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%.

Caramel reviews Dinosaurs (Magic Tree House Fact Tracker #1) by Will Osborne and Mary Pope Osborne

A while back, Caramel inherited Marshmallow’s collection of Magic Tree House books and he has been going through them. (For his reviews of books in the series, see Night of the Ninjas (Magic Tree House #5), Afternoon on the Amazon (Magic Tree House #6), Sunset of the Sabertooth (Magic Tree House #7), Midnight on the Moon (Magic Tree House #8), Dolphins at Daybreak (Magic Tree House #9), Ghost Town at Sundown (Magic Tree House #10), and Lions at Lunchtime (Magic Tree House #11).) He has also been revisiting the accompanying Fact Tracker books. (For his reviews of some of the Fact Tracker books, see Knights and Castles (Magic Tree House Fact Tracker #2) and Sea Monsters (Magic Tree House Fact Tracker #17).) Today he decided to discuss the first ever Fact Tracker book in the series: Dinosaurs. As usual, Sprinkles is asking questions and taking notes.

Caramel reviews Dinosaurs (Magic Tree House Fact Tracker #1) by Will Osborne and Mary Pope Osborne.
Caramel reviews Dinosaurs (Magic Tree House Fact Tracker #1) by Will Osborne and Mary Pope Osborne.

Sprinkles: Okay Caramel, tell me about this book.

Caramel: This is the first Fact Tracker book for the Magic Tree House books. It is supposed to be paired up with the first Magic Tree House book, Dinosaurs Before Dark.

S: Hmm, you did not review that book, but you did read it of course. Right?

C: Right. That was where we first met Jack and Annie, and learned about the magic tree house. In that book, Jack and Annie went back to the time of the dinosaurs.

S: And so this book is written to accompany that one for young bunnies like you who like to learn more facts about the topic of the book.

C: Yes, I always want to know more about dinosaurs and things.

S: I know. You already reviewed a book about dinosaurs for our blog, The Complete Guide to Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Reptiles by Chris McNab.

C: Yes. And I reviewed a whole lot of How Do Dinosaurs … books by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague last week.

S: Of course those latter ones were not really about dinosaurs though they did have a lot of pretty precise drawings. But let us get back to this Fact Tracker book.

the biggest C: Yeah. This book tells us everything humans know about dinosaurs. There are pages for Tyrannosaurus rex, and other meat eaters, and then there are pages and pages of information on plant eating dinosaurs like sauropods, triceratops, and ankylosauruses. Then there is a Hall of Fame. There are lists of the fastest, the biggest, and the ones with the biggest heads, biggest eyes, and the longest necks, and the longest names, and so on.

S: Hmm, what is the one with the biggest eyes?

C: Dromiceiomimus! They had enormous eyes apparently.

S: I had not heard of those before!

Caramel is reading about Tyrannosaurus Rex in Dinosaurs (Magic Tree House Fact Tracker #1) by Will Osborne and Mary Pope Osborne.
Caramel is reading about Tyrannosaurus Rex in Dinosaurs (Magic Tree House Fact Tracker #1) by Will Osborne and Mary Pope Osborne.

S: So even though you are a little bunny who already knew a lot about dinosaurs, you found new things to learn in this book, right?

C: Yep. For example, I learned more about the ankylosauruses. And I learned that the stegosaurus has a brain the size of a hot dog, so small for a dinosaur of that size.

S: So I know you often reread books you have read before. Do you think you will come back to this one again?

C: Yes. I love this book because it is about dinosaurs and I love dinosaurs. And I like the pictures! And sometimes, I forget some facts and then I can remember them when I read the book again.

S: So tell me more about the pictures?

C: They are black and white but very realistic. They are almost 3D, and there are some photographs. I love looking at them. My favorite is the ankylosaurus!

S: That is great Caramel. Tell me your three word summary of this book. Which three words would you use to describe it?

C: Informative, helpful, neat facts, and cool drawings.

S: Hmm, again that is a little bit more than three words, but it’s alright. So let us wrap up our review then. What do you want to tell our readers?

C: Stay tuned for more book bunny reviews!

Caramel enjoyed reading Dinosaurs (Magic Tree House Fact Tracker #1) by Will Osborne and Mary Pope Osborne, and expects he will be coming back to it for tidbits on dinosaurs many more times in the future.
Caramel enjoyed reading Dinosaurs (Magic Tree House Fact Tracker #1) by Will Osborne and Mary Pope Osborne, and expects he will be coming back to it for tidbits on dinosaurs many more times in the future.