Dessert First by Hallie Durrand. (Grades 2-5.)
Dessert Schneider marches to the beat of her own drummer, whether she's bribing her younger sister to clean her room or convincing her family that they should start serving dessert first. Her heart's in the right place, but following her own drummer always seems to get Dessert into trouble. When she accidentally ruins a special surprise, Dessert will have to figure out a way to make it up to her family.
One of the Amazon reviews compared Dessert to Eloise and I think that's a great comparison. She's a spunky little girl, imperfect and completely self-assured. She likes things the way she likes them and she's a tiny bit devious. Still, she's figuring out right from wrong and when she makes a mistake, she's eager to make things right.
I loved the characters in the Schneider family. Dessert takes care of her younger siblings and her parents own a fondue restaurant, so that's something different. I wish we got more details about their family dynamic. Dessert's third-grade teacher, Mrs. Howdy Doody, is a lot of fun. She encourages her "happy learners" and is there for Dessert when she has problems.
Disappointing was Dessert's nemesis, Amy D., who's completely one-note. She's mean to Dessert for seemingly no reason and we never see any other side to her. If there are more Dessert books, maybe that relationship will develop a little bit.
It's no Clementine, but I think Dessert First will appeal to kids who like books in that spunky girl genre (think Moxy Maxwell, Ruby Lu, or Ramona). And the descriptions of food will melt in your mouth (and make you long for the recipe for Grandma Reine's Double Decker Chocolate Bars)!
Read Mary Lee's review!