Marshmallow reviews The English GI by Jonathan Sandler and Brian Bicknell

Marshmallow, just like Caramel, enjoys and appreciates graphic novels of various types. As such she has reviewed several of these books for the book bunnies blog. Today she reviews another recent graphic novel, The English GI: World War II Graphic Memoir of A Yorkshire Schoolboy’s Adventures in the United States and Europe, written by Jonathan Sandler and illustrated by Brian Bicknell. Sprinkles was curious about the book too, and so she is taking notes while asking questions.

The book bunnies received this book as a review copy.

Marshmallow reviews The English GI: World War II Graphic Memoir of A Yorkshire Schoolboy's Adventures in the United States and Europe, written by Jonathan Sandler and illustrated by Brian Bicknell.
Marshmallow reviews The English GI: World War II Graphic Memoir of A Yorkshire Schoolboy’s Adventures in the United States and Europe, written by Jonathan Sandler and illustrated by Brian Bicknell.

Sprinkles: So Marshmallow, let us start with a quick summary. What is this book about?

Marshmallow: This book is about Bernard Sandler, a seventeen-year-old boy from Yorkshire, England, who goes on a school trip to the US. Then the second world war starts and he cannot go back home. He has to find his own way through life in a new country. And he eventually joins the US army and fights in the war too.

S: That sounds like a really rough path for a young person.

M: I think so too. But he does survive and he lives a good life. And the author is his grandson who wanted to tell his story.

S: That is so neat! A lot of families have stories to tell, but not everyone ends up writing them up for others to learn about. So the book is not fiction, then?

M: No. In fact there is a long epilogue at the end of the book, which takes almost a fourth of it actually, and it gives a lot of details about Bernard’s life and his family.

S: I did see that. It looked really well documented. And in some ways it reminded me of two books you reviewed before.

M: Which ones?

S: Nothing But The Truth by Avi and They Called Us Enemy by George Takei.

M: I see how the second one is similar. That too was about real life, written by George Takei, whose childhood was during the second world war, and he went through a lot of difficult times. How do you connect this book to Avi’s?

S: That book also had a lot of documentation, no? Though of course that was fiction, and this is a real story.

M: Hmm, I see. Yes, you are right. This is not quite a typical graphic novel; first off it is true, and then it has a lot of historical documentation that connects it to history.

Marshmallow is reading The English GI: World War II Graphic Memoir of A Yorkshire Schoolboy's Adventures in the United States and Europe, written by Jonathan Sandler and illustrated by Brian Bicknell.
Marshmallow is reading The English GI: World War II Graphic Memoir of A Yorkshire Schoolboy’s Adventures in the United States and Europe, written by Jonathan Sandler and illustrated by Brian Bicknell.

S: So what else would you like to tell us about the book?

M: I really liked the illustrations.

S: They are black and white, no?

M: Well, they are more or less grayscale, but you can see a lot of details, and they are almost like photos, and since it is a history being told, I think it fits really well.

S: That totally makes sense.

M: Also I’d like to say that this would be appropriate for readers of all ages.

S: Especially if someone is a history buff, no? I think a lot of people like to read and learn about the second world war. This could be really perfect for such a reader.

M: Yes, but even if you are not particularly interested in that war, this is a good book. It has a really interesting story. And there is not much that would be difficult for young bunnies, except of course it is about war, which is a terrible thing, and Bernard has to separate from his original family and his original country, so those could be too sad for really young bunnies.

S: I agree with you Marshmallow. Some young bunnies might be really sad, so for them, this might not be a good choice. But if a bunny is willing to read a book about the war, and if they are keen on graphic novels, this would be a neat book for them.

M: Yes.

S: So did you learn some things from this book?

M: Yes. It was like looking through a window to see what life was like for a young person during the war. So I found it very interesting that way.

S: Did you know what a G.I. is?

