Caramel has already reviewed the graphic novel versions of the first three books of Tui Sutherland’s Wings of Fire series. (See Caramel’s review of The Dragonet Prophesyhere; his review of The Lost Heir is here; and finally his review of The Hidden Kingdom is here.) Today, for his last review for 2020 (and the last review of the book bunnies until February 2021), he decided to review the fourth book in the series that appeared (just yesterday!) as a graphic novel: The Dark Secret (adapted by Barry Deutsch and Rachel Swirsky, art work by Mike Holmes, color by Maarta Laiho). As usual, Sprinkles is taking notes and asking questions as needed.
Sprinkles: So Caramel, I saw you were so eager to get your paws on this book as soon as possible. Was it worth the wait?
Caramel: Yup. Most definitely.
S: So you have read it once so far. What happens in this book?
C: In the beginning Starflight finds himself in the Night Kingdom because some NightWings have kidnapped him.
S: Oh then, the rest of the book is him trying to get back?
C: Nope. There is that but there are a lot of other things happening, too. They run to the rain forest and have other adventures.
S: Do we learn more about the prophesy in this book?
C: Yes, apparently, it’s … oops, I should not spoil it for the readers. But yes, we learn a lot of new things that I didn’t know.
S: At least tell us: are they interesting and surprising?
C: Yep yep yep!
S: Tell me more about Starflight. Did we meet him before in one of the earlier books?
C: Yes, of course. He is one of the five dragons the prophesy says will save the world. Remember, he is a NightWing but cannot tell the future or read minds like most others can.
S: So each of the books tells the adventures of one of these five dragons, right?
C: Right. The first one was about Clay, the MudWing. The second was about Tsunami, the SeaWing. The third was about Glory, the RainWing. And this is about Starflight, the NightWing. Then of course the fifth one should be about Sunny, who is a SandWing.
S: That seems to me to be a good narrative strategy for series. I do hope you will some day read the books these graphic novels are based upon, too. I expect those will have a lot more details about these characters and their world.
C: Yes, I think I will some day. But for now I want to read the graphic novels over and over again.
S: Okay then. We can wrap up this review so you can read it again.
S: We should also remind our readers that we will be off for January 2021, and we will be back in February 2021.
C: Yes! Happy new year everyone! And stay tuned for more book bunny reviews!
Sprinkles: So Marshmallow, you finally got your paws on Rick Riordan’s third series on Greek and Roman mythology. How did you like this one?
Marshmallow: Well, I have only read the first two books so far, but I think that they are really successful. The previous series were written by demigods, but this one is narrated by Apollo, the sun god. Except that he is no longer a god: he has become mortal because Zeus got mad at him for something he did in the Heroes of Olympus series and turned him into a mortal as a punishment.
S: That sounds like an interesting premise for a new story line.
M: Yes! Apparently he had been made mortal before and he knows what he is supposed to do to become a god again. He has to find a demigod who will claim him and he has to serve this demigod as they together attempt a quest.
S: So there is again a quest in this series? Or a series of quests, one per book?
M: Sort of. There is one big quest, involving oracles, but there are smaller things Apollo has to do in each of the books.
S: So you said this book is narrated by Apollo, or—what is his mortal name?
M: His name is now Lester Papadopoulos. And yes, he is narrating the story.
S: How do you like that?
M: He is a fun narrator to read. He is funny and likes to glorify himself. As the god of sun and poetry and such, Apollo is a bit full of himself. When he becomes mortal, he is still full of himself. Listen:
“The only thing I knew for certain: my punishment was unfair. Zeus needed someone to blame, so of course he’d picked the handsomest, most talented, most popular god in the pantheon: me.”
S: That does sound hilarious! I thought that in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, Riordan really seemed to enjoy narrating through Percy’s perspective. And in the Heroes of Olympus series, I had the sense that he most enjoyed being Leo, even though the narration was in the third person, listening to him go on and on as Leo, I felt that he was at his best. So here we now read through Apollo / Lester’s voice, and it sounds like it is once again pretty good.
M: I think Riordan likes humorous narrators. Making them goofy and making us laugh with and at the narrator. Apollo is really fun to read. He puts haikus at the beginning of each chapter.
S: It sounds really like I might have to read this book Marshmallow! So tell me a bit more about this first book. This is when Apollo is coming to terms with being mortal and figuring out how to get back, right?
M: Yeah. We see him try and find a demigod to serve. And it seems like he wanted Percy Jackson to be the one but he was claimed first by a girl named Meg.
S: Ooo, so we meet a new demigod! Meg.
M: Yes. Meg is yet undetermined. We do not know her godly parent at the beginning. There are some clues already in the first few chapters, and we figure things out by the end of this first volume.
S: That is intriguing. Hmm, so Percy is still around in this book, too?
M: Yes. And later on in the other books, some of the other demigods we know from the earlier series begin to show up too.
S: So who is your favorite character in this book then?
M: There is a peach spirit, named Peaches. I think that he is my favorite character because he is really loyal. He is kind of a demon baby, but he is nice to the good people in the story. But back to Percy and Apollo and Meg. Here is a dialog Apollo has with Meg about Percy that can give you more of a sense of what Lester / Apollo is like:
“Meg,” I said, “I realize some demigods are not good. I could tell you stories of all the ones I’ve had to kill or transform into herbs–” “Herbs?” “But Percy Jackson has always been reliable. You have nothing to fear. Besides, he likes me. I taught him everything he knows.” She frowned. “You did?” I found her innocence somewhat charming. So many obvious things she did not know.
