Marshmallow reviews Blubber by Judy Blume

Marshmallow reviews Blubber (1974) by Judy Blume, about school, bullying, and friendship.

Marshmallow likes reading books about school-age kids, even if there are no dragons or wizards, though she quite likes it when those kinds of things do appear. Below she reviews a classic, Blubber by Judy Blume, first published in 1974.

Marhsmallow reviews Blubber by Judy Blume.
Marhsmallow reviews Blubber by Judy Blume.

Marshmallow’s quick take: If you like books about things that happen at school, then this might be the book for you.

Marshmallow’s Summary (with spoilers): Fifth grader Jill Brenner is a part of a group of girls that bully a girl named Linda. Linda is bigger than the other kids in the class and so is bullied and mistreated. Since she gave a report on the whale and talked about a whale’s blubber, the bullies call her Blubber. Jill’s group, along with the rest of the class, tease, bully, and mistreat Linda.

The gang of bullies is made up of girls named Wendy, Caroline, and Jill. In this group they all have roles. Wendy is the leader, while Caroline is the muscle that holds the victims’ hands together while Jill does whatever Wendy says. Wendy is very manipulative. All the teachers like her and so if one of her victims tells on her, she just comes up with a lie, and then the teachers believe her, and so she does not get in to trouble. In this terrible way Wendy not only makes herself seem innocent but also makes the victim look like a liar.

On Halloween, Jill and her friend, Tracy Wu, try to get revenge on a man named Mr. Machinist (apparently he is a mean person) by putting rotten eggs in his mailbox. They put the rotten eggs in his mailbox. Then they meet Wendy and Caroline, who don’t believe that they put the eggs in his mailbox. When they show the eggs to Wendy and Caroline, Mr. Machinist catches them. They manage to get away, but Mr. Machinist takes a picture of Jill and Tracy before they can get away.

Marshmallow is pointing toward the letter Mr. Machinist sent to Jill's parents.
Marshmallow is pointing toward the letter Mr. Machinist sent to Jill’s parents.

Later Mr. Machinist sends a letter to Jill’s and Tracy’s families telling them that they put rotten eggs in his mailbox and that they need to pay. Mr. Machinist assigns them the job of raking up leaves in his backyard.

At school the girls decide that someone must have told Mr. Machinist the names of the girls in the picture. They think that it must have been Linda. Jill convinces her friends that they should hold a trial to determine if Linda is innocent or not. The trial brings an unexpected twist which changes the course of the story. 

Marshmallow’s Review: This book is written in the first person, from the perspective of Jill Brenner, who is part of the gang that bullies Linda, or as the group of bullies call her, Blubber. This fact (that the book is written in the first person) is not the only difference from most of the other books that I have reviewed though. (Ella Enchanted was also in first person.) The narrator, Jill, is just not a nice person. It is strange reading the story from her perspective. She does call Linda Blubber, which is not nice at all.

This book is about events that can occur in real life, and life doesn’t always end like “and they lived happily ever after“. This book does not end happily, but the main message (“treat others how you want to be treated“) does come through very clearly. It will make a good read for readers who appreciate books that don’t end “happily ever after” but instead leave you with things to think about.

There are some curse words in the book, which is one of the reasons why it might not be appropriate for all young readers.

Marshmallow’s rating: 90%

Marshmallow rates Blubber by Judy Blume 90%.
Marshmallow rates Blubber by Judy Blume 90%.

Caramel reviews Train Your Dragon To Accept NO by Steve Herman

Both of the younger book bunnies have been enjoying the How To Train Your Dragon series; Marshmallow even reviewed one of her favorites in the book series: How to Steal A Dragon’s Sword (Book 9) by Cressida Cowell. Below Caramel shares his thoughts about a book that initially got into our shopping cart because it had the “train your dragon” phrase in its title, but then we read it and enjoyed it (especially the illustrations) immensely: Train Your Dragon To Accept NO, by Steve Herman. As usual Sprinkles is taking notes and asking followup questions as needed.

Caramel reviews Train Your Dragon To Accept NO by Steve Herman.
Caramel reviews Train Your Dragon To Accept NO by Steve Herman.

Sprinkles: So Caramel, what do you want to tell us about this book?

Caramel: The book is about a boy named Drew and his pet dragon Diggory Doo.

S: So what do they do, Drew and Diggory Doo?

C: Drew teaches Diggory Doo how to stop his anger sometimes.

Caramel is looking at one of his favorite pages in Train Your Dragon to Accept NO by Steve Herman, where we learn about what happens when a dragon gets angry and cannot control his emotions.
Caramel is looking at one of his favorite pages in Train Your Dragon to Accept NO by Steve Herman, where we learn about what happens when a dragon gets angry and cannot control his emotions.

