HomeBooks by AgeAges 4-8Dessert First: Hallie Durand

Dessert First: Hallie Durand

By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: May 19, 2009

Dessert First

by Hallie Durand (Author), Christine Davenier (Illustrator)

Reading level:
Ages 7-10

Hardcover: 160 pages

Publisher: Atheneum (May 19, 2009)

What to expect: Desserts, Schools, Restaurants, Family Life

I don’t think you’ll be hearing any rejections from readers with a title like this: Dessert First. As a lover of dessert, I judged this book by its title and cover. I knew I was going to enjoy it! I should probably mention that I received a copy of this book with a lovely little chocolate cake treat — ingenious marketing. With chocolate flowing through my veins I was destined to be a happy reader. However, the little treat was devoured long before I actually had a chance to read this book … lo and behold I was still a very happy reader, even without the mood enhancing effects of chocolate!

Dessert Schneider is a spirited third-grader. Durand’s recipe for her character is good-natured with a little bit of cheeky, which has made for a completely identifiable leading role for the intended audience. When Dessert’s class is encouraged by their teacher, Mrs. Howdy Doody, to march to one’s own drummer, Dessert takes us on a journey of contemplation that leads to sacrifice and remorse. During this story many entertaining events take place which include: convincing her family that dessert should be eaten before supper, and despite a warning from her mother to “Stay away from the Double-Ds” (Double-Decker Chocolate Bars) she manages to devour the whole box. It is the latter that carries this well-paced story to a wonderful ending that sends a subtle message of encouragement to children: always communicate with you parents. Award-winning artist Christine Daveneir helps lift the story with scrumptious illustrations rendered in pen and ink washes, her artwork gives extra flavor. I enjoyed the visual of Dessert Schneider’s signed name — it’s punctuated with an exclaiming maraschino cherry. This book is SWEET!

A very comparable series is Sarah Pennypacker’s Clementine. Durand and Pennypacker have both created believable third-grade characters that have wonderfully supportive families and school teachers.

Add this book to your collection: Dessert First

The Children’s Book Review, named one of the ALSC (Association for Library Service to Children) Great Web Sites for Kids, is a resource devoted to children’s literacy. We publish reviews and book lists of the best books for kids of all ages. We also produce author and illustrator interviews and share literacy based articles that help parents, grandparents, teachers and librarians to grow readers. This article was written and provided by one of TCBR's regular contributors.

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