Dessert First and Just Desserts by Hallie Durand

So, the other day I posted about how I sometimes read books that are too “old” to include on this book blog (so that you don’t think I’m slacking off in between posts!)  But sometimes, I like to read books that are younger than what I would normally pick because they are just flat-out funny.  They help me think about how kids see the world around them, and as a teacher, that’s a good thing.  I think most teachers set up their Accelerated Reader programs so that you can’t take quizzes on any books that are lower than your set reading level, but that doesn’t mean you can’t read them just for fun.  It’s good to give your brain a break, even if it is reading a picture book, or going back to re-read an old favorite.  When you get older and go back to something you have read before, your brain likes it because it is familiar to you and you’ve already practiced it.  (I could read Charlotte’s Web every day!)  But also, since you are now older and you know more and you’ve read more and you’ve experienced more, you can still learn from it again.  You might learn something totally different about the characters in the book…and you might learn something new about yourself.  I challenge you to go read an old favorite and then share it with someone else!

While I was at the library the other day, I was on the hunt for a particular book, but couldn’t find it on the shelf.  I started to wander down the shelf and I spotted these two books, side-by-side.  That was like an invitation to pick them right up! (Best part of the library? Wandering and finding things by surprise!)  The first book is called Dessert First and the main character is a third grader named Dessert.  Well, sort of.  Her real name is Donohue, but when she was born, her grandmother nicknamed her “Dessert.”  She spoke French though, so it sounded fancier, like “day-zair.”  Dessert even signs her name with a cherry at the end, to show her personal “flair.”  Dessert has a younger sister and two toddler brothers, who are called “The Beasties” because they are naughty.  Her family owns a fondue restaurant and if you like eating or cooking, you’ll enjoy those parts of the story.  Sometimes Dessert goes to help out at the restaurant.  (If you have never heard of fondue, you can get some information and some recipes here–  http://familyfun.go.com/recipes/fondue-fun-714412/)

Dessert has a teacher named Mrs. Howdy Doody, and she sounds like a teacher that I would love to know.  Mrs. Howdy Doody encourages the children to “march to your own drummer, ” meaning to do things in your own unique way.  Dessert decides that eating dessert first is really the best way to do dinner properly, and tries to convince her parents that this will be the new unique way they should eat together each night.  Mrs. Howdy Doody is starting a fundraiser and she is asking every student to make a sacrifice for two weeks.  Parents will sponsor their children for each day they succeed in giving up their favorite thing and then the money will be used to build something special for the whole school.  Knowing that Dessert takes her name very seriously, it’s not hard to figure out what her sacrifice will be after a hilarious run-in with some Double Decker Chocolate Bars.  (The recipe is in the book, too, and I am totally going to make some!)  What is not predictable is how she manages to work around her problem, and how she ends up surprising herself at the end.

In the second book, Just Desserts, it seems that all of the third graders have had it up. to. here. with their bothersome brothers and sisters (and one dog.)  Mrs. Howdy Doody is teaching about American history and the words “Let Freedom Ring” become stuck in Dessert’s head.  Why shouldn’t she get some independence from her annoying siblings?  She starts a club for her friends, in which she sets out to solve all of their problems, only she quickly discovers that her advice is not always enough, or even well-thought out.  She is in over her head, and the worst part is that she already spent some of the dues everyone has paid her for her services!  Dessert learns a hard lesson about friendship and honesty, but she is also finds out that those annoying siblings can also be there when you need them.

There is a third book called No Room for Dessert, but it just came out a few weeks ago and was not available at the library yet.  Read these books if you like spunky girls like Ramona Quimby (by Beverly Cleary) or Junie B. Jones (by Barbara Park.)  Another series that I keep seeing mentioned with the Dessert books,  but I have not personally read, are the Clementine books by Sarah Pennypacker.

Dessert First has an AR level of 4.5 and is worth 2 points.  Just Desserts has an AR level of 4.9 and is worth 3 points.

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