Gladys Gatsby loves food. She loves the intricate flavors, the fine-tuned process of preparation, and the joys of successful creation. Unfortunately, her parents don't share this love. In their house, if it can't be microwaved, it can't be good. So Gladys is an underground cook, sneaking to grow her vast knowledge and experience in the kitchen. That worked until she lights the kitchen on fire. Banished from cooking, Gladys continues to dream, and write her food critiques in her journal.
In All Four Stars by Tara Dairman, Gladys expresses her lifelong dream of becoming a food critic in a writing contest that accidently lands on the desk of the Dining Department head at a New York newspaper. Suddenly, Gladys has been hired to write an article on a new dessert restaurant in town. The problem is, she is 11 years old, can't tell her parents about her situation, and can't get into the city to taste the delicious food before the newspaper deadline. But she doesn't give up. After a series of failed attempts, Gladys learns how to use her food skills themselves to help her reach her dreams.
I read All Four Stars in one afternoon. I started when it arrived in the mail, then just didn't bother to put it down. Although I felt a little bogged in backstory towards the beginning of the book, Gladys herself pulled me along with her determination and focused thinking. As the plot thickened, I couldn't put it down. As Gladys raced to beat the deadline, I couldn't wait to read about her win. Very strong characters, mixed with a fun, complicated plot, give this book a high Chicken Scratch score!
All Four Stars gets 5 out of 6 Chicken Scratches