Caramel reviews If You Give … books by Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond

A couple weeks ago Caramel went over his How Do Dinosaurs … books and reviewed the whole series for the book bunnies blog. Today he wanted to do something similar and chose another old favorite series of his: the If You Give … series, written by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond. As usual, Sprinkles is taking notes and asking followup questions.

Caramel reviews If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (1985), If You Give a Moose a Muffin (1991), If You Give a Pig a Pancake (1998), If You Take a Mouse to the Movies (2000), If You Take a Mouse to School (2002), If You Give a Pig a Party (2004), If You Give a Cat a Cupcake (2008), If You Give a Dog a Donut (2011), and If You Give a Mouse a Brownie (2016), all written by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond.
Caramel reviews If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (1985), If You Give a Moose a Muffin (1991), If You Give a Pig a Pancake (1998), If You Take a Mouse to the Movies (2000), If You Take a Mouse to School (2002), If You Give a Pig a Party (2004), If You Give a Cat a Cupcake (2008), If You Give a Dog a Donut (2011), and If You Give a Mouse a Brownie (2016), all written by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond.

Sprinkles: So Caramel you wanted to talk about some of your old favorites again.

Caramel: Yup.

S: So how would you like to start this review?

C: From the beginning. With the first book. This is called If You Give A Mouse A Cookie. It’s about a mouse, a cookie, and a boy who is really nice and gives the mouse a cookie. Then the mouse asks for a glass of milk, then a straw, then a napkin, then a look in the mirror to see if he has a milk mustache…

S: Okay, I get it. So the boy gives the mouse something, and then that leads to another wish, and then pretty soon …

C: It goes all the way from a cookie to a lot of mess and lots of action, and in the end the mouse will get thirsty and want milk, and then another cookie. And you are back to the beginning of the story.

S: Ooh, that is neat. Kind of a circular story, but also seeing all sorts of consequences of just one little action.

C: Yep.

Caramel is reading  If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (1985), written by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond.
Caramel is reading If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (1985), written by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond.

S: So tell me more. What do you like about this book?

C: The illustrations are great! The mouse is sitting beside the milk glass in one picture, and he is so full, with a ginormous tummy. The cookie and the milk must be bigger than him all together, so no wonder he is exhausted.

S: That is funny!

C: The whole story is hilarious. I love it! And it all starts with a little boy giving a little mouse a little cookie.

S: That is really cool. Okay, so there are several other books in this series. You have read nine of them, right?

C: Yes. The second book I read is called If You Give A Moose A Muffin, and the third is If You Give A Pig A Pancake. And those books are about what the titles say. In the one about the moose, a boy gives the moose a muffin, and then a lot of things happen, including a puppet show, and blackberry jam, and so on. The one about the pig involves a girl giving a pancake to a pig, and then pancakes, a dancing pig, building a tree house, putting up wallpaper on that tree house, and many other things.

S: So a lot happens in each of the stories, when the child in question gives the animal in question something they want?

C: Yes. And in the end somehow we always come back to the beginning. So the moose ends up wanting a muffin again and the pig wants a pancake once more.

S: That is really cool. The author must be thinking very carefully and creatively about how to build that chain of events in a way that brings us all back to the beginning somehow.

C: Yes. No matter what, the books always end at the place they started. That is neat!

S: I agree.

Caramel is looking at If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (1985), If You Give a Moose a Muffin (1991), and If You Give a Pig a Pancake (1998), all written by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond.
Caramel is looking at If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (1985), If You Give a Moose a Muffin (1991), and If You Give a Pig a Pancake (1998), all written by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond.

S: Tell me about some of the other books.

C: The next thee books are If You Take a Mouse to the Movies, If You Take a Mouse to School, and If You Give a Pig a Party. So you can already tell that one of them is about a boy taking a mouse to the movies, and it is probably the same boy from the first book, and the same mouse. And in the next book the same boy takes the same mouse to school. And a lot of fun and messy things happen at school because of that. The pig and the girl in the last book, If You Give a Pig a Party, are also the same pig and the girl from If You Give A Pig A Pancake. I like that we see the same characters.

