Tuesday, May 20

Dairy Queen

My grandpa Wenzel had a wonderful truck equipped with a Dairy Queen sensor. Whenever we passed a Dairy Queen, the truck would veer out of his control and turn in at the DQ for ice cream for his grandkids. Grandpa was a big, strong, gentle man, but he could never escape the gravitational pull of a DQ--at least when we were with him. It was fantastic! We begged Mom and Dad to get a DQ sensor too, but we never succeeded.

There's another DQ story about Grandma and Grandpa Wenzel: when the Minnesota Twins won, Grandma and Grandpa would celebrate with a bowl of Dairy Queen soft serve ice cream. When the Twins lost? They would console themselves with a bowl of Dairy Queen soft serve ice cream.

Catherine Gilbert Murdock's Dairy Queen, is not about that kind of Dairy Queen. Nor is it about a beauty pageant, which you might guess from the cover. It's about D. J.'s 15th summer on her family's dairy farm in Wisconsin, and about cows, football, hard work and not much talk.

D. J.'s family reminds me of the legendary Burkstaller family who farmed next to the Wenzels. The Wenzels would compete with the Burkstallers to see who could get the hay in first. The Wenzels, legendary workers, tipped their hats to the Burkstallers as "real workers." Both families, like D. J.'s, worked from "Can do to can't do," from dawn to dusk.

Dairy Queen, by Catherine Gilbert Murdock (Houghton, 2006).
D.J. Schwenk, while not really happy, never complains or questions her life on the family's small dairy farm in Wisconsin. After her father injures himself, the 15-year-old girl must do the farm work almost single-handedly, including milking the cows. She never really noticed the similarities between her life and the lives of the cows. D.J. is a jock, so on top of all her farm chores, she takes on training Brian, the quarterback on a rival school's football team. The summer they spend together changes everything as D.J. discovers that she has lots to say about her life and what she wants out of it. Not to be missed. Stephanie A. Squicciarini, Fairport Public Library, NY in School Library Journal

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