S: That sounds like a book I want to read! So let us wrap this up so you can give me the book! How do you want to rate The Hidden Oracle?
M: I rate it 95% only because one has to have read the earlier books to get all the jokes and really appreciate this book. (You might also benefit from knowing some things about the Beatles…)
S: That is perfect Marshmallow! Let us now wrap up your last review of the year. Do you want to say something to our readers?
M: Yes. Happy holidays and happy new year to everyone! I will have more book reviews for you in February 2021!
For his penultimate post for 2020, Caramel chose to review a neat picture book about penguins learning about marshmallows (and sharing) called The Trouble with Penguins, written and illustrated by Rebecca Jordan-Glum. As usual, Sprinkles is taking notes and asking questions.
Sprinkles: So Caramel, what do you want to tell us about this book?
Caramel: It is a cute book about penguins. They apparently have some troubles. But I think penguins are perfectly fine.
S: I think the author uses the phrase “the trouble with penguins” a couple times. Can you find those in the book?
C: “You see the trouble with penguins is that they don’t always like to share.” And then there is this one: “Everyone knows that the trouble with penguins is that they aren’t very good at admitting when they are wrong.”
S: Hmm. Those troubles sound very familiar to me. I know some little bunnies who don’t always like to share…
C: I have no idea what you’re talking about.
S: Hmm, and I know some little bunnies who don’t always like to admit when they are wrong.
C: I still don’t know what you’re talking about.
S: Hmm, then let us say that it is quite challenging sometimes to admit when one makes a mistake. Isn’t that true?
C: I don’t know.
S: Well, sometimes I have trouble admitting when I am wrong.
C: I don’t.
S: Well, sometimes it does take a while, but eventually you do realize that you made a mistake and try to figure things out. Which is not a bad thing at all. But in these kinds of ways, these penguins seem like typical little bunnies to me.
C: Yes I guess so. And they love marshmallows! I love them too! Maybe we can have some with hot chocolate tonight?
S: That sounds good to me!
S: Okay, back to the book. What happens to the penguins in the book?
C: One of these little penguins learns how to roast marshmallows over a campfire, and teaches all his friends. But in the Antarctic ice, it is probably not a very good idea to have campfires because there isn’t any wood to use! And they all want their own sticks and their own fires and so on.
S: Yes, so then they get into some troubles, right?
C: Yes. But they eventually figure things out.
S: Yes, that’s right. It is a really sweet story. What three words would you use to describe it Caramel?
C: Warm, and fuzzy, and cute.
S: Those are good descriptors for this book Caramel! Reading the book made me want to have that hot chocolate with you!
C: That’s good because I’ve been ready for that hot chocolate, since yesterday.
S: Okay, maybe after dinner. But first we need to wrap up this review. What do you want to tell our readers Caramel?
Today Marshmallow reviews a book that her school teacher introduced her to: Wonder by R.J Palacio.
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): August (Auggie) Pullman was born with health issues that caused him to look very different from a lot of other kids. He had been homeschooled because he would get sick and possibly die if he went to school with other children. But now that he is stronger, his parents are now trying to get him to go to Beecher Prep, a private school. At first he is reluctant but eventually decides to go.
The principal, Mr. Tushman, introduces him to three kids who take him on a tour of the school: Julian, Jack Will (Jack is his first name, and his last name is Will, but for some reason people sometimes call him Jack Will), and Charlotte. Charlotte and Jack are nice enough, but Julian asks questions like, “what happened to your face?” and “was your face burned in a fire?” But on the bright side, August likes Jack Will and wants to be friends with him.
When August starts school, people try not to touch him or be next to him. At lunch, nobody wants to sit with him, not even Jack Will. But then a girl named Summer comes over and sits with him, and they become friends. Jack Will and August eventually become friends, too. Then on Halloween, August comes as a Bleeding Scream, not a Boba Fett (August is completely obsessed with Star Wars) as he said he would. He sits at a different desk and he overhears Julian and two mummies (he assumes they are Miles and Henry, two of Julian’s friends) saying mean things about him. But then he recognizes one of the mummies, and it is not Henry or Miles.
Marshmallow’s Review: Wonder is a great book for bunnies of many different ages. I think that it is especially meant for bunnies of ages 8-13 but it can still be enjoyed thoroughly by bunnies younger and/or older than that. Even grownup bunnies would enjoy reading it! (I am still trying to convince Sprinkles and Caramel to read it.)
A very interesting thing about Wonder is that different people narrate its different parts. For example. the first section is narrated by August, the second by August’s sister, Via (short for Olivia who looks like other kids), the third by Summer, and the fourth by Jack Will. And then there are many more sections. It is fun to read a book written in first person from many people’s perspectives, especially since their writing style is different.
Wonder has also been made into a movie though I have not seen it yet. Here is the trailer for it if you are interested:
Wonder is a great book also because the plot is well-written and well thought-out. The characters are well-developed and really realistic. R. J. Palacio has created:
“A crackling page-turner filled with characters you can’t help but root for.”