All Four Stars

6 CDs. 6:32 hrs. Ideal Audiobooks on Dreamscape. 2016. $39.99. ISBN 9781520014869. 1 MP3-CD.
Gr 4–7—After a crème brûlée blowtorch fiasco, Gladys Gatsby's parents ban her from the kitchen and insist that she do more normal sixth grade stuff, like playing video games and shopping at the mall. They also encourage watching more TV—but no cooking shows. Poor Gladys! Thanks to her aunt Lydia and trips to Mr. Eng's Gourmet Grocery, this East Dumpsford gastronome prefers a steaming bowl of pho bo, fragrant with Thai basil and spicy Vietnamese cinnamon, to the greasy takeout her parents enjoy. When a class essay contest mistakenly gets her hired (sight unseen) as a fill-in food critic for a New York City newspaper, Gladys is thrilled. Now her only problem is how to fool her editor and fulfill her review assignment without her parents finding out. Gladys goes to spectacular lengths (with some help from her neighbor Sandy), which provides amusing twists and turns for readers. Narrator Kathleen McInerney hits the right note with the narration: lively yet not too sweet. Recipes for some dishes mentioned in the book are available on the author's website.
VERDICT A sweet and undemanding listen. Gladys can come across as occasionally annoyingly superior, but what young gourmet wouldn't be frustrated with parents who love white bread and low-calorie mayo and whose every meal is nuked in a microwave? ["Give this one to your young foodies": SLJ 5/14 review of the Putnam book.]

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