PURCHASE:Amazon | Book Depository
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?
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.
Oh, man. This book was like my tummy’s dream come true, as it was full of talks of exotic food and tasty desserts that would surely make anyone’s mouth drool. Fair warning, my dear friends: don’t read this book when you’re hungry as you’d be looking for the nearest restaurant in a jiffy!
All Four Stars is definitely an endearing read that will connect to the chef (and eater!) in you, as it follows the story of Gladys Gatsby, a young sixth grader, follow her dreams in the most unconventional way. She has loved food at a very tender age, and has since then experimented with recipes behind her parents’ backs. It has gone so, so well, until she caught the kitchen’s curtains on fire when she was attempting to make a Crème Brûlée, a tasty French treat that assure you is as delicious as it sounds. She got banned from the kitchen, from looking up cookbooks, and pretty much everything that has anything to do with food and cooking, but what’s she to do when she (unintentionally) finds herself hired to review a dessert shop for the New York Standard? Looks like her dream isn’t yet ready to give up on her, either…
One word to sum up this book? Freaking. Adorable.
And it’s not because of the food, either! The main character, Gladys, was such a sweetiepie. I loved how behind that timid and shy persona was a young girl oozing with passion. I loved how the mere sight of food (and real food, not just the fast-food half-cooked stuff that’s served in East Dumpsford!) put her in euphoria. Her eagerness was so contagious that her descriptions of the Indian cuisine and the desserts in Classy Cakes pretty much sent my stomach to a grumbling and growling frenzy. But most of all, it was so admirable to see someone so young pursue cooking for the mere fact it made her happy and fulfilled. I don’t remember being that way when I was eleven years old. I was awkward and all over the place, and I didn’t know what I really wanted to do in life, and seeing Gladys like this made me want to be young again and be as full of fire.
At the beginning, she was quite hesitant to share her enthusiasm for food, and how could she not? For one, her parents were terrible cooks and fast-food-lovers who deemed cooking as an “unapproved” eleven-year-old activity. Her only friend in school, Parm, was someone who only ate cold cereal and plain spaghetti and had no palate for anything else. Her Aunt Lydia, who introduced her to cooking in the first place, lived so far away in Paris. It was therefore such a momentous moment to see her finally stand her ground and make her dreams come true on her own terms. She didn’t wait for it to happen to her – she made it happen herself. She found ways. She exerted effort. She tried. And every step of the way you’ll be cheering her on, because she braved the waves when it felt like the whole world was against her.
And the food descriptions! My goodness! They were such delectable delights, as they surely made my imagination run wild. It’s no secret that this blogger here loves food. If I have to choose, I’d rather spend my money on going out to restaurants than on shopping sprees. Who could possibly resist dumplings, foie gras, or some pasta Alfredo? When Gladys recalled her foodtrip at her Indian friend’s house, I was reminded of the Sultanate of Oman, an Arabian country I frequently visit where I regularly eat Arabian, Turkish, and Indian cuisine. It was so awesome to see the food so stunningly described here. They truly made my mouth water.
And the best part? THE PARENTS! Okay, okay, maybe they’re not the best part, but they were an awesome factor nonetheless. They were a little on the bizarre side, but I really appreciated how they still looked after Gladys and how they were so worried she might be isolating herself too much. They definitely wanted the best for her, and you can see that in their actions, even if some of them were a liiiiittle misguided. The teacher, Ms. Quincy, was so awesome, too. It was so endearing to see a teacher truly concerned for the well-being of her students, encouraging them to give the very best in what they do. Like Gladys, you can see her passion in teaching. She was so inspirational, and it’s really thanks to people like her that kids like Gladys get the courage and confidence to step up.
All in all, this was a cute, endearing, adorable, and stunning MG book that kids and adults alike will surely love. The heroine is awesome, the food is awesome, the writing is awesome, the messages are awesome, the whole package is awesome. This is a must-read, folks! Not only for your heart and mind, but also for your tummy!
Meet 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.
All Four Stars Tour Schedule
Latest posts by Faye (see all)
- I AM BACK, MINIONS!!!! (plus giveaway) - October 10, 2016
- [Blog tour] + [PH Giveaway] TELL ME THREE THINGS by Julie Buxbaum – My first 5 star book in 2016! LEGIT HERE, YO! - January 23, 2016
- YA Contemporary Books: Where Were You While I Was Growing Up? - January 5, 2016