MMGM: ALL FOUR STARS by Tara Dairman

It’s only been two weeks and I have another MMGM. Can you believe it?

I’ve been waiting to read ALL FOUR STARS ever since October 2011, when it was entered in the same Secret Agent contest as my first middle grade manuscript. That first page is pretty similar to what I remember :). About six months after that–after Tara Dairman had signed with her agent and had a publishing deal–she offered critiques for all of the entries on Krista Van Dolzer’s Writer’s Voice team for my second manuscript, so I’ve had more than one encounter with her, although she might not realize it. In any case, I’m excited to review her book today. Here’s the blurb.

All Four Stars by Tara DairmanMeet 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 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?

And here are the five things I loved most about ALL FOUR STARS:

1. The food – I’m not a foodie by any stretch of imagination. In fact, I’m a pretty picky eater (although nowhere near as picky as Gladys’s friend Parm), but I loved living vicariously through Gladys and her descriptions of exotic foods. Hey, if you can have adventures through books, you might as well experience new foods through a book!

2. The parents – Poor Mr. and Mrs. Gatsby. They have no idea what to do with their daughter’s hobby. Seeing them through Gladys’s eyes is comical, and yet by the end of the story, she comes to appreciate them more.

3. The friendships – At the beginning of the book, Gladys is so wrapped up in cooking she doesn’t care much about friends. The cooking ban forces her to branch out and make new friends, which she finds in surprising places. I really enjoyed what she learned about finding things in common with the most unexpected people.

4. The disasters – The book starts out with a disaster, and they keep piling up. Nothing seems to go right for Gladys–with the exception of the fluke that gets her the reviewing job–and this provides some excellent humor in the story. There were several laugh-out-loud moments.

5. The ending – All I can say about this is that the ending fit perfectly with everything else that happened in the book. Ahhh, Gladys!

Have you read ALL FOUR STARS yet? What did you think?

Responses to “MMGM: ALL FOUR STARS by Tara Dairman”

  1. Tara Dairman

    Thank you so much for this review, Michelle! I’m so glad you enjoyed AFS. And yes, our paths have crossed multiple times–and I’m sure they will again in the future. Best of luck with your writing!

  2. Greg Pattridge

    I haven’t read this one yet. It’s been on my massive TBR list for a long time. I’m going to get it off of there by the end of the year. Thanks for the nudge with your positive review.

  3. Joanne Fritz

    Thanks for the recommendation. I’ve heard so much about this book (first time, I think, was from Michael G-G in April) and I’m dying to read it. I’ll have to put a hold on it at the library; it’s always out.

  4. jennienzor

    I’m so excited about this one! I also won a copy and I’m looking forward to reading it. I am a foodie, and love books with food in them. And from all accounts, Gladys sounds like a character I’d love.

    • Michelle I. Mason

      Gladys is a keeper! My 4-year-old–who already loves to cook–has already told me she wants me to save this book for her just based on the cover. You’ll love it!


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