Caramel reviews Train Your Angry Dragon by Steve Herman

Caramel reviewed Train Your Dragon to Accept NO by Steve Herman a couple weeks ago. He really liked the little dragon Diggory Doo in the book so he wanted to read and review a second book from this series (My Dragon Books). Sprinkles is taking notes and asking some followup questions as usual.

Caramel reviews Train Your Angry Dragon by Steve Herman.
Caramel reviews Train Your Angry Dragon by Steve Herman.

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

Caramel: You always say that!

S: Ok, I won’t. I take it back. so you can start!

C: Ok. So I want to tell you about the book. You know how it’s about a dragon which has a temper. He keeps having temper tantrums.

S: The dragon is Diggory Doo from the other book, Train Your Dragon to Accept NO, that you reviewed earlier, right?

C: Yes. Drew is teaching us how to train a dragon. Here is how he starts:

First, you start with common tricks
like roll over, sit and stay …
Then you must potty train your dragon
and teach him how to play. 

Caramel shows the page where Drew is telling us how to train one's dragon.
Caramel shows the page where Drew is telling us how to train one’s dragon.

S: Then what else do we learn?

C: We learn that dragons make a good pet, but they have a bad temper. And their temper tantrums can ruin your day!

S: Hmm, so then how are we supposed to train our dragon to manage their temper? Reading through the pages we see Drew teaching Diggory Doo to calm himself down in different circumstances.

C: Yes. So for example when Diggory Doo doesn’t want to share Drew tells him to think about the other kids and how they feel:

“Instead of getting mad,
here’s what you should do…
Just treat the other children
how you want them to treat you.”

S: Yes, then there is the time when Diggory Doo gets upset because it’s raining and he can’t get out.

C: Oh yes, that’s when Drew says:

So I told him that when angry
thoughts begin to fill his head,
He can make them go away by thinking
happy thoughts instead.

S: Yes, that does seem like a good idea, doesn’t it Caramel?

C: Yes, I think so too.

S: Do you think you could use some of these tricks when you are feeling upset or angry?

C: Yes, maybe I can.

S: Which ones in particular sound most realistic to you? Let us pick one that you will try to use next time.

C: Happy thoughts. I like that one. I will try to think happy thoughts the next time I feel angry.

S: That sounds like a good plan Caramel! Apparently there are several other books with Diggory Doo and his human friend Drew, right? Looking at the last few pages of the book, you can see at least twenty more books from this My Dragon Books series!

C: Yes, I want to read all of them!

S: Wait! Why? What do you like most about this book?

C: The characters. When Diggory Doo cries or gets mad, he’s pretty funny.

S: How about the ideas? The idea to handle powerful and unpleasant feelings might be helpful too, don’t you think?

C: Yes! Happy thoughts! I love that! Ommmmmmm!

Caramel pledges to try to think happy thoughts the next time he feels upset or angry, trying out one of the tricks in the book Train Your Angry Dragon by Steve Harmon.
Caramel pledges to try to think happy thoughts the next time he feels upset or angry, trying out one of the tricks in the book Train Your Angry Dragon by Steve Harmon.

Marshmallow reviews The Mysterious Mannequin by Carolyn Keene (Book #47 of Nancy Drew Detective Stories)

Marshmallow has read about fifty of the classic Nancy Drew books by Carolyn Keene. Below she shares her thoughts about The Mysterious Mannequin, the forty-seventh volume in the series, first published in 1970.

Marshmallow reviews The Mysterious Mannequin by Carolyn Keene (Book #47 of Nancy Drew Detective Stories).
Marshmallow reviews The Mysterious Mannequin by Carolyn Keene (Book #47 of Nancy Drew Detective Stories).

Marshmallow’s quick take: If you like detective stories where the main character is a kid who solves crime mysteries, then this might be the book series for you. 

Marshmallow’s Summary (with spoilers): Nancy Drew receives a mysterious package that contains a Turkish prayer rug that hides a message. Nancy’s friends, George, and Bess, help her figure out the message:

“Carson, find mannequin. I love her. Carry her to Constantinople.”

Nancy and her father Carson Drew decide that the sender is probably Farouk Tahmasp, a client of Mr. Drew who, after being charged for smuggling, disappeared mysteriously. But other people know about the rug that Farouk Tahmasp sent to the Drews: a man comes and attempts to steal the Turkish prayer rug. Luckily, Nancy’s dog Togo saves the day (and the rug). Nancy sees a man who looks exactly like the man who tried to rob the Drew house. He meets with a woman and shows her a note that is short but sad. She bursts into tears, and then when the man sees Nancy, he tells her to run. They flee and Nancy and her friends, George and Bess, run after them.   

Nancy is an amateur detective and immediately starts to search for the mannequin that the sender, Farouk Tahmasp, is looking for. Nancy finds a clue while dining at a Greek/Turkish restaurant. Nancy describes the thief and the woman who he talked to. She asks if he knows anyone by the descriptions that she tells him. Another man, probably the “neighborhood boss”, gets up and asks them (not very nicely) why they are asking all these questions. Nancy asks him who he is and then he goes back and sits down again. The owner of the restaurant, Mr. Akurzal, leaves. Later one of the waiters drops a note in Nancy’s lap. It says:

“There are many young people who answer your description but you might look for two men, Cemal Aga and Tunay Arik, and girls, Alime Gursel and Aisha Hatun.”

