In the Middle with Tara Dairman

Warning: This week’s In the Middle just might make you drool. Cover your keyboards.

Today, we are chatting with Tara Dairman, author of All Four Stars (Putnam/Penguin).

All Four Stars by Tara Dairman Cover

“A scrumptious gem of a story!”—Jennifer A. Nielsen, New York Times bestselling author of The False Prince

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 brûlée 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?

All Four Stars is available on all of the following websites, and bookstores near you.

Indiebound * Penguin * B&N * Amazon * BAM * Powell’s * Walmart * Indigo * Book Depository  

Q&A with Tara

What draws you into writing for a middle grade audience?

Middle graders are the perfect mix of curious and capable—just starting to show hints of their adult potential, but not so far removed from the world of play that they’re all jaded about things yet. Plus, most of my favorite books are middle-grade ones, so I guess it’s no surprise that I ended up writing it myself!

If you had a time machine and could visit middle grade you, what would you tell him/her? (If you have a photo of yourself at this age, I’d love to post it.)

Sixth grade was a pretty tough year for me. There was some bullying. Most days I wouldn’t have anyone to play with during recess, so I carried a notebook out onto the playground and worked on a (never-completed) science fiction novel.

If I could go back in time, I guess I would tell myself that one day, far in the future, my dreams of completing and publishing a novel would come true, and that they’d draw on that tough year more than sixth-grade me could probably ever imagine.

Or maybe I’d just sign sixth-grade me out for lunch, so she could go eat something tasty for a change and not have to worry about how to get through recess. 🙂

Choose your own adventure: Is there an interview question you’d love to answer, but haven’t been asked?

bluebarb pie

No one has asked me yet which of the desserts featured in ALL FOUR STARS is my favorite! While I love a lot of them, I’d have to go with the “bluebarb crumble,” which has a special significance for me. Instead of a cake, my  husband and I had “wedding pies” at our wedding, a different flavor on each table. But for our own special pie, we weren’t sure what flavor to choose. My favorite kind of pie is rhubarb, and his is blueberry. So we asked the baker if she could put them together, and voila: bluebarb pie was born. And it was so good that I decided to immortalize it in my novel.

Thanks for having me, Heidi!

The pleasure was all mine. Seriously. You brought pie! I might not ever let you leave.

Tara Dairman is a novelist, playwright, and recovering world traveler (2 years, 74 countries)! Her first middle-grade novel, All Four Stars, will be published on July 10, 2014 by Putnam/Penguin. Tara has a B.A. in Creative Writing from Dartmouth College, and currently teaches writing to students aged 6-13. Connect with Tara on, Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.


  1. And a few more links | tara dairman - […] Schulz (whose debut MG novel Hook’s Revenge comes out this fall!) has me at her blog with an “In the…

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