M: I knew of the G.I. Joe action figures, but I did not know exactly what the initials meant, so I had to look it up! Wikipedia says: “G.I. are initials used to describe the soldiers of the United States Army and airmen of the United States Air Force and general items of their equipment. The term G.I. has been used as an initialism of “Government Issue”, “General Issue”, or “Ground Infantry”, but it originally referred to “galvanized iron”, as used by the logistics services of the United States Armed Forces.”

S: The evolution is interesting, isn’t it?

M: Yes.

S: So maybe it is about time to wrap up this review. How would you rate the book overall Marshmallow?

M: I’d rate it 97%. I like how it is a real story and I like the illustrations.

S: That’s great Marshmallow. So what do you want to tell our readers then?

M: Stay tuned for more amazing book reviews from the book bunnies!

Marshmallow rates The English GI: World War II Graphic Memoir of A Yorkshire Schoolboy's Adventures in the United States and Europe, written by Jonathan Sandler and illustrated by Brian Bicknell 97%.
Marshmallow rates The English GI: World War II Graphic Memoir of A Yorkshire Schoolboy’s Adventures in the United States and Europe, written by Jonathan Sandler and illustrated by Brian Bicknell 97%.

Caramel reviews Hot Lava! Fiery Facts About Volcanoes by Alice Fewery

A few weeks ago, Caramel visited the book fair held in his school campus and picked a handful of nonfiction books for himself. Last week he reviewed one of them: Sea Bunnies by Kelly Hargrave. Today he talks about a second book: Hot Lava! Fiery Facts About Volcanoes, written by Alice Fewery and published in 2021. As usual, Sprinkles is asking questions and taking notes.

Caramel reviews Hot Lava! Fiery Facts About Volcanoes by Alice Fewery.
Caramel reviews Hot Lava! Fiery Facts About Volcanoes by Alice Fewery.

Sprinkles: So Caramel, this was the second book you got from the school book fair. Tell us about it. Why did you want to read it?

Caramel: Because I wanted to know more about volcanoes! And of course, the slime!! It comes with slime!

S: I can see that the book combined two things you like: slime and facts!

C: Exactly. I like books full of facts, and this book is full of facts. And I like playing with slime, and this book came with metallic slime.

S: What’s metallic slime?

C: It’s just regular slime but its color is metallic.

S: Hmm, I see. Did you know that you could make magnetic slime?

C: Not until you showed me that page you found. Can we link to it so we can make some of our own some time? We have to!

S: Okay, maybe we can. Here is the link: How to make magnetic slime.

C: Cool.

S: Okay, can we get back to the book now?

C: No. Of course, I’m kidding! Yes let us talk about the book.

S: You got me there. Okay, now tell me about the book.

C: It is forty pages full of “fiery” facts about volcanoes. For example, did you k know that when a volcano in the Krakatoa island blew up in 1883, it changed the climate of the whole world? The temperatures fell by 0.72 degrees Fahrenheit all around!

S: No, I had heard of the Krakatoa explosion, but I did not know that its climate effects were so significant. So the book talks about famous volcanic explosions, right?

C: Yes. It has two-page spreads on three other “famous eruptions”: Mount Vesuvius in Pompeii, Italy, which blew up in 79 CE, Mount St. Helens in Washington, USA, which blew up in 1980, and Mount Pelée in Martinique, which blew up in 1902.

S: Did you know about these disasters before, Caramel?

C: I had heard about Pompeii and Mt Vesuvius. And I am not sure but I think I might have heard about that one person who survived because he was in a windowless jail cell during the explosion of Mount Pelée. But I did not know about the others.

S: So you learned some things from this book.

C: Yes of course. I also learned a lot about the mechanism of volcanoes and a lot of new words about them. For example, apparently magma is called “magma” under the crust, but when it gets out we call it “lava”. So I knew both were molten rock, but I did not know they were exactly the same thing, just one is inside and one is outside.

Caramel is reading Hot Lava! Fiery Facts About Volcanoes by Alice Fewery, accompanied by the metallic slime that came along with the book.
Caramel is reading Hot Lava! Fiery Facts About Volcanoes by Alice Fewery, accompanied by the metallic slime that came along with the book.

