Book Club: “All Four Stars” by Tara Dairman

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I’ve had trouble keeping up with our book club sharing, but we’ve been having loads of fun with books this year!  All Four Stars was one of those books.


Meet Gladys Gatsby: New York’s toughest restaurant critic. (Just don’t tell anyone that she’s in sixth grade.)

Gladys Gatsby has been cooking gourmet dishes since the age of seven, only her fast-food-loving parents have no idea! Now she’s eleven, and after a crème brulee accident (just a small fire), Gladys is cut off from the kitchen (and her allowance). She’s devastated but soon finds just the right opportunity to pay her parents back when she’s mistakenly contacted to write a restaurant review for one of the largest newspapers in the world.  But in order to meet her deadline and keep her dream job, Gladys must cook her way into the heart of her sixth-grade archenemy and sneak into New York City – all while keeping her identity a secret! Easy as pie, right?

There are so many things that I wanted to do with my book clubbers for this book!  The possibilities are endless, and they’re so very fun, but …. I couldn’t decide, so this one became a multi-day event!
Book Club All Four Stars
On the first day of our All Four Stars book club event, we headed to Durham to the India Gate, a family-owned restaurant with a lunch buffet.  This seemed like a great way for our kids, none of whom had ever tasted Indian food before, to sample some of the things that made up Gladys’ best meal ever.
The people at the India Gate couldn’t have been kinder, even though we took up fully half of their tables during their busy lunch rush.  If you’re in the Triangle area of North Carolina, the India Gate is definitely worth a visit.
Gazar Halwa
One reason I chose the India Gate over other local Indian restaurants is that they feature Gazar al Halwa on their menu.  The orange-y dish in the front is this one.  Several of the book clubbers were also excited to try goat, as they’d never eaten it before, and so one family ordered goat biryani and shared it with the group.  
Book Clubbers Foodie Review
Following our delicious lunch, we headed to a Chick Fil-A down the street – not because we were still hungry, but because we wanted a quiet place to sit and write a review, Gladys-style, of the food we had just eaten without being overheard by the India Gate staff.  The kids got in groups and wrote their reviews, trying hard to use foodie phrases and colorful, descriptive words just like Gladys.
The next day we continued our Indian foodie theme.  A former missionary to India came to visit us, and she was wonderful!  She brought photos of her life in India, told stories about cultural differences, and even brought a sari that she wore to a wedding during her time there.  She helped each female put on the main piece of the sari to get a feel for what the traditional clothing was like.  It was a beautiful sari!
Money from India
She also brought money from India for us to pass around and compare to our American money.  She brought storybooks, snacks, and more, too.  It was truly a wonderful and informative visit.
Matcha Green Tea Cupcakes
After that, we baked Gladys’ green tea cupcakes with sesame icing.  I love that Dairman has some of Gladys’ recipes on her website!  We really had no idea what these would taste like, but we were all pleasantly surprised.  Rather than tasting strongly of a new flavor (which would have been okay, just new), they were mild, with the icing tasting like peanut butter.  Several of the kids had seconds!
For our last All Four Stars project, we Skyped with Tara Dairman herself!  She was very nice and told great stories.  I loved hearing the kids ask about her writing journey and her world travels.  (I was so focused on the conversation that I forgot to take pictures!)  I’m so glad that she was willing to speak with us.  Why is it so important to meet friendly authors like Dairman?  Find out here.
All in all, I loved our experiences with All Four Stars.  We tried new things right along with Gladys, we learned about other cultures, and we tried our hand at writing restaurant reviews.  If you have a fellow foodie or are looking for a fun, foodie read, definitely check out All Four Stars.
For even more learning fun, check out these projects:
All Four Stars Cover
Vocab Writing Prompts Cover
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