Friday, August 5, 2011

Happiness is...a good book. (Summer Reading edition #40)

Just Desserts
Author: Hallie Durand
Illustrator: Christine Davenier
Pages: 190
Age Range: 6+
Published: 2010
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Cover Score: **
Overall Grade: ****

In the spirit of Junie B., Clementine and Ramona comes a feisty new heroine with problems of her own and hilarious solutions that will have readers sympathizing and laughing out loud.

Donahue Penelope Schneider (nicknamed Dessert by her grandmother) is the oldest of four kids and her annoying siblings are ruining her life! Her little sister Charlie, in an effort to learn good manners, has ceased to do everything Dessert asks her to do. Wolfie decides to help out by cleaning Dessert's room with pink toothpaste and Kleenex. Mushy ruins Dessert's chances for dessert when he pulls the tablecloth and all its toppings onto the floor of their parent's restaurant. And that's just the beginning!

Inspired by her teacher's enthusiastic lessons regarding the Revolutionary War, Dessert decides to declare her own independence from younger siblings!  She creates a club and invites her classmates to join.  She makes membership stickers, collects dues, and promises to solve all of their annoying sibling problems. But things are a little harder than she anticipates.  Soon she has angry club participants (and their parents) demanding their dues back (which she'd spent on several coveted hot lunches). But Charlies surprises her by coming to the rescue and things work out after all.

Dessert has a great voice. I laughed right out loud at a few points. I was also impressed by the realistic adults Dessert interacts with. Her teacher is the kind that every child wishes she had, fun and enthusiastic and full of grand ideas. She's a great balance to the slightly overworked and frustrated parents who often fail to give Dessert the attention she wants simply because she is the oldest (ah, I can relate to that!) They are still great parents, just not perfect. It was also refreshing to read a modern-day story where there is more than one or two kids in the family.

There are some black and white sketch illustrations scattered throughout the text and even a few of Dessert's favorite dessert recipes included in the back. This is a great early reader chapter book perfect for kids who have graduated from the simple beginning readers but still need really small chapters and some pictures to keep them going. Fun stuff!

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