S: Well, you couldn’t really tell they are the same if you did not have the illustrations.

C: Yes, but the pictures are the same. And so I know they are the same people and same animals. And so the pictures tell a lot of the story. I like that too.

Caramel poses in front of If You Take a Mouse to the Movies (2000), If You Take a Mouse to School (2002), and If You Give a Pig a Party (2004), all written by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond.

S: But then the seventh and the eighth books introduce new animals, right?

C: Right. The seventh book is If You Give A Cat A Cupcake, and it has a cat in it. There is a girl who gives the cat a cupcake and then the cat takes off and takes a karate class, and goes on a merry-go-round and visits a science museum, and so on.

S: You like doing those things!

C: Yes. I love going to the science museum, but we have not done it for a while. And we have not been to the beach for a while either.

S: That is true. So these animals are all doing all sorts of active and fun things, right?

C: Yes, in the next book, called If You Give A Dog A Donut, there is a dog who wants a donut, and then he gets one from a boy, who is not the boy from any of the other books I think. Then the dog goes picking apples, playing baseball, doing a happy dance, and having a water fight.

S: All fun!

C: Yep. And finally the last book is the mouse again, and he wants a brownie.

S: And let me guess, it is titled If You Give A Mouse A Brownie.

C: Yep. And it starts and ends with the brownie. And it is again hilarious.

Caramel is showing the readers If You Give a Cat a Cupcake (2008), If You Give a Dog a Donut (2011), and If You Give a Mouse a Brownie (2016), all written by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond.
Caramel is showing the readers If You Give a Cat a Cupcake (2008), If You Give a Dog a Donut (2011), and If You Give a Mouse a Brownie (2016), all written by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond.

S: So I think I know one of your three words to describe this series would be hilarious. What would be your remaining two words?

C: Circular, because they all end where they start, and great illustrations, because I love the pictures.

S: That sounds good. So apparently there are a few other books in this series, but we never read those. They do not start with “If You Give …” or “If You Take …” but the same mouse has adventures in each.

C: Oh well. At least we read all the “If You Give …” and “If You Take …” ones.

S: That’s true. And I think nine books are enough for this one review.

C: I agree.

S: So what do you want to tell our readers?

C: Stay tuned for more book bunny reviews!

Caramel has loved reading If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (1985), If You Give a Moose a Muffin (1991), If You Give a Pig a Pancake (1998), If You Take a Mouse to the Movies (2000), If You Take a Mouse to School (2002), If You Give a Pig a Party (2004), If You Give a Cat a Cupcake (2008), If You Give a Dog a Donut (2011), and If You Give a Mouse a Brownie (2016), all written by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond, through the years, and recommends them to all little bunnies and their grownups who love reading with them.
Caramel has loved reading If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (1985), If You Give a Moose a Muffin (1991), If You Give a Pig a Pancake (1998), If You Take a Mouse to the Movies (2000), If You Take a Mouse to School (2002), If You Give a Pig a Party (2004), If You Give a Cat a Cupcake (2008), If You Give a Dog a Donut (2011), and If You Give a Mouse a Brownie (2016), all written by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond, through the years, and recommends them to all little bunnies and their grownups who love reading with them.

Marshmallow reviews Drama by Raina Telgemeier

Both Marshmallow and Caramel are keen readers of graphic novels and they have both reviewed a handful of them for this blog. In particular Marshmallow has reviewed two books by Raina Telgemeier in 2020; you can check out her reviews of Ghost (2016) and the graphic novel version of Ann N. Martin’s Kristy’s Great Idea (The Baby-Sitters Club Graphic Novels #1) (2006). Today she decided to talk about another book by Telgemeier, the 2012 book Drama.

Marshmallow reviews Drama by Raina Telgemeier.
Marshmallow reviews Drama by Raina Telgemeier.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like books about school, or you like to think about theatre and plays and performances in school, or if you like graphic novels and have especially enjoyed books by Raina Telgemeier, like Ghosts, for example, then this might be the book for you. 

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): Seventh grader Callie is on the stage crew as set designer for this year’s production of Moon over Mississippi, with her best friend, Liz, who is in charge of the costumes. However, she is having issues with her friendships. Also, the school has a limited budget for the performance, so she is restricted in terms of the set pieces she can make. She wants to have a cannon for example, but their budget will allow for only two sets. 

