by Hallie Durand
illustrations by Christine Davenier
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
on sale May 19,2009
We didn't need any more than one page of this book to agree that Mrs. Howdy Doody, Dessert Schneider's third grade teacher, would be on our list of 100 Cool Teachers in Children's Literature (which, at this writing, is one teacher short of being 125 Cool Teachers!!). Mrs. Howdy Doody tells her class on the very first day of school
"that we should march to our own drummers. Then she said, "Watch and learn." And right there in front of us, even though we didn't know her very well, she put on her white snowball slippers and marched around the classroom."Dessert comes from a food family -- her parents own a fondue restaurant. Put food family together with a girl who's learning to march to her own drummer and you get the dessert first of the title -- Dessert convices her mother to serve dessert first, and when everyone cleans their plates after dessert, the experiment becomes the norm.
When Mrs. Doody announces the Doody Drive fundraiser that will make money to build a treehouse at Lambert Elementary, readers know WAY before Dessert what sacrifice she will make, what beloved thing she will give up for two weeks in order to earn pledges for the fundraiser. But just in case we don't know exactly how hard it will be, we get to watch Dessert succumb to the call of a box of Double-Decker Brownies and then figure out a way to atone for her mistake.
This short novel will leave readers in grades 2-5 hungry for dessert and for more stories about Dessert.