrot,” and “Like a Pie to The Face,” to the way Gladys feels when offered a chance to look at The Larousse Gastronomique, “A warm happy feeling coursed through Gladys, like the kind you get from a sip of hot cider on the first cold day of fall.” And, both playful and fun are the descriptions of meals Gladys writes in her food journal. You’ll have to read the book to discover Gladys’ delectable reviews.
This book is as delightfully fun as a banana split with homemade chocolate sauce and a cherry on top. Tara Dairman takes us on such a wonderful adventure for Gladys that involves fabulous and not-so-fabulous food, great writing and friendship. This book has a warm cast of characters including Gladys’ next-door-neighbor, Sandy; the local shop owner, Mr. Eng; her soccer-playing, food-hating friend, Parm; and the popular, snobby girl, Charissa.
I’m not sure who enjoyed this book more, Lily or me, but like an amazing family meal with garlic bread to dip in your Pomodoro, it was so much fun to enjoy together. Like all of my favorite adventures it involved food! And trust us when we say, you’ll enjoy this book so much, you’ll be hungry for Stars of Summer and Stars So Sweet, the next two books in the series. So pull up the menu from your local bookstore and order yourself a serving of All Four Stars. you won’t be disappointed.