Callie loves theater and she would try out, but she is unable to sing. However, she makes friends with a pair of twins, Jesse and Justin, one of whom, Justin, is trying out for the leading man. The other twin, Jesse, can sing but wants to give his brother a chance to shine. Unfortunately, when the results come out, Justin does not get the leading role. He gets one of the other roles, Colonel Scrimshaw; Justin is very disappointed. Also, Bonnie, a girl Callie does not like, gets the leading woman role. This creates some issues in terms of the cast and the stage crew. 

Also the cannon Callie wanted so much is not working out, as the confetti poppers they are using fails the first time. Callie has to deal with complicated sets, and complications in her social life. Can Callie get Moon over Mississippi up and running?

Marshmallow is reading Drama by Raina Telgemeier.
Marshmallow is reading Drama by Raina Telgemeier.

Marshmallow’s Review: This book is written in a different way than is usual. The characters are actually in a play, themselves. The book is written as if we are seeing the scenes of the play; only in between them, we see the author and the audience. I thought it was interesting that the characters were creating a play, as they performed in one themselves, and it worked really well for me.

According to the Wikipedia article for it, Drama was the seventh most banned book of the 2010-2019 decade in the United States. This seems to be due to the fact that two of Callie’s good friends are gay and they are portrayed in a positive way, which some parents believe children should not be exposed to. However I thought the gay characters were portrayed just as all the others were, and things flowed naturally and realistically. Just like To Night Owl From Dogfish, which also had some gay characters without making the whole story about gender identity or sexual orientation (which might make things more contentious for some), Drama tells a good, compelling story about a bunch of middle schoolers, who are diverse in many ways, and is worth the read.

As the story is about middle school, Drama might be more appropriate for bunnies older than 9. Also there is some falling in love and having crushes stuff going on, and younger bunnies will most likely not find that too exciting.

Marshmallow’s Rating: 95%.

Marshmallow rates Drama by Raina Telgemeier 95%.
Marshmallow rates Drama by Raina Telgemeier 95%.

Caramel reviews N.E.R.D.S.: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society, by Michael Buckley

Today Caramel wanted to review a book he discovered in his classroom library: N.E.R.D.S.: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society, written by Michael Buckley. As usual Sprinkles is taking notes and asking questions.

Caramel reviews N.E.R.D.S.: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society, by Michael Buckley.
Caramel reviews N.E.R.D.S.: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society, by Michael Buckley.

Sprinkles: So Caramel, tell me a bit about this book.

Caramel:The book is about a secret organization called N.E.R.D.S. It is an acronym, for National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society.

S: That’s a funny way to open up the word “nerds”. So this secret society, is it made up of children?

C: Yes, and they are all nerds.

S: What does that mean?

C: I think it means someone who is super-smart.

S: And sometimes it comes with connotations of socially awkward and inept, because people occasionally use the term in a derogatory way.

C: But the nerds in this book are pretty cool. They have super cool gadgets.

S: Ooh, that sounds interesting. Tell me more.

C: For example there is a character called Jackson Jones, who is wearing braces, but the braces can change into weapons and anything else he needs at the time. Then there is Duncan Dewey who can shoot glue out of his hands. He can also stick to walls and so can climb walls. He can also climb on the ceiling.

S: Those are some super cool tools and gadgets really. The characters seem to be nerdy but also kind of like superheroes, right?

C: Yes. And they solve crimes together.

S: But they are school children, aren’t they? How does this crime-fighting fit into their school lives?

C: There is a fire alarm that they set off and they sneak away without anyone noticing they are gone.

S: Hmm, not a very respectable thing to do, setting off an alarm like that, but maybe they are doing very important work. So tell me, what kinds of crimes do they fight?

C: They are fighting evil people, like people who kidnap scientists and so on. So in this book a few scientists have been kidnapped, and they try to get the scientists back.

S: Oooh, that sounds serious!

C: Yes it is.

Caramel is reading N.E.R.D.S.: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society, by Michael Buckley.
Caramel is reading N.E.R.D.S.: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society, by Michael Buckley.

