Marshmallow reviews The Lost Girl by Anne Ursu

Marshmallow recently got her paws on Anne Ursu’s recent book The Lost Girl, and finished it in two days. Below she shares some of her thoughts on the book.

Marshmallow reviews The Lost Girl by Anne Ursu.
Marshmallow reviews The Lost Girl by Anne Ursu.

Marshmallow’s quick take: If you like books that are about mystery and friendship, then this might be for you. 

Marshmallow’s Summary (with spoilers): Let me start with the publisher’s synopsis: 

“When you are an identical twin, your story always starts with someone else. For Iris, that means her story starts with Lark. Iris has always been the grounded, capable, and rational one; Lark is inventive, dreamy, and brilliant–and from their first moments in the world together, they’ve never left each other’s side. Everyone around them realized early on what the two sisters already knew: they had better outcomes when they were together.”

This already tells you that the book is about twins Iris and Lark. We know that they complement each other. A big problem that they face in the book is that the adults in their lives think it might be better for them to be separate for a while. This is a big deal and shakes both girls up a lot. This is one of the two main threads in the book.

The second thread is about a mysterious store. Before fifth grade starts, a small odd shop named Treasure Hunters opens in their town. Right outside the shop is a sign that says:

WE ARE HERE.”

Iris and Lark go in the store, and inside they meet a man that Iris thinks looks like a mole. Iris asks him about the sign. The man asks if they believe in keeping their promise. They say that they do. The man acts as if that answered their question.

Then later, they learn about their class assignments. For the first time they are going to be in different classes: Iris has Mrs. Shonubi and Lark has Mr. Hunt. The girls think that Mr. Hunt is a mean teacher, “an ogre”, they think. (Actually they think he is a real ogre, the mythical one.)

The girls soon realize that the sign next to the new shop no longer says, “WE ARE HERE.” The sign now says,

ARE YOU?

The girls are startled and think that it is a peculiar way of advertising. As their school starts the sign changes again and this time says

ALICE, WHERE ARE YOU?

Iris enters the store to ask who Alice is. The man seems reluctant but eventually says that Alice was his sister. Iris asks what happened to her and the man says that she just disappeared. He looks very sad.

Alice is not the only person or thing that disappears however. The famous Spoonbridge and Cherry in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden also disappears. So does a beluga named Peanut and the sulu bleeding heart specimen. Some items in Iris and Lark’s home also go missing: Lark’s bracelet, a doll named Baby Thing, Lark’s beanbag cat named Esmerelda, and a figure of an ogre. Where do all these go? Find out in The Lost Girl.  

Marshmallow is pointing at a picture from the book, but do not look too carefully if you don't want any further spoilers!
Marshmallow is pointing at a picture from the book, but do not look too carefully if you don’t want any further spoilers!

Marshmallow’s review: This is a very interesting book that has an intriguing plot. It is a little creepy, so it is for ages eight and up. There is a very interesting twist toward the end and the bad guy turns out to be someone that is unexpected.

This is a book that is about friendship. It is a mix between creepy, mystery, and friendship. Iris unwillingly goes to a camp for girls and finds that friendship between girls can be empowering, despite her original cynicism.

The plot is intricate, and everything fits together, just like in Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, though if you are not careful or if you read it too fast, in the end it might get a little bit confusing. But all in all it is well planned and it is evident that the author planned everything out and left clues for the reader.

Marshmallow’s rating: 95%

Marshmallow rates The Lost Girl by Anne Ursu 95%.
Marshmallow rates The Lost Girl by Anne Ursu 95%.

Caramel reviews Colette’s Lost Pet by Isabelle Arsenault

Caramel reviewed Isabelle Arsenault’s Albert’s Quiet Quest last week. This week he wanted to review the first book in the Mile End Kids series: Colette’s Lost Pet. As usual Sprinkles is taking notes and asking followup questions.

Caramel reviews Colette's Lost Pet by Isabelle Arsenault.
Caramel reviews Colette’s Lost Pet by Isabelle Arsenault.

Sprinkles: Let us start. What do you want to tell us about this book Caramel?

Caramel: If you like birds this might be a good book for you.

S: Now you’re channeling Marshmallow! What do you mean?

C: Colette’s supposedly lost pet is a giant parakeet.

S: Wait, wait! Who is Colette? And does she have a giant parakeet?

C: Nope she doesn’t. She’s lying. To get friends.

