Caramel reviews Three Tales of My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett

Today Caramel reviews Three Tales of My Father’s Dragon, that brings together the 1948 classic My Father’s Dragon, and its two sequels, Elmer and the Dragon (1950) and The Dragons of Blueland (1951), all written by Ruth Stiles Gannett and illustrated by Ruth Chrisman Gannett. As usual, Sprinkles is taking notes and asking questions.

Caramel reviews Three Tales of My Father's Dragon, written by Ruth Stiles Gannett and illustrated by Ruth Chrisman Gannett.
Caramel reviews Three Tales of My Father’s Dragon, written by Ruth Stiles Gannett and illustrated by Ruth Chrisman Gannett.

Sprinkles: So Caramel, tell me about this book.

Caramel: This book is nice if you like happy books and dragons.

S: Oh, so it is a happy book about dragons?

C: Yes and no. It’s also about Elmer Elevator, who meets a cat, who tells him about a dragon. Then Elmer goes and finds this dragon.

S: So is Elmer the father in the title?

C: Yes. The first part of the book is told by someone who calls Elmer “my father”. It makes it sound like it is a true story that happened to someone’s dad.

S: Hmm, so the narrator of the first book, My Father’s Dragon, is Elmer’s child, right?

C: Yes. And Elmer is a nine year old boy when things are happening.

S: So it really reads like you are hearing a tale that Elmer told his child and that child grew up and is telling you the story. And then the remaining two books are told in the third person, right?

C: Yes. There is no narrator calling Elmer “my father” anymore. Elmer is only a boy in those two parts.

S: I see. So then Elmer finds this dragon and they get to be friends?

C: Yes. The dragon has blue and yellow stripes and has a long tail and has red eyes and red feet.

S: That’s a very colorful dragon!

C: Yup. The cat helps Elmer devise a plan to help the dragon and Elmer goes and saves the dragon. The first part of the book is all about Elmer finding the dragon. Then they become friends, and in the second book, they are stuck in an island. Then the dragon takes Elmer home, and in the third part of the book he goes to his own home, Blueland. And then there is some trouble there, and Elmer helps him.

S: That sounds like a sweet story.

C: Yes, I think so.

Caramel is reading Three Tales of My Father's Dragon, written by Ruth Stiles Gannett and illustrated by Ruth Chrisman Gannett.
Caramel is reading Three Tales of My Father’s Dragon, written by Ruth Stiles Gannett and illustrated by Ruth Chrisman Gannett.

S: So you have read a lot of books about dragons. Does the dragon in this book resemble any dragons you know of?

C: Not really. This dragon is completely different. He does talk, and he is very colorful, like he is wearing striped PJs, dragon-sized and shaped of course. And I don’t think he can breathe fire or anything.

S: Do any one of Elmer’s family or friends meet this dragon?

C: No.

S: So is Elmer the only human involved in the stories?

C: Yes. There are canaries, there is the cat, there is an adult gorilla, and six baby gorillas, but there are not any other humans in the story. I mean, some show up, but they don’t really play a role in the story.

S: That is interesting. Somehow a lot of the things you are telling me about this book remind me of another classic Marshmallow had reviewed way back: Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater, There were humans in that story, but the tone of the book and the happiness you are talking about reminded me of that one. Anyways, did you enjoy reading this book?

C: Yes. I especially liked the pictures.

S: Oh, tell me more.

C: They are all black and white, but they are very detailed and I could see exactly what Elmer and his dragon look like.

S: That sounds great Caramel. Would you have enjoyed being friends with Elmer and the dragon?

C: Yep. They are both fun and nice.

S: So did you know that there is apparently a 1997 animated movie version of this story?

C: Yes, we just found it, but it is in Japanese!

S: Yes, so we could not really watch it and understand it fully, but it was nice to look at, wasn’t it?

C: Yes. Let’s put it in here!

S: Sure. We can put a link to it. Here it is: https://youtu.be/5obEfjUyr6k. We might still watch it some day.

C: Especially if we learn to speak Japanese.

S: True. Okay, let us wrap up our review. What are your three words to describe this book?

C: Adventure, happy, friendship.

S: Hmm, those are not quite descriptive words, but I get your point. Thank you. So what do you want to tell our readers as we wrap things up?

C: Stay tuned for more book bunny reviews!

Caramel really enjoyed reading Three Tales of My Father's Dragon, written by Ruth Stiles Gannett and illustrated by Ruth Chrisman Gannett.
Caramel really enjoyed reading Three Tales of My Father’s Dragon, written by Ruth Stiles Gannett and illustrated by Ruth Chrisman Gannett.

Marshmallow reviews Hurricane Child by Kacen Callender

Today Marshmallow reviews Hurricane Child, a novel by Kacen Callender published in 2018.

Marshmallow reviews Hurricane Child by Kacen Callender.
Marshmallow reviews Hurricane Child by Kacen Callender.