S: So the book was “factful”, right?

C: Yes, that would definitely be one of my three words.

S: What other words would you use?

C: Colorful, and maybe slimy. But not in a bad way; I call the book slimy because it comes with slime. Really nice metallic orange color.

S: I understand. So tell me what other facts there are in the book before we wrap up this review and you go back to playing with that cool slime.

C: Okay. Maybe I can read to you some of the section titles.

S: Sure.

C: I’ll skip the famous eruptions because I already listed them. Then there are sections titled “What is a volcano?”, “Volcano varieties”, “Why do volcanoes erupt?”, “Life cycle of a volcano”, “Liquid rock”, “Hot water”, “Ash and dust”, “Gas and lightning”, “Weather warning”, “Supervolcanoes”, “Volcanoes in space”, “Living on a volcano”, “Visit a volcano”, “Make your own volcano”. And there is the glossary and an index.

S: Some of those sound really interesting! I’d love to know more about volcanoes in space and making your own volcano.

C: We can try making one at home some day, maybe?

S: Maybe.

C: And space volcanoes are really neat too. You should read this book Sprinkles.

S: Maybe I will.

C: But I’m not sharing my slime!

S: Hmm, we’ll see about that. Okay, let us wrap this up. What do you want to tell our readers?

C: Stay tuned for more book bunny reviews!

Caramel enjoyed reading Hot Lava! Fiery Facts About Volcanoes by Alice Fewery, and playing with the metallic slime that came along with the book, though it did get into his fur a little.
Caramel enjoyed reading Hot Lava! Fiery Facts About Volcanoes by Alice Fewery, and playing with the metallic slime that came along with the book, though it did get into his fur a little.

Marshmallow reviews Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs 

A while ago, Marshmallow and Caramel watched the 2016 movie Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and were quite disturbed by it. Only recently did Marshmallow come across the book which the film was based on: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, written by Ransom Riggs and published in 2011. To her surprise, she found it to be a quite satisfying read and decided to review it for the blog.

Marshmallow reviews Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.
Marshmallow reviews Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like books about magic and friendship, then this might be the book for you.  

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): As Jacob was growing up, his grandfather Abraham always told him the most extraordinary stories about a house for peculiar children who each had special powers. This home was special, run by a bird who smoked a pipe. The children in the home were peculiar; some could fly, some were extremely strong, and the rest had other unnatural skills. But there were monsters after the children, and the monsters wanted to eat them. As Jacob grew older, he began to doubt the truth in these stories. That is, until he saw the monsters for himself.

Early in the book, Abraham is killed by the monsters that he used to talk about and suddenly everything changes. Abraham’s last words are “Find the bird. In the loop.” In an effort to make sense of these events and his grandfather’s final words, Jacob visits the children’s home. Unfortunately, the home he finds is not the bright paradise his grandfather described; rather it is a destroyed shell of a house because it was bombed on September 3, 1940. Jacob’s grandfather had uttered that exact date with his last breath. Upon further investigation and some excitement, Jacob is brought as a prisoner to the children’s home by some of the children. There he meets the “bird”, Miss Peregrine, who takes care of the peculiar children. Jacob’s grandfather’s stories were all true. And unfortunately, that means the monsters are real too. 

Marshmallow is reading Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.
Marshmallow is reading Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.

Marshmallow’s Review: As mentioned above in the preamble, I had watched the 2016 movie Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children before I read this book, so I had a sense of what to expect. Here is the trailer if you have not seen the movie yet (certain aspects in the movie differed from the original story and book):

I had enjoyed the movie but was a bit disturbed by it. In the end I think that the book is as good as the movie, if not better.

I really enjoyed reading Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children because it has a fascinating premise, and the plot is quite intriguing and original. There is humor and action, all intertwined with a lot of strange, peculiar things going on.