S: Hmm, that sounds promising. Tell me more.

C: Diggory Doo gets angry when you tell him no. Like once he wanted chocolate pie at dinner time. And Drew said no. So Diggory Doo got super duper angry.

S: Why did he get angry?

C: He really wanted chocolate pie. I would too. Wouldn’t you?

S: Hmm, I like chocolate a lot but I don’t love pie. So I’m not so sure. But apparently Diggory Doo likes chocolate pie. Why did Drew say no to him?

C: Hmm, let me see. Ok, here is what Drew says:

“If you’d taken just a minute
and not behaved your worst,
You’d know that you could have
your pie-just eat your dinner first!”

So Drew said no, because he first had to eat his dinner, so he had to eat the healthy stuff first.

S: This sounds familiar. Sometimes you want to eat things that I want you to postpone until after dinner, right?

C: Yes, sometimes I want to eat grapes and you tell me to eat my mac and cheese first.

S: And do you like that?

C: No, I don’t, not at all.

S: So do you scream at me?

C: Yes, sometimes.

S: And how does that work out for you?

C: Terrible! I don’t get any grapes then.

S: Hmm, so what is the point of the book then?

C: To teach little dragons, and little bunnies too, to accept no.

S: But it’s not that easy, is it?

C: Nope.

S: Does Drew have some suggestions for Diggory Doo when he hears the no and is about to get angry?

C: Yes. Here it is:

“Before you throw a tantrum,
take a breath and count to ten….
… Then slowly, slowly breathe it out,
then do that once again.”

S: That sounds like a good idea. So when you are about to get really angry because someone said no to you, you are supposed to stop and take a deep breath and count to ten. And then breathe it out, and do this whole breathing thing again. Do you think it might work?

C: Hmm, I don’t know. Next time I get mad, I’m going to try it.

S: That sounds like a plan. And a good place to wrap up our review.

C: Yes! Let me say my usual words: Stay tuned for more reviews from the Book Bunnies!

Caramel enjoyed reading Train Your Dragon To Accept NO by Steve Herman and thinks he might actually try the advice given there about calming down when someone says no.
Caramel enjoyed reading Train Your Dragon To Accept NO by Steve Herman and thinks he might actually try the advice given there about calming down when someone says no.

Marshmallow reviews Make Your Own Optical Illusions by Clive Gifford and Rob Ives

This week Marshmallow reviews a neat activity book written by Clive Gifford (text) and Rob Ives (paper engineering): Make Your Own Optical Illusions: 50 Hands-On Models and Experiment to Make and Do.

Marshmallow reviews Make Your Own Optical Illusions: 50 Hands-On Models and Experiment to Make and Do by Clive Gifford and Rob Ives.
Marshmallow reviews Make Your Own Optical Illusions: 50 Hands-On Models and Experiment to Make and Do by Clive Gifford and Rob Ives.

Marshmallow’s quick take: If you like books that are about optical illusions and how they work, then this might be the book for you.  

Marshmallow’s Overview: This book is about optical illusions and what makes them so convincing that they fool your brain and eyes in to thinking that something looks different than it actually is.

There is a large variety of optical illusions in the book. At the beginning we learn about literal illusions, cognitive illusions, and physiological illusions.

“Literal illusions simply use one type of object to trick your brain into thinking it is viewing a different object or scene. Cognitive illusions occur because of the way your brain judges and decides on the information sent to it by the eyes. Physiological illusions are designed to exploit the limits of your body and vision system.”

This page from Arizona State University, written by Abigail Howell, explains the difference between these three, in case you want to learn more. There are also neat examples of each in the book.

One of my favorite optical illusions in the book is a physiological illusion called Afterimages. This is where you stare at an image, for example a black light bulb, and then you look at a piece of paper that is white and then you see a glowing light bulb that looks like the light bulb you saw in the book but now the bulb you see is glowing! The reason that this happens is because, according to the book, your special light-detecting cells get tired after staring at an image for a long time, and they send a weak signal so that your brain reads it as the opposite color that the image actually is, thus making the light bulb look like it is glowing. 

Marshmallow is reading up on afterimages, a special kind of physiological illusion.
Marshmallow is reading up on afterimages, a special kind of physiological illusion.

The book has a total of 64 colorful pages of text and examples of illusions. Then there are twenty pages in the back that have cardboard cutouts. You can “press them out” and they come out easily, so you can build your own optical illusions, little hand-held thingies that you can use to fool or trick your brain and eyes into thinking in strange ways. Some of these hands-on projects are things that you spin and then you see a person running. Some of the papers that you can press out are one that are to help you see why one of the optical illusions work.

