Dessert First is the first book of Hallie Durand’s trilogy about Dessert Schneider, an eight year old in Mrs. Howdy Doody’s third grade class. Dessert loves dessert, especially chocolate, and thanks to Mrs. Howdy Doody’s advice to march to the beat of her own drummer, she has convinced her parents to serve dessert before meals, rather than after. Unfortunately, though, whatever she has for dessert, Dessert can’t help but be tempted by the Double-Decker bars her mom has set aside in the freezer. She sneaks one bite, which leads to another, and another, until all the bars are gone! Dessert feels extremely guilty, but even with Mrs. Howdy Doody’s help, she’s not sure she can confess to her crime.
This quirky series has been a favorite of mine for a while now, and I was disappointed last year when I learned that No Room for Dessert was to be the last story about Dessert. I had missed this first book, though, since none of my usual libraries have owned a copy until now, so it was a treat to see this one come across my desk and to enjoy one more adventure with these fun characters. Dessert’s guilt about eating all the Double Deckers and her anxiety over how to earn her parents’ forgiveness is a very relatable story line. Kids around Dessert’s age are just starting to be responsible for their own actions, and this story really understands and demonstrates how difficult it can be to make things right after doing something wrong.
I enjoyed this book mostly because it gave me the backstory for the later two stories. I got a chance to see a more human and less cartoonish side of the offbeat Mrs. Howdy Doody, and I finally understand the whole story behind the Schneiders’ decision to eat dessert first. I also think it’s interesting to see how much stronger the characters and plots become from the beginning of the trilogy to the end. This book was solid, but each one in the series is better than the next.
To find out what’s next for Hallie Durand, and to see a picture of the real life Mrs. Howdy Doody, check out this interview at Jama’s Alphabet Soup.
I borrowed Dessert First from my local public library.