Dessert First

Hallie Durand, Author, Christine Davenier, Illustrator , illus. by Christine Davenier. S&S/Atheneum $14.99 (153p) ISBN 978-1-4169-6385-1

As might be expected from her name alone, Dessert, the spunky narrator of this refreshing debut, takes to heart her third-grade teacher's advice to march to one's own drummer. First on Dessert's agenda: getting to eat dessert before dinner (“Mummy and Daddy, in a perfect world, dessert comes before supper. My body is calling for dessert first”). Durand displays a knack for comedic timing in a sequence in which Dessert discovers a box of Double-Decker Chocolate Bars and, despite her mother's warnings (“Stay away from the Double-Ds ”), she samples (and finishes) the treats over several visits to the fridge. Her voice rings as true in somber moments. After a climactic scene in which the empty box is discovered (with much howling by both mother and daughter), a remorseful Dessert asks her teacher, Mrs. Howdy Doody, how she can make amends. When the teacher responds, “Try to think like you usually do,” Dessert laments, “That's how I got into trouble.” Davenier's (the Iris and Walter series) humorous b&w pictures ably convey this endearing heroine's mercurial moods. Readers will be left craving a second helping. Ages 7–10. (May)