S: Hmm, so you think she is lying to get friends? But that doesn’t sound like such a great idea…

C: I know. But she says something and then it grows into this big story about a giant parakeet. An elaborate lie.

S: That’s a big word for a little bunny Caramel! Yes, the story does get more and more elaborate as Colette meets more and more kids on the Mile End neighborhood. Right?

C: Yup. I think she just wants a pet, just like Marshmallow. And in the beginning her mom says:

“No Colette! For the last time NO PET!”

S: So Colette goes out and tries to meet the kids in her new neighborhood. And do you think the kids believe she has a giant parakeet?

C: I don’t know. The story does get a little bit too elaborate in some parts.

Caramel is pointing at a particularly spectacular page where Colette is telling her elaborate story about her non-existent parakeet.
Caramel is pointing at a particularly spectacular page where Colette is telling her elaborate story about her non-existent parakeet.

S: So a bit too unbelievable, right?

C: Yup. At some point she says her parakeet can surf!

S: Well, she doesn’t quite say that, but the picture she draws leads the kids to decide the bird can surf, and she doesn’t deny it. Right?

C: Yes. But the kids are having a lot of fun. I think they actually think that she has a ginormous parakeet. Or at least they want to believe that.

S: Kind of like in Albert’s Quiet Quest where Albert wants to believe he is on a beach, right?

C: Yes. These kids have big imaginations.

S: Like you, Caramel! You too dream of big strange things.

C: Yeah. Like ginormous dragons, and other mythical creatures that I dream up.

S: Yes. So how else is this book connected to the one we read last week?

C: Well, this book is not as orange and blue as the other one, but it is yellow and gray. Though there are some tiny specs of blue here and there too.

S: Yes, the pages display only a few simple colors again, right? What else?

C: Colette appears in that other book too. And Albert shows up in this one!

S: Yes, these are both stories about the kids living in a neighborhood named Mile End. Wikipedia tells us that there is a Mile End neighborhood in London and another in Montreal. The one these books are about should be the one in Montreal, because according to the back cover notes about her, the author / illustrator Isabelle Arsenault lives there.

C: But it does not really matter. These are good books anyways, no matter where they’re supposed to be. And they are about kids everywhere, playing.

S: And being imaginative and just being kids themselves.

C: Yes. And this is a good place to wrap up our review.

S: I agree. And what do you want to say now?

C: Stay tuned for more book bunny adventures!

Caramel enjoyed reading Colette's Lost Pet by Isabelle Arsenault.
Caramel enjoyed reading Colette’s Lost Pet by Isabelle Arsenault.

Marshmallow reviews The Silver Chair (Book 4 of the Chronicles of Narnia) by C. S. Lewis

The book bunny family has spent several happy hours listening to C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia books in the publishing order these last few months. Marshmallow was ahead of us of course, and she had already read them all before we had even begun listening. Below she writes about the fourth book (sixth in the chronological order): The Silver Chair.

Marshmallow reviews The Silver Chair by C. S. Lewis.
Marshmallow reviews The Silver Chair by C. S. Lewis.

Marshmallow’s quick take: If you liked the first three Narnia books (or five, depending on which order you’re reading them in), then this might be the book for you.

Marshmallow’s Summary (with spoilers): While at school, Eustace Scrubb describes to Jill Pole the magical land of Narnia, which he had visited in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (book 3 in the publishing order). When bullies at school start to chase them, Eustace and Jill run into a shed to escape them. They open the shed door and inside the shed there is a beautiful land. They find themselves on the top of a very, very, VERY tall cliff. It is so high that the clouds are way below it. Eustace is scared of being so high up. (I would be scared too.) Jill, though, cannot see the bottom, so she scoffs at Eustace and says that he is a scaredy-rabbit. She then goes to the edge of the cliff to show off that she is not scared and looks down. Eustace tries to pull her away from the edge of the cliff, but she shoves him away and accidentally pushes him off the cliff. Immediately a lion comes and starts blowing at him so Eustace’s flight is smoother. The lion later tells Jill that he has blown him to Narnia.

When the lion leaves, Jill starts crying. Then she realizes that she is very thirsty. She finds a stream, but next to the stream there is a lion again. She is scared that the lion will eat her, but she is very thirsty. The lion then says that if she is thirsty then she should come and drink. She asks if he will promise not to eat her. The lion says that he makes no promises. Then she asks if he will move away while she is drinking from the stream. He says nothing but Jill thinks that he will not. In the end, Jill still decides that she has to drink water and she drinks from the spring. Then the lion explains their quest to Jill.