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

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): Caroline Murphy was born during a hurricane in the U.S. Virgin Islands. This means that she is a hurricane child. But hurricane children are supposed to be unlucky and Caroline has many reasons to feel unlucky. Her mother has disappeared, the children in her school all dislike her, and a woman in black whom no one else is able to see has been following her, ever since she almost drowned on her father’s boat. This woman is everywhere, watching her in school and at home.

Caroline’s life takes an unexpected turn when a new student starts attending her Catholic school. The new student, Kalinda, immediately becomes someone who everyone wants to be friends with. Another popular girl in the school, named Anise who bullies Caroline, asks Kalinda to sit with her group at lunch. Eventually, it seems that Kalinda is now Anise’s friend. However, when Caroline asks Kalinda to sit with her at lunch, Kalinda agrees and they become good friends. In fact, Caroline starts to develop deeper feelings for Kalinda. Unfortunately, Kalinda believes that two women cannot be in love and Caroline hides her feelings. 

Eventually Caroline figures out that Kalinda can see the woman in black, too. Caroline believes that the woman in black is related to her mother’s disappearance. When Caroline confides her suspicions with her friend, Kalinda explains that the woman is black is likely a spirit from the spirit world. Caroline begins to worry that the woman in black has stolen her mother and taken her to the spirit world forever. 

Marshmallow is reading Hurricane Child by Kacen Callender.
Marshmallow is reading Hurricane Child by Kacen Callender.

Marshmallow’s Review: I think that Hurricane Child is a beautiful book that was written very well. The author’s writing style is detailed and poetic. The author presented Caroline’s feelings, her hate, her love, and her sadness, very well. The characters are well written, are realistic, and are relatable. 

On the other hand, the plot had so many elements that I found it slightly hard to keep up. I had trouble occasionally following all the plotlines and I did not understand everything during my first reading. However, all loose threads of the plot were eventually tied up with satisfying endings. 

Trying to think about genre while writing my review, I came upon the description of magical realism from Wikipedia:

As a literary fiction style, magic realism paints a realistic view of the modern world while also adding magical elements, often dealing with the blurring of the lines between fantasy and reality. Magical realism, perhaps the most common term, often refers to literature in particular, with magical or supernatural phenomena presented in an otherwise real-world or mundane setting, commonly found in novels and dramatic performances. Despite including certain magic elements, it is generally considered to be a different genre from fantasy because magical realism uses a substantial amount of realistic detail and employs magical elements to make a point about reality, while fantasy stories are often separated from reality. Magical realism is often seen as an amalgamation of real and magical elements that produces a more inclusive writing form than either literary realism or fantasy.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_realism

Reading this, I think Hurricane Child is definitely magic realism, as the woman in black somehow blends into the realist plotlines of the story. (Ikenga, the book I reviewed last week, is probably also in this genre.) Maybe this aspect of the book was a reason why I had some difficulty first understanding what was real and what was actually going on.

Marshmallow’s Rating: 90%

Marshmallow rates Hurricane Child by Kacen Callender 90%.

Caramel reviews Cleopatra in Space: Secret of the Time Tablets by Mike Maihack

Caramel recently discovered the Cleopatra in Space graphic novel series by Mike Maihack, and he has already reviewed the first two books. (You might find it useful to check out his reviews of the first book Target Practice  and the second book The Thief and the Sword before continuing on.) Today he talks about the third book in the series: Secret of the Time Tablets. As usual, Sprinkles is taking notes and asking questions.

Caramel reviews Cleopatra in Space: Secret of the Time Tablets by Mike Maihack.
Caramel reviews Cleopatra in Space: Secret of the Time Tablets by Mike Maihack.

Sprinkles: So Caramel you know what I am going to ask you.

Caramel: Yes, I know you will say: “So Caramel, tell me about this book.”

S: Do you not want me to say that then?

C: I don’t know. I guess it is a reasonable way to start our reviews.

S: Okay, let us start differently this time. How do you want to start?

C: I don’t know. I guess I can still tell you about the book.

S: I think that would be nice.

C: Well, in this book we find the startling truth about the true identity of Xaius Octavian!

S: That sounds kind of ominous.

C: Well, Xaius Octavian is the villain of the book, so it is kind of ominous to find out that he was all along–

S: Wait, that sounds awfully like a spoiler. So let us stop right there. Don’t tell me who he turns out to have been all along. I think I can wait.

C: Okay I won’t tell.

S: Instead tell me about the secret of the time tablets. Are these the tablets that brought Cleo to the future from all the way back in Ancient Egypt?

C: Yup. But I think the tablets do not play a big role in this book actually. They give Cleo a ton of power, but other than that, i’m not sure if we learn the secret or anything. It is kind of like in the How to Train Your Dragon series, you do not really learn about how to train your dragon. I mean, there are pages of the books that look like the could be parts of a manual, but mostly there are stories about dragons and their Vikings.

S: Hmm, will you read me out loud what it says in the back of the book?

