Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Dessert First

Dessert First

Hallie Durand
Illustrator:  Christine Davenier 
For ages 7 to 10
Simon and Schuster, 2009   ISBN: 978-1416963851

On the first day of third grade Dessert’s new teacher, Mrs. Howdy Doody, tells her students “to march to our own drummers,” and she proceeds to march around the class room wearing slippers decorated with pompoms. At first Dessert does not know what to think of Mrs. Howdy Doody and her rather unusual approach to teaching, but she decides to try marching to her own drummer all the same. She begins by trying to convince her parents that the best time to eat dessert is at the beginning of a meal and not at the end.

   For a time Dessert’s efforts get her nowhere. Her parents are not in the least bit interested in letting Dessert eat dessert before she has her entrée. Dessert pushes, and her parents make it clear that her demands are not at all appreciated. Dessert retreats from the field of battle, but she does not give up. Then one day, when her father is working at the family restaurant, Dessert’s mother lets her have her dessert first. The experiment is considered a success when Dessert and her younger siblings all eat their chili and corn cakes without any trouble at all, even though they ate their cookies first.

   Dessert is thrilled that, thanks to Mrs. Howdy Doody, she is now allowed to eat her dessert first every night. By encouraging her students to march to their own drummer, Mrs. Howdy Doody has, in Dessert’s opinion, “changed my whole life.” Unfortunately, Dessert’s success does not prevent her from hankering for more dessert in her life. One day Dessert’s mother makes some scrumptious Double-Decker-Chocolate Bars and Dessert is told that the treats are “off-limits.” Clearly Dessert’s mother is saving the Double-D’s for some special event or occasion. Though Dessert knows full well what the words off-limits mean, she cannot help having a little nibble of the chocolaty delights. Then she has another taste. And another.

   In this amusing story children will meet an eight-year-old girl who does not always have the self-control that she should have. Her story will certainly resonate with many readers who have struggled with their own hankerings for that forbidden snack, dessert, or toy. Sometimes we just can’t help ourselves, and then, inevitably, we end up getting into trouble. Lots of trouble.  If only we hadn’t done it!

   In this chapter book Dessert’s adventures are handled with sensitivity and humor, and readers will soon grow fond of the little girl who is very determined to get what she wants.