Dessert Schneider doesn’t know what to think on the first day of third grade when her teacher introduces herself as Mrs. Howdy Doody and starts marching around in fluffy white slippers. But then Mrs. Howdy Doody tells the class that they should all find their own personal style and march to their very own drummers. And Dessert kind of likes that idea because it means she might have a chance to eat dessert first (before dinner) once in a while–if she marches just right.
Dessert comes from a family of foodies. Her younger sister Charlie and brothers Wolfie and Mushy all love food. And her parents own Fondue Paris, a very cool restaurant specializing in all things fondue. Coming from this background, it is no surpise that Dessert signs her name with a Maraschino cherry anymore than she believes that cherry is all you need in life, along with something to put the cherry on of course.
The problem with belonging to a food family, though, is that sometimes food–especially sweet chocolately foods–can be really distracting. When Dessert discovers an off limit box of special Double-Decker Bars at home, she knows she has to try just one. At least, it was supposed to be just one. Sometimes, without Dessert meaning to, things get out of hand because she spends too much time getting into trouble and not enough time thinking about how to avoid it.
Dessert First by Hallie Durand (with illustrations by Christine Davenier) is the first book about Dessert Schneider and her family. While not as good as the first Clementine book (possibly because it’s just plain shorter), I saw a lot of similarities between the two books. Dessert is a really likable eight-year-old with a fascinating family.
The illustrations add a lot to the story as well. Sometimes I find myself dissappointed, after seeing the colorful cover, to discover that a book has black-and-white illustrations but Davenier’s are done with thick lines and bold geometric patterns (mostly on Dessert’s dresses) that really make them work.
That said, some aspects of the plot did bother me. I was never a eat-dessert-first kind of kid so I found Dessert’s singular interest in the matter to be . . . interersting. An eight-year-old sneaking not one but twelve brownies without anyone noticing was also interesting. It set up a chance to learn an important lesson, but it was also just strange because Dessert didn’t seem to have any self control. I get it in terms of the story but I wonder if it could happen in the real world. Finally, I had issues with the Doody Drive at the end of the story where all of the elementary school is asked to give up something they love for two weeks to pledge money to build a tree house. It just seemed bizarre and not entirely appropriate for a grade school to me. Maybe that’s just me. . . .
Weird bits aside, I see big things in Dessert’s future and hope that Dessert First leads to bigger and better installments about the Schneider family.