C: Okay, let me read:

Cleo and her friends journey from Yasiro Academy to the city of Hykosis, where some of the most notorious thieves and assassins live. They’re in search of information about the time tablets that could determine Cleo’s fate — whether she wants them to or not. But the group is separated when Xaius Octavian’s fleet attacks their ship, and Cleo and Akila are on their own until they run into an old nemesis. Will Cleo find the information she needs and get out of Hykosis alive?

C: Did you like my dramatic voice?

S: I did. And I could also see a bit how the tablets come into play in this book. It seems to me that they are important, but then Cleo and her friends have a lot of other things to worry about through the book.

C: I guess you could say that.

Caramel is reading Cleopatra in Space: Secret of the Time Tablets by Mike Maihack.
Caramel is reading Cleopatra in Space: Secret of the Time Tablets by Mike Maihack.

S: Okay, so it seemed like you read through this book very quickly, and then turned over to the first page and began rereading. I’m guessing this means you liked it.

C: Yup.

S: So tell me your three words to describe it then.

C: Colorful, adventurous, and funny. <switches to dramatic movie trailer narrator voice, as much as a little bunny can do it> Danger awaits them in Hykosis!

S: Oh, that sounds mysterious! And exciting!

C: And dangerous! But then that would make four words. So I cannot say it.

S: I think you can say it if you want to.

C: Okay, I want to. The adventure is dangerous.

S: So are you excited about the fourth book?

C: Oh yes. I actually got both of the books from the library at the same time. So I will dive into the fourth book right after this review.

S: Hmm, so we should probably wrap things up then.

C: Yes, I definitely think so.

S: Do you think there will be a review of that fourth book too?

C: Yes, I am quite sure.

S: Okay then, what do you want to tell our readers as we wrap things up?

C: Stay tuned for more book bunny reviews!

Caramel really enjoyed reading Cleopatra in Space: Secret of the Time Tablets by Mike Maihack, and is looking forward to reading the fourth book in the series.
Caramel really enjoyed reading Cleopatra in Space: Secret of the Time Tablets by Mike Maihack, and is looking forward to reading the fourth book in the series.

Marshmallow reviews Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor

Today Marshmallow reviews a 2020 novel by Nnedi Okorafor: Ikenga. Sprinkles is taking notes and asking questions.

Marshmallow reviews Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor.
Marshmallow reviews Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor.

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

Marshmallow: Ikenga is about a twelve-year-old boy named Nnamdi, whose father used to be the police chief in their village in Nigeria. But the father is killed and his murderer has not been caught. Nnamdi feels weak, because he knows who the murderer is but he is too young to do anything about it. But one day, his father’s spirit visits him, and gives him an Ikenga, a small statue of a horned creature who gives Nnamdi great powers, making him transform into a powerful, seven-foot-tall man.

S: That is very interesting. So he transforms like the Incredible Hulk, or like Superman or Batman, into a hero with super powers.

M: Yes. The village he is from is very corrupt, and Nnamdi takes on the criminals who do whatever they want and go unpunished. But along the way he also needs to figure out how to control his powers.

S: So is there a lot of violence in the book then?

M: There are some fight scenes, so I think one could call it violent, but we mainly see everything through Nnamdi’s perspective, and we see him go through his daily life with his mom, and it does not feel like violence is the central theme.

S: What would you say the central theme is?

M: I think it is about controlling your own emotions, your own powers. Nnamdi needs to figure out how to control his new powers, or he might start hurting people he cares about.

S: So would you say it is about self-control or about knowing yourself?

M: I’d say both.

Marshmallow is reading Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor.
Marshmallow is reading Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor.

S: I understand that the author uses a lot of ingredients from Nigerian and Igbo mythology and spirituality. Did you find it difficult to enter into that world?

M: The author really creates a vivid world, a totally convincing one, and so as the reader I found it really easy to get into the story and its story world.

S: That is really great to hear. I’m really getting eager to read Ikenga. Some of what you are telling me reminds me of Children of Blood and Bone, also by a Nigerian-American author, Tomi Adeyemi, who was able to create a completely captivating world in Africa, of magic, spirits, and myths. But of course you have not read that book yet. So let me ask you another question. If you were able to ask one question to the author, what would it be?

M: Let me think. I think the story wraps up really well, and the author doesn’t keep us hanging but I found Nnamdi and his world fascinating, and am kind of curious if the author would be writing more about Nnamdi in the future.

S: Hmm, I think that is an interesting question. This is a recent book, so we do not know if there will be a sequel, and if as you say, the story is already wrapped up well, there may not be. But maybe we will explore other books the author wrote. She does have several others; she apparently was a national-level athlete in high school before getting paralyzed and turning to writing.

M: I did not know that.

S: Yes, her story is very moving. But she is a very interesting writer, and maybe we will read more books from her.

M: I’d like that!

S: Okay, this is probably a good time to wrap up this review. How would you rate this book?

M: I’d rate it 95%.

S: Thanks. And what do you want to tell our readers?

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

Marshmallow enjoyed reading Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor and rates is 95%.
Marshmallow enjoyed reading Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor and rates is 95%.