Find the people that the owner, Mr. Akuzal, told them about in the note. They cross out two of the suspects, Cemal Aga and Alime Gursel. That means that the main suspects are Tunay Arik and Aisha Hatun. They can’t find them though. Nancy and her friend, Ned, look but they can’t find the man Tunay Arik. Nancy and Ned start looking for Tunay Arik in shops. They don’t find him, but they do meet the two girls who lead them to Tunay Arik. Sue and Kathy, the two girls, take them to Tunay Arik’s location. He is not there though. They find out who is the woman, Aisha Hatun. They learn that Aisha and Farouk were in love and then Farouk got involved in the smuggling issue. (Farouk was proven innocent.) Farouk left and then Tunay started annoying her. Nancy and her friends, George, Bess, Aisha, Ned, Burt, and Evan, all leave to Turkey. The problem is that they don’t know where the mannequin is. Where is the mannequin?

Marshmallow is reading The Mysterious Mannequin by Carolyn Keene (Book #47 of Nancy Drew Detective Stories).
Marshmallow is reading The Mysterious Mannequin by Carolyn Keene (Book #47 of Nancy Drew Detective Stories).

Marshmallow’s Review:  This is one of my favorite Nancy Drew mysteries and I have read it over and over again, several times. The characters are interesting and the way that Nancy reveals the mannequin is intriguing.

It is also at the same time an old book and its age shows. I felt that occasionally it is not very culturally sensitive. But the book does try to give a flavor of Istanbul to the readers, and does mention some facts about Turkish history.

Nancy Drew is a little like Encyclopedia Brown (you can see my review of Encyclopedia Brown Books 1-4 here). Nancy Drew is not an encyclopedia of facts A to Z but is very intelligent. She has a very practical mind and has the ability to make connections that most of the time solve the mystery that she is working on. Her friends are not as intelligent but are helpful and supporting of her.

Marshmallow’s rating: 95%

Marshmallow rates The Mysterious Mannequin by Carolyn Keene (Book #47 of Nancy Drew Detective Stories) 95%.
Marshmallow rates The Mysterious Mannequin by Carolyn Keene (Book #47 of Nancy Drew Detective Stories) 95%.

Caramel reviews Children It’s Time to Meet Your Teeth by Amanda Jones

Caramel had to go to the dentist for a few times this past month and so he has been thinking a bunch about teeth and dentists. As he likes to read about real things, he decided to review a book about teeth and dentists for the Book Bunnies blog. Below he shares his thoughts on Children It’s Time to Meet Your Teeth by Amanda Jones. As usual Sprinkles is taking notes.

Caramel reviews Children It's Time to Meet Your Teeth by Amanda Jones.
Caramel reviews Children It’s Time to Meet Your Teeth by Amanda Jones.

Sprinkles: So Caramel tell me about this book.

Caramel: It’s kind of weird. Teeth are talking to people and they are giving presents to people and stuff like that.

S: So the book represents the teeth as living characters. Right?

C: Yeah, which is actually kind of weird.

S: Why do you think the author would do that kind of thing? Why do you think the illustrator puts faces on the teeth?

C: So kids like the book perhaps? And maybe you might like your teeth more and take better care of them?

S: Yes, I think that is a good reason. Does it work? Does the book make you think about your teeth more kindly? Does it make you want to take better care of them?

C: Kind of. The book also tells you why you should take better care of your teeth. Tooth decay looks bad and can really hurt. And decayed teeth are called dental caries. You also learn that brushing with brushes with soft bristles is better.

S: Yes, there is a tooth being brushed with a brush with hard bristles and it doesn’t look happy, does it?

C: It looks kind of mad actually. Sad and mad at the same time.

Caramel is reading Children It’s Time to Meet Your Teeth.

S: So what else can we say about the book?

C: Every page has a picture. It’s kind of a picture book, all pictures and only some words. And at the end there is a word search puzzle you can do that has a lot of tooth-related words that the book mentioned earlier.

S: So this is a teaching book, right? It’s teaching you something?

C: Yes. The teeth on the front cover look kind of like ghosts!

S: Yes, they kind of do! On the cover we also see that the author Amanda Jones is an R.N. Do you know what that is Caramel?

C: Nope. But let me look it up… Hmm, apparently it means “registered nurse“.

S: Why do you think the publisher put the author’s credentials on the front cover? That is, why do you think they wanted the reader to know the author is a nurse?

C: Probably a nurse would know more about our teeth and health stuff than random people?

S: Yes, exactly. They are trying to tell us that the author is knowledgeable, an expert in the health field. Does that make the information in the book sound more convincing?

C: Yep.

S: So let us wrap this up. What’s the last thing you want to say?

C: Good bye! And don’t forget to brush your teeth! And stay tuned for more reviews from the Book Bunnies!

Caramel enjoyed learning more about teeth in Amanda Jones' Children It's Time to Meet Your Teeth.
Caramel enjoyed learning more about teeth in Amanda Jones’ Children It’s Time to Meet Your Teeth.

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%.