S: So I saw you read this book really fast. There are lots of pictures in it, and I could see that the book could be appealing to you from how it started. Can you read the dedication page to our readers?

C: Okay, here it is:

For dorks, dweebs, geeks, spazzes, waste cases, and nerds everywhere. Some day you too will change the world.

S: So this book is written to inspire kids who see themselves as outcasts in a way.

C: I guess it could be. But it is also really really funny. And the mystery is very interesting.

S: I can tell you really enjoyed the book. Do you think you will read the next one in the series? Apparently there are a total of five books.

C: Yes. I want to read them all!

S: That’s very good. So tell me your three words to describe the book then, and we can wrap up this review.

C: Fun, funny, and adventurous.

S: That sounds neat! And what else do you want to tell our readers?

C: Stay tuned for more book bunny reviews!

Caramel enjoyed reading N.E.R.D.S.: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society, by Michael Buckley, and is looking forward to reading the next book in the series.
Caramel enjoyed reading N.E.R.D.S.: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society, by Michael Buckley, and is looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

Marshmallow reviews Save Me A Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan

Today Marshmallow chose to review Save Me A Seat, a 2016 novel by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan.

Marshmallow reviews Save Me A Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan.
Marshmallow reviews Save Me A Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan.

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

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): Joey’s friends move away at the same time that a new kid moves into town. The new kid Ravi has just moved to America from India. Joey hopes that the school bully Dillon (who calls Joey Puddy Tat and whom Joey suspects to be a kleptomaniac) will pick on the new kid. However, Dillon is also of Indian heritage, so Ravi wants to be friends with him.

Ravi does not know that Dillon is a bully. After Ravi answers a math problem on the board, Dillon trips Ravi, but pegs it on Joey. Also, when Ravi’s school materials fall to the ground, Joey and Ravi hit their heads when trying to pick them up. Joey considers befriending Ravi, but Ravi thinks that Joey has it in for him, and believes that Dillon is his friend. 

Ravi has an accent so his teacher, Mrs. Beam, thinks that he should go visit a special education teacher named Miss Frost. Joey has also been seeing Miss Frost, as he has Auditory Processing Disorder (APD). Ravi is angry that he is being sent to Miss Frost. He was top of his class in his previous school, and he has an IQ of 135, according to him. He believes that he is “not like” Joey. 

However, Ravi soon learns that Dillon is a bully when Dillon tricks him into trying meat, even though Ravi is a vegetarian. Dillon starts calling Ravi “Curryhead”. When this starts happening, Ravi realizes that at his school in India, he was like Dillon. He had bullied a student who had issues with reading. Ravi realizes that he is getting a taste of his own medicine.

Marshmallow is reading Save Me A Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan.
Marshmallow is reading Save Me A Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan.

Marshmallow’s Review: I think that an interesting feature of Save Me A Seat is that it is written in the perspective of two people. The chapters alternate between Ravi’s perspective and Joey’s. I believe that Sarah Weeks wrote the chapters for Joey, and Gita Varadarajan wrote the chapters for Ravi. This is similar to another book that I read, To Night Owl From Dogfish, where one author wrote the emails for one character, and the other author wrote the emails for the other. 

I think that the author for Ravi made an interesting choice. In Ravi’s chapter, the author tends to write lists like: 

“I want to say:
1. My English is fine.
2. I don’t need Miss Frost.
3. I was top of my class at Vidya Mandir.
But here is what I do instead:
1. Push up my glasses.
2. Rub my nose.
3. Sit down and fold my hands.”

(Vidya Mandir was his school in India.) It is interesting to see the events from the perspectives of both characters. For example, when Dillon trips Ravi, both Joey and Ravi retell the event differently.

Another interesting feature of the book is that all events take place in the course of one school week. The authors split the book into sections, one for every school day in the first week of school. The section titles tell the reader the day of the week and the school lunch that day (like Wednesday, Chili and Friday, Pizza). It gets you in the mood for school!

Marshmallow’s Rating: 95%.

Marshmallow rates Save Me A Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan 95%.
Marshmallow rates Save Me A Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan 95%.