Thank you for the amazing 8 years here at A Baked Creation, we can't thank you enough for the memories! But we've decided to move over to a new site - Sincerely, Syl. Please join us there for future posts on all the things you loved here!


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Blog Tour: The Stars of Summer by Tara Dairman

Good morning!

I'm honoured to be hosting today's blog tour stop for The Stars of Summer by Tara Dairman. You might remember this middle-grade series which started with All Four Stars when I participated in my first book blog tour last year (and made osmanthus crème brûlée). In the first book, we're introduced to eleven-year-old foodie Gladys Gatsby who has to convince her takeout-loving parents that cooking is fun as well as plan her first restaurant review and remain an anonymous critic for the city's largest paper. All while fitting in to do "regular" activities that kids her age do (you know, make a few supportive friends and get invited to the most exclusive birthday party).

In the sequel, we follow twelve-year-old Gladys Gatsby on her summer plans. I don't know about you, but I'm really looking forward to summer and reading about Gladys adventures brought me back to fond camp memories and a longing to visit New York City again.

The Stars of Summer
Written by Tara Dairman
Hardcover | 366 pages | Ages 8–12
ISBN 978-0-39917-069-0

Gladys is looking forward to a quiet summer at home, learn a few new dishes and cooking techniques, and hopefully get assigned another restaurant review. But first, a birthday!

To celebrate turning twelve, Gladys' parents take her to a Spanish restaurant in Manhattan for tapas, joining her are her friends Parm Singh, Charissa Bentley, and Sandy Anderson. Personalities clash, but once they plan their food orders (to try as many dishes as they can on the menu), and the food arrives, the chaos begins! The worst part is . . . the gifts! Charissa gives Gladys a whole summer of joining her at Camp Bentley. Yup, the one Charissa's parents run.

Camp life isn't easy. There's an annoying "celebrity" camper (spoiler: the celebrity is an author. I love that authors are considered celebrities here), she has to learn how to swim, and she's not exactly loved and praised for her lunch-making skills. On top of that, she's been assigned to find the best hot dog in New York City.

I thought it would be fun to plan a hot dog taste test in my own city. So if I were ever assigned to look for the best hot dog in Toronto, here are three spots I would visit:

There are so many sausage options here! Playing it safe, I would want to try the beef/coriander, pork/chili paste, or turkey/cilantro/jalepeño. The lamb/harissa, pheasant apple/sundried tomato, and wild boar mushroom/tea. All on a toasted fresh bun of course!

No question about it, I would pick the Korean beef ribs, kimchi, sasame seeds, and scallions hot dog to try first. I love it when Korean food is paired with anything. Then the Po'Boy hot dog with panko fried shrimp, lettuce, Horseradish mayo, and hot sauce. Just because I love the n'walins vibe!

They have a Toronto dog, so I think it's a given to try the one named after the city! It features berkshire pork belly, peameal bacon from St. Lawrence market, cheddar mayo, and onion strings. My next pick would be the Spicy Thai Dog with chicken breast, green curry, lime leaves, basil, mango salad, peanut satay sauce, and toasted coconut. Then, the Chicago Shout-Out featuring local beef chuck and pork shoulder, yellowy mustard, sweet pickle relish, raw onion, tomato, pepperoncini, and celery salt.

But, like Gladys, I find that it's the people you're with and the experiences you're sharing that make the hot dog meal memorable. For instance, I have fond memories of eating hot dogs with my family at Ikea or Costco. Simply because it's a treat to get something to munch on when your parents are shopping. As a kid, you're given a few dollars to exchange it for a hot dog and drink. There's something fun about getting that foiled wrapped hot dog or packaged in identical paper holders. Or the meals you have on the sidewalks when you're downtown and the sizzling hot dog is the most delicious thing you've eaten all day. Everyone's standing around with their own customized toppings, while the ketchup is dripping down your shirt and pants (no? just me?). Or the times when you're on holiday or visiting a tourist attraction and it's hot dogs for everyone at the zoo, amusement park, or museum. Those are the moments when you have the best hot dog. Years later, I don't think it would be one at a sit-down restaurant that I'll remember.

Unless it's a boy who likes you and takes you to a restaurant where there's a sandwich named after you. But, let me get back on track here. Gladys learns to survive camp and even enjoy it. She bonds with her parents through private swimming lessons and city shenanigans. And she learns how to deal with tricky people in sticky situations. If you're looking for a heartwarming, funny, and food-filled read, this is it. You can't help but crack a smile when you start, chuckle quietly as you're a few chapters in, then laugh out loud and shake your head at the same time. The ending makes you want to applaud and cheer for the good guys. Gladys will remind you of yourself as a kid and for children reading it, they'll want to be in Gladys' group of friends. I hear there's a third book in the works and I can't wait to read it!

Thanks for stopping by, please visit the other bloggers on the tour:
Monday, April 27: Katie/Bookish Illuminations
Tuesday, April 28: Aeicha/Word Spelunking and Emma/Awkwordly Emma
Wednesday, April 29: Sylvia/A Baked Creation (that's me!)
Thursday, April 30: Bonnie /For the Love of Words
Friday, May 1: Lisa/Fic Talk
Monday, May 4: Lucy/The Reading Date
Tuesday, May 5: LAUNCH DAY!
Wednesday, May 6: Dahlia/Daily Dahlia
Thursday, May 7: Karen/For What it’s Worth
Friday, May 8: Jen/Pop! Goes the Reader
Monday, May 11: Stephanie/Kitchen Frolic
Tuesday, May 12: Brenda/Log Cabin Library
Wednesday, May 13: Michael/Project Mayhem and Wendy/The Midnight Garden

Tara Dairman is the author of All Four Stars, which was named an Amazon Best Book of the and a Mighty Girl Top Book of 2014 for Teens and Tweens. She is also a playwright and recovering world traveler. She grew up in New York and received a B.A. in Creative Writing from Dartmouth College. After surviving the world's longest honeymoon (two years, seventy-four countries!), she now lives in Colorado with her husband and their trusty waffle iron.

Credits: Blog tour button / Kristin Rae; Book cover / Kelly Murphy

Disclaimer: An ARC of The Stars of Summer was sent to me from Putnam/Penguin for the blog tour.