The lion explains that Prince Rilian of Narnia, the one and only son and heir to the throne of Caspian the Tenth or Caspian the Seafarer, disappeared while hunting for the giant snake that stung and killed his mother, the queen. Their mission is to find the prince and bring him to his father. Can they succeed?

Marshmallow is pointing at Pauline Baynes' illustration of Puddleglum the Marsh-wiggle, a character from The Silver Chair.
Marshmallow is pointing at Pauline Baynes’ illustration of Puddleglum the Marsh-wiggle, a character from The Silver Chair.

Marshmallow’s review: This is my favorite Narnia book. It is an old classic and its age shows a bit. For example, Jill cries a little bit too much; I just didn’t like how she was portrayed. But she at least does know a lot of stuff; I liked her more than Lucy and Susan, the other main female characters in the Narnia books. 

Otherwise, this is a good book overall. The story is well told and well written. The plot is very successful and intriguing. I think someone who has not read any of the other Narnia books might still enjoy reading this book, but of course the back stories of the main characters add to one’s understanding of the whole story.

Marshmallow’s rating: 90%.

Marshmallow rates C. S. Lewis' The Silver Chair 90%.
Marshmallow rates C. S. Lewis’ The Silver Chair 90%.

Caramel reviews Albert’s Quiet Quest by Isabelle Arsenault

Caramel has recently gotten his paws on a few books by Isabelle Arsenault. Below he reviews Albert’s Quiet Quest. As usual Sprinkles is taking notes and asking followup questions.

Caramel reviews Albert's Quiet Quest by Isabelle Arsenault.
Caramel reviews Albert’s Quiet Quest by Isabelle Arsenault.

Sprinkles: So Caramel, what is this book about?

Caramel: It’s about a boy named Albert who wants to read a book. And inside of his house is too noisy so he goes out to find a quiet place to read.

S: That sounds like our home sometimes, right? We do make a lot of noise.

C: Yeah. We are noisy bunnies.

S: So this Albert wants to find a quiet place to read. Have you ever felt like that yourself?

C: Yep. Sometimes when I am trying to calm myself down, I want it to be quiet.

S: But it is not always quiet, right? So you could totally appreciate how Albert must have felt.

C: Yep. So he goes out and looks for a place to read.

S: Does he find it?

C: Yes. He goes to an alley way and finds a painting of a beach.

S: Then he pulls a chair to sit across from the painting and dreams that he is on that beach, right?

C: Yep.

S: What happens then? Can he read in peace and quiet?

C: No not really. Many friends come by and ask him to help them. They ask him to play with them and so on.

Caramel is looking at the page when things get a little too noisy on Albert's "beach".
Caramel is looking at the page when things get a little too noisy on Albert’s “beach”.

S: So he gets kind of mad at them, right?

C: Yes. He screams: “That’s it! Quiet! For Pete’s sake, can’t someone read a book around here or what?!”

Caramel is looking at the page when Albert loses his cool.
Caramel is looking at the page when Albert loses his cool.

S: Hmm, that is not terribly nice, is it? He is understandably upset but he doesn’t need to scream at people.

C: Ah, Sprinkles. This sounds like somebody familiar. You too sometimes get pretty annoyed and scream!

S: Hmm. So I do. It is hard to keep one’s cool sometimes, right?

C: Yep. I get mad too sometimes.

S: Well, that’s kind of why we read all those books about training your angry dragon, right?

C: Yes.

S: What happens to Albert afterwards?

C: His friends get mad at him too. And then they all laugh together.

S: So this is a happy end, right?

C: Yes.

S: So did you like the book?

C: Yep. It’s a good book. It is kind of like a comic book, but the pictures are more like drawing than comics.

S: The color scheme is also very distinctive. All blues and oranges and grays and whites.

C: It’s mostly white. And orange is my favorite color. It’s awesome!

S: So you liked the pictures too, right?

C: Yes. I really liked the part where he is thinking of the beach.

S: Yes, he looks so calm and peaceful there.

C: Yes, he puts his hands behind his head and he is smiling. It’s like he is saying: “This is the life!”

S: Yes! You’re right.

C: And this is our life. And it is time to say: “Stay tuned for more book bunny adventures!”

Caramel really enjoyed reading Albert's Quiet Quest by Isabelle Arsenault.
Caramel really enjoyed reading Albert’s Quiet Quest by Isabelle Arsenault.