Marshmallow is proudly showing one of the optical illusion toys she made using the cutouts from Make Your Own Optical Illusions: 50 Hands-On Models and Experiment to Make and Do.
Marshmallow is proudly showing one of the optical illusion toys she made using the cutouts from Make Your Own Optical Illusions: 50 Hands-On Models and Experiment to Make and Do.

Marshmallow’s Review: This is a great book which contains many great optical illusions that will definitely fool you. Some are optical illusions that you can build, and some are ones that make your eyes see two images in one picture. The explanations given to explain what is happening in your brain when you get fooled are expertly written so that anyone can understand why you see something that is not on the page.

The authors, Rob Ives and Clive Gifford, have cooked up some great illusions that are really interesting. When these optical illusions are mixed together, they make a mind-boggling illusion book.

This is a hands-on book that includes projects that you can put together by yourself and then amaze your mind. I have only made some of the projects at this point and I am excited to make some more.

Overall Make Your Own Optical Illusions is a great book for all bunnies, especially those who like to play with their minds and hands (or paws?).      

Marshmallow’s rating: 95%

Marshmallow rates Make Your Own Optical Illusions: 50 Hands-On Models and Experiment to Make and Do by Clive Gifford and Rob Ives 95%.
Marshmallow rates Make Your Own Optical Illusions: 50 Hands-On Models and Experiment to Make and Do by Clive Gifford and Rob Ives 95%.

Caramel reviews Life on the Infinite Farm by Richard Evan Schwartz

Caramel has been reading a very colorful math book recently. Below he talks about what he thinks about this book, Life on the Infinite Farm by Richard Evan Schwartz. As usual Sprinkles is taking notes and asking followup questions.

Caramel reviews Life on the Infinite Farm by Richard Evan Schwartz.
Caramel reviews Life on the Infinite Farm by Richard Evan Schwartz.

Sprinkles: So Caramel, what is this book about?

Caramel: It’s about infinite stuff. There are infinite animals.

S: Do you mean to say there are infinitely many animals?

C: No. I mean there are animals with infinitely many things, like infinitely many feet. There is a cow with infinitely many feet, and she loves shoes! There’s also an infinite sheep, and an infinite donkey, and an infinite gopher. Oh and there’s an infinite shark named Nelson. Guess what he can do?

S: Hmm, I don’t know. What can Nelson do?

C: He has infinitely many teeth. And wait, I’ll find it.

“Nelson is a shark whose head extends in both directions. [His] head can swing open like a door in some places.”

Isn’t it kind of creepy Sprinkles?

Caramel is pointing toward Nelson's scary (and infinite) teeth.
Caramel is pointing toward Nelson’s scary (and infinite) teeth.

S: Hmm, yes, kind of. But it also looks like he’s smiling, friendly like. No?

C: I’m not so sure. Anyway in this farm chickens have teeth too!

S: Interesting! So what else happens in this farm?

C: There is a pond and a crater and these are infinite from the inside but look finite from the outside. They are “enclosed infinite spaces”. Whatever that means.

S: It is kind of confusing, isn’t it?

C: Very!

S: Yes infinity is a confusing concept. But it is also a fascinating one. There are so many strange things happening in this farm, right? Don’t you find them fascinating?

C: Yes. I keep finding new parts of the book to read.

S: Yes, this is not a short book. And it is not quite a book to be read in one sitting, is it?

C: No, not always.

S: How do you read it then?

C: I pick it up every now and then, and read a few pages. I find new and strange things every time. But once in a while I do read the whole book. And then I read it again some other time.

S: So you have read the whole book?

C: Yep.

S: So how does it end? What happens in the end?

C: In the end the book answers the question:

“Can we VISIT the infinite farm?”

S: So can we? Can we visit it?

C: Anybody can. But they have to read the book to visit it. The farm is the book.

S: And you might find more of it in other geometry books, perhaps?

C: Yes!

S: Would you like to live in the infinite farm?

C: Nope.

S: Why not?

C: Because I’m fine being finite.

S: But are you really finite Caramel? You have a big imagination, don’t you?

C: Yes, my imagination goes on forever.

S: That’s some kind of infinity too, no?

C: Yep I suppose so.

S: Do you think this is a good place to end our review?

C: Yes! Let me say my last words as usual: Stay tuned for more reviews from the Book Bunnies!

Caramel enjoys reading and rereading bits and pieces of Life on the Infinite Farm by Richard Evan Schwartz.
Caramel enjoys reading and rereading bits and pieces of Life on the Infinite Farm by Richard Evan Schwartz.