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Dairy Queen Paperback – June 4, 2007

4.4 out of 5 stars 107 customer reviews
Book 1 of 4 in the Dairy Queen Series

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 7 Up–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. Natalie Moore perfectly narrates this first novel by Catherine Gilbert Murdock (Houghton, 2006). The characters come alive with her subtly intimate narration, voices changes, and use of accents. Listeners will relate to D.J.'s summer of self-discovery. Not to be missed.–Stephanie A. Squicciarini, Fairport Public Library, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Gr. 6-9. D. J.'s family members don't talk much, especially about the fact that 15-year-old D. J. does all the heavy work on their Wisconsin dairy farm since her father broke his hip and her two older brothers left for college. Nor do they talk about why D. J.'s mom, a teacher, is so busy filling in for the middle-school principal that she's never home. And they never, ever discuss the reason why her brothers haven't called home for more than six months. So when D. J. decides to try out for the Red Bend football team, even though she's been secretly training (and falling for) Brian Nelson, the cute quarterback from Hawley, Red Bend's rival, she becomes the talk of the town. Suddenly, her family has quite a bit to say. This humorous, romantic romp excels at revealing a situation seldom explored in YA novels, and it will quickly find its place alongside equally well-written stories set in rural areas, such as Weaver's Full Service (2005), Richard Peck's The Teacher's Funeral (2004), and Kimberly Fusco's Tending to Grace (2004). Jennifer Hubert
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Paperback: 274 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; 288 edition (June 4, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618863354
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618863358
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (107 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #126,373 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jennifer Robinson on June 3, 2007
Format: Paperback
D.J. Schwenk is the third child, and only daughter, of a small-town Wisconsin dairy farmer. The summer she turns sixteen finds her shouldering much of the load of the farm, because her two older brothers are off at football camp, and her father has an injured hip. She doesn't complain much, and struggles to meet the expectations of her demanding father, but inside, she's not happy. She's doing poorly in school, because of the farm work, and had to quit the basketball team, where she was a star. She has a best friend, Amber, but things aren't perfect between them either. And she worries about her younger brother, Curtis, who hardly ever talks.

A family friend, the football coach of the rival high school, sends one of his star players to help out on the Schwenk's farm. Brian Nelson has a great arm, but has been spoiled by his father, and doesn't have much discipline or team spirit. Before she quite knows what's happening, D.J. agrees to train Brian, to help him get ready for the fall season. They have to keep this a secret, because the towns are such strong rivals, and Brian ends up helping out on the farm quite a bit as camouflage for what they're really doing. After a prickly start, Brian and D.J. learn to talk to one another openly, and both grow as a result.

The story is told in D.J.'s first-person voice, which is necessary, because she's so quiet that we could never get to know her in third person. But inside her head, D.J. has a lot to say, and a thoughtful, sometimes sarcastic, voice. Here are a few examples:

"If there ever was a TV show called People Who Are Crazy and Need to Have Their Heads Examined, I'd be the very first guest.
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Format: Paperback
Refreshing and wholesome, Catherine Gilbert Murdock's DAIRY QUEEN stands like a tall glass of cold milk in a crowded YA soda cooler. Examples that set it apart: the setting is Wisconsin; the protagonist (D.J. Schwenk) is a 15-year-old tomboy who wants to play on the boys' football team; and D.J. falls in love with the quarterback of her hometown's archrival (of all people).

The first-person point of view provides an intimate, even folksy bit of country charm. Murdock keeps it clean, too, choosing to make this much more than a farm girl-meets-privileged boy tale by highlighting the strange family dynamics of the Schwenks. Like many of us, this family has its secrets. For example, sons Bill and Win, who have left the nest (OK, farm), are not talking to the dad; the youngest boy, Curtis, is not much talking to ANYone; and nobody seems to know how to talk the words "I'm sorry" to each other.

D.J.'s curmudgeonly dad can no longer run the dairy due to physical limitations and her mom is subbing as the principal at a local school. That leaves D.J. and Curtis to milk the cows and run the farm. When archrival Hawley's coach (a good friend of D.J.'s dad) sends quarterback Brian Nelson to the farm to work, D.J. falls udderly in love and takes on the improbable (and some readers might complain, unbelievable) role of Brian's personal trainer.

The Brian-D.J. relationship takes front seat, but D.J.'s place in her family is equally compelling. Then there's her best friend Amber. More secrets. (And you thought life was all cheeseheads and sausages in Wisconsin. Who knew?
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Format: Hardcover
Dairy Queen by Catherine Murdock tells the story of a girl named D.J. who has to pick up the slack on her family's farm when her father's hip injury prevent him from doing the bulk of the work. Her two older brothers, now away at college, were big hometown football stars. She helped them train for football while she trained for track and basketball.

During the summer, she has to help train Brian, the quarterback for the rival high school's football team, as a favor to the coach, a longtime friend of her father's. D.J. does so reluctantly at first, only to strike up a friendship with him -- and realize how much she herself enjoys the game. So much so that she decides to go out for the team when the school year starts back up again.

Though this book has been strongly received by sports fans, please note that there's more to this story than just football. It is also about family. It is about growing up on a farm, about growing up in a small town, and simply about growing up. Though D.J.'s family members don't talk or emote very much, they are everpresent: the farm and her father are always on her mind, and she misses her brothers in fits and starts. D.J. is also going through a rough patch with her long-time best friend, Amber, and almost doesn't believe it herself when the two girls argue and drift apart. She's got a lot on her plate, and if she doesn't balance it correctly, she may have to drop something and disappoint her family and herself.

Catherine Murdock's debut novel won over readers. It was followed up a sequel entitled The Off-Season. D.J.'s fans should also check out the corny-but-cute made-for-television movie Quarterback Princess starring Helen Hunt.
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