I would say that Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is for readers older than 12 or 13. There are a lot of (unnecessary) bad words, and some of the events may be a little scary for younger bunnies. (That may have been the reason why Caramel and I were so unsettled when we watched the movie version.) There was some amount of kissing too, which may be uninteresting for some people.

The book has a lot of photographs (in black and white) that are all mentioned and talked about in the book. And the photos are all displayed. I found it amazing that the photos fit so perfectly with the story. As far as I understand, the author wrote the story based off these photos he found. I found the photos added nuance as they’re not something you see in a novel everyday. However, a couple of the photos (specifically pg 263) might be disturbing for younger bunnies, yet another reason why this book may be better suited for 13 and above.

All in all, I found Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children a fascinating book to read, and I look forward to reading the next book. 

Marshmallow’s Rating: 95%

Marshmallow rates Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs 95%.
Marshmallow rates Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs 95%.

Caramel reviews Sea Bunnies by Kelly Hargrave

Caramel loves books with facts. He also loves soft squishy toys. So he could not help but get exceptionally excited when he visited the book fair in his school and he saw Sea Bunnies, a 2021 book by Kelly Hargrave. The book was colorful and full of interesting facts, and on top of all that goodness, it came with a new squishy friend! So of course today Caramel is talking about Sea Bunnies. As usual, Sprinkles is taking notes and asking questions.

Caramel reviews Sea Bunnies by Kelly Hargrave.
Caramel reviews Sea Bunnies by Kelly Hargrave.

Sprinkles: So Caramel, you saw this book and had to read it!

Caramel: Yes! Can you imagine me passing by a book about our distant relatives? They are called sea bunnies, so they must be related to us somehow, right?

S: Hmm, i’m not so sure. Guinea pigs are not really related to pigs. So what are these sea bunnies? Are they mammals like regular bunnies are?

C: Well, not really. They are sea slugs.

S: Hmm, so they are not really bunnies after all.

C: No, but they have antennas that look like bunny ears, so people call them sea bunnies. And they are cute! Though maybe not as cute as most bunnies. Still they can be our friends.

S: Especially your new squishy friend, right?

C: Yes! My squishy friend is very cute. He might actually be cuter than the real sea bunnies, but that’s alright I think.

Caramel and his new squishy friend are reading Sea Bunnies by Kelly Hargrave.
Caramel and his new squishy friend are reading Sea Bunnies by Kelly Hargrave.

S: So let us get back to the book. Tell us a bit about it please.

C: The book has fifty pages. On each two-page spread, you learn about a new type of sea slug or sea bunny. There are about thirty different types they talk about. For example, there is one they call a Ninja Sea Slug. Then there is a sea angel. There is a leaf sheep. And so on.

S: So they all have interesting names!

C: Yes, in the beginning the author says “each sea slug featured in this book has been given an awesome nickname.” And they are awesome nicknames!

S: I agree. They are all pretty imaginative and evocative nanes.

C: Those would be some words I could use to describe the book!

S: I guess so. But I’d also assume you would want to say “colorful” and “fact-full”, right?

C: Yes! The book is very colorful and full of facts!

S: Any facts that were new for you?

C: Of course! I didn’t even know that there was an animal called a sea bunny, to start with. So yes.

S: True, the name was new, but what else did you learn about these creatures?

C: They have tentacles, and some have wing-like extensions. Some glow in the dark. Some are pink and have toxins. They can be all sorts of colors. There are over two thousand different types of sea slugs!

S: Those are all very interesting facts Caramel! I’m glad you read this book.

C: Me, too! And I’m glad I have a new squishy friend!

S: I know. Okay, this is probably a good time to wrap up the review so you can continue to play with him. What would you like to tell our readers?

C: Stay tuned for more book bunny adventures!

Caramel and his new squishy friend strongly recommend reading Sea Bunnies by Kelly Hargrave and learning more about these amazing creatures. And of course who doesn't want another squishy friend?
Caramel and his new squishy friend strongly recommend reading Sea Bunnies by Kelly Hargrave and learning more about these amazing creatures. And of course who doesn’t want another squishy friend?