Booklist Reviews

Gladys Gatsby is a foodie who cooks in secret because her parents prefer fast food to high cuisine. Then an incident involving a blowtorch, custard, and curtains lands her in hot water and gets her banned from the kitchen. To regain her parents' trust, she tries to win the New York Standard essay contest by writing about her future as a veterinarian, until her teacher encourages her to be more creative and more honest. Gladys then writes a cover letter for her dream job—restaurant reviewer. This letter actually makes it to the dining editor, and Gladys is offered a job reviewing a fancy dessert restaurant in New York City, but how will she get there when she is only in the sixth grade? Gladys is a lovable character with plenty of spunk and ambition, and readers will happily cheer her on, while the fresh plot adds a delicious dimension to the host of stories set in sixth grade. Fans of foodie fiction should also check out Pie, by Sarah Weeks (2011) or A Tangle of Knots, by Lisa Graff (2013). Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews

Gladys, daughter of fast-food-inclined parents and herself a secret gourmet chef and amateur food critic, is grounded from using the kitchen after a cooking snafu. When a top-rated newspaper mistakenly hires the sixth grader to review a restaurant in NYC, she must slyly find a way there. Friendship (both natural and coaxed) is tastefully explored as Gladys learns how to proudly pursue her passions.

Publishers Weekly Reviews

In her debut novel, Dairman introduces sixth-grade foodie Gladys Gatsby, who—despite her parents' inexplicable aversion to all things culinary—endeavors to someday become a food critic for a New York City newspaper. The opening scene, with Gladys accidentally setting fire to the curtains while attempting to make crème brûlée, is more lively than what initially follows, as Gladys is banished from the kitchen, suffers through the trials of school, befriends the kid next door, and tries to figure out what to write for a class essay contest. Dairman's story picks up again when Gladys's essay accidentally winds up in the wrong hands and she must become a newspaper food critic overnight. Younger readers (especially those who know their way around a kitchen) will be amused by Gladys's reviews of her parents' horrible cooking ("The peas... arrived at the table in a soggy, mushy state fit for a baby") and her plot to get to New York City without alerting any adults. Though Gladys's classmates are familiar types, the triumphant conclusion makes this a tasty read. Ages 8–12. Agent: Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary Agency. (July)

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School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 4–7—Gladys's secret passion for cooking is discovered when she accidentally sets the kitchen curtains on fire trying to make crème brulee. The child has taught herself to cook to escape the fast-junk-food takeout that her parents bring home nightly. They don't share Gladys's interest in cooking, and wish that their daughter would do more "normal" kid things and make friends. But once her Parisian aunt introduces her to fine gourmet, she's hooked. When Gladys's class is challenged to enter an essay contest sponsored by the New York Standard newspaper, she writes her entry as a letter to its food editor. The letter is mistakenly given to the editor, who is desperate for a freelance restaurant critic. Not realizing that it came from a sixth grader, she emails Gladys inviting her to review a restaurant in New York City. The snag is that she must get there without her parents finding out. She hatches an elaborate plan that includes bribing the snobbiest girl in school, getting an invitation to an exclusive birthday party, and riding in a purple limousine. The plan goes disastrously and hilariously awry, but Gladys and fine food ultimately triumph. The characters are well drawn—the snob and her entourage; shy, quiet Gladys; her picky-eater friend, Sandy; the literal boy next door; and a teacher who brings out the best in her students. Give this one to your young foodies.—Nancy P. Reeder, Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, Columbia, SC

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