Yes, I can feel chipper at the start of the week because I'm taking part of something fun today - the Stars So Sweet blog tour! This middle-grade book releases tomorrow and if you've read the first two books, All Four Stars and The Stars of Summer, then you'll want to know how it all pans out for Gladys Gatsby.
And before we dip in, I just want to say that sometimes it's completely okay to judge a book by its cover because there will be certain aspects in it that just scream out to you. Bunting? Check. Macarons? Check. Madeleines? Check. Cupcakes? Check. Even a cake stand? Yup. I'm pretty sure ten-year-old Sylvia would have picked up this final book in the All Four Stars trilogy. Kids these days are so lucky that there are so many great books for them to choose from. Each geared to their own interests. That's why shows like MasterChef Junior exist, right?
Written by Tara Dairman
Hardcover | 288 pages | Ages 8-12
Picking up from the second book, summer is winding down and Gladys Gatsby has to prepare for the next big step in her life - middle school. Will she be able to juggle classes, homework, after-school activities, and critiquing restaurants for the New York Standard? What's going on with her and Hamilton Herbertson? Why is the school newspaper reporter on her tail? At least she still has Sandy, Parm, and Charissa by her side . . . right? Her parents have limited her time in the kitchen again and then, to her complete surprise, Aunt Lydia shows up on their door step too.
What do you think? Enough for any twelve-year-old to handle as they enter a busy fall? Probably more than anyone can handle calmly, but Gladys Gatsby does it with grace and help from her friends and advice from few exceptional adults. Not only is she problem solving her own dilemmas, but she has time to organize bake sales at school to help out the after-school programs.
What I love about these books is that there's no magic miracle that comes to the rescue, every issue is figured out in a timely basis and completely plausible. Things don't just fall in place for the perfect happy ending, the characters have to try and try again. Take Sandy's challenge at earning his reputation at school. Or the fact that friendships need to take time to build - Parm and Charissa didn't start out on good terms at first, but given the chance and their friendship to Gladys, they slowly learn to accept each other.
Of course the main feature that I admire in Tara Dairman's writing is how funny the situations can become and Gladys practical commentary has me in stitches. And the food writing - spot on for any aspiring foodie. It's in the chapter titles, it's in Gladys' restaurant reviews, and in her daily metaphors and similes. Really, I give this series all four stars!
Cheddar and Scallion Madeleines
(Makes a dozen)
1/2 stick of salted butter
3/4 cups of all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
2 large eggs, room temperature
3 tablespoons of milk
1/3 cup of grated smoked cheddar (I'm sure regular cheddar will work too)
2 tablespoons of finely chopped scallions
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Brush melted butter on your madeleine pans or use a cooking spray.
- Place the butter and oil in a microwavable glass bowl or measuring cup. Microwave on low until butter has melted. Whisk to combine and let it cool for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add eggs, one at a time, and whisk until completely blended.
- Add milk and whisk for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Stir in the cheese and scallions.
- Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper and whisk until the batter is fully combined.
- Using a spoon, scoop, or teaspoon, fill the molds on the madeleine pan with the batter. Don't fill it completely, leave a sliver of space so that the madeleine can expand while baking.
- Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until the madeleines pull up and the edges are golden brown.
- Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool for 2 to 3 minutes. Use a small fork or spatula to remove the madeleines from the pan.
Just so you know, when these are baking in the oven, your kitchen will smell delicious. Howard was in the den yelling, "I smell bacon!! Give me bacon!" while I was yelling back, "I'm not making bacon!!!"Tara Dairman is the author of the middle-grade foodie novel All Four Stars (Putnam/Penguin) which was named an Amazon Best Book of the Month and won a 2015 SCBWI Crystal Kite Award. The Stars of Summer followed in 2015, and Stars so Sweet (7/19/16) completes the series. Tara grew up in New York and holds 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 family.
Visit the other blog tour stops here:
The Daily Dahlia >> The Reading Date >> Bookish Illuminations >> Log Cabin Library >> Word Spelunking >> FWIW >> Fic Talk >> Pop Goes the Reader >> Kitchen Frolic >> Creative Spaces
Credits: Blog tour button / Kristin Rae; Book cover / Kelly Murphy
Disclaimer: An ARC of Stars So Sweet was sent to me from Putnam/Penguin for the blog tour.