A 12-year-old girl who secretly works as a restaurant reviewer for a major newspaper juggles her professional life, scholastic responsibilities, and circle of friends, all while beginning a new school.
Gladys Gatsby, who lives in suburban East Dumpsford, is as busy as popcorn on a skillet in her third outing, which picks up right where The Stars of Summer (2015) left off. Paced at a rapid boil, the story is both overstuffed and underspiced, and the characters, though well-differentiated, have individual traits but not much flavor. The plot ingredients include Gladys’ unemployed aunt Lydia, who needs help getting her life together; figuring out what to do about a job offer from Gladys’ editor, who doesn’t know her real age; helping her friend Sandy become the “gross-foods king” of his class; reconnecting with her summertime crush; and her commitment to far too many after-school clubs. Although Gladys may have bitten off more than she can chew, Dairman’s resourceful and increasingly confident heroine works hard to help her friends and fulfill her responsibilities. Gladys, who’s white, has a close Indian friend and other classmates of color, and she lightly explores food from several cultures.
Dairman manages to blend an overabundance of ingredients into a tasty dish that series fans should eat up. (Fiction. 9-13)