Caramel reviews We Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins

Today Caramel reviews another picture book: We Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins, the first of two Penelope books. As usual Sprinkles is taking notes and asking questions.

Caramel reviews We Don't Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins.
Caramel reviews We Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins.

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

Caramel: As you can see on the cover, there is a dinosaur who eats her classmates for some weird reason —

S: Is that Penelope?

C: Yes. How did you know?

S: I saw online that this book is one of a series on Penelope the T-Rex.

C: Really? Are there other Penelope books?

S: I saw at least one more.

C: Awesome! I have to get my paws on the other book!

S: Hmm, so does that mean you liked this one?

C: Yes yes yes yes!

S: I’m detecting a lot of enthusiasm in your voice! That is good. So let us get back to the book. What is the book about?

C: Penelope is starting school. And then she eats her classmates. All of them.

S: Wait, so her classmates are not other dinosaurs like her?

C: No. They are regular children, all except Penelope.

S: That is strange. She must feel out of place there a bit…

C: Or out of time. Dinosaurs and humans have not overlapped in time ever!

S: Well that is true, but perhaps you are thinking too hard to be dealing with a fictional story!

C: But you know I love dinosaurs! I even reviewed a whole book about dinosaurs for this blog!

S: I know! That is also why you know so much about them. But Penelope is a story dinosaur and so she is going to school with human children. That is unrealistic but could be the setting of an interesting story.

C: Very very interesting it turns out.

Caramel is reading We Don't Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins.
Caramel is reading We Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins.

S: So she eats her classmates! Why does she do that?

C: Apparently because “children are delicious”. And in the end her dad tells her: “You see, Penelope, children are the same as us on the inside. Just tastier.”

S: Then what happens? I’m getting curious!

C: Well, she has to spit them all out of course. And then a lot more things happen. She makes friends, gets scared of a goldfish named Walter and so on. It is all fun!

S: Sounds like a good book to me. So let us wrap things up. What three words would you use to describe this book?

C: Colorful, fun, and cute.

S: I agree. This is really a cute and fun book. It is sweet to see Penelope first get confused about why she should not eat her classmates and eventually figure out how to make friends with them. It is a sweet first day of school story really. It can well complement the Pigeon story about starting school for anxious little ones! So let us finish with your last words for the post.

C: Stay tuned for more Book Bunnies adventures!

Caramel enjoyed reading We Don't Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins and is curious to read more about Penelope's adventures.
Caramel enjoyed reading We Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins and is curious to read more about Penelope’s adventures.

Marshmallow reviews Kids Knitting by Melanie Falick

Marshmallow likes to make crafty things with her little paws. She already reviewed a beautiful book about origami for the book bunnies blog. Today she talks about a book about knitting: Kids Knitting: Projects for Kids of All Ages, by Melanie Falick. Sprinkles, who (recently re)started knitting with Marshmallow, is taking notes and asking questions.

Marshmallow reviews Kids Knitting: Projects for Kids of All Ages, by Melanie Falick.
Marshmallow reviews Kids Knitting: Projects for Kids of All Ages, by Melanie Falick.

Sprinkles: Tell me a bit about this book Marshmallow.

Marshmallow: This is a really good book for bunnies who like knitting or those who don’t know how to do it yet.

S: So is it a book teaching one how to knit?

M: Yes. It starts from telling you what you will need: yarn, straight knitting needles, and scissors. And we have those already! Then it tells you what other tools you might eventually need once you get going and know a bit about what you are doing. We already have some of those too. Like circular needles.

S: Yes, I know you have some circular needles and have already made some projects with them!

M: Yes.

S: Then what happens in the book? Do they teach you how to do different stitches?

M: Yes. But before that they tell you about other things. Like finger knitting, dying your own yarn, and rolling yarn into a ball, and so on. Then they start teaching the standard knitting stitches. They begin with teaching the reader how to cast on stitches–

S: That is, putting the number of stitch loops on the knitting needle that you will need to get started.

M: Yes. Then the book teaches the knit stitch, that is the easiest one. And there is even a poem to remember the moves by.

S: Oh, why don’t you share that poem with us then?

M: Okay:

Under the fence
Catch the sheep
Back we come
Off we leap

S: That sounds like a good way to remember the moves making the knit stitch!

M: This poem is on page 30. So the book is going really slowly to teach you really well everything you need. Then you learn about binding off–

S: That is, finishing the piece and getting it off your needles.

M: Yes. Then the first project starts. It is a bean bag. You can make it using only the knit stitch and the casting-on / binding-off techniques you already learned.

S: That’s good. So you get to practice along as you are reading and learning.

Marshmallow is reading Kids Knitting: Projects for Kids of All Ages, by Melanie Falick. Here she is looking at the directions to make a pen case.
Marshmallow is reading Kids Knitting: Projects for Kids of All Ages, by Melanie Falick. Here she is looking at the directions to make a pen case.

S: You have already made some of the projects from this book, right Marshmallow?

M: I made the bag for pencils or glasses.

S: Are there some others you are looking forward to working on?

M: I want to try the scarf with pockets.

S: That sounds like it could be fun and useful. What other types of projects are there in the book?

M: There are hats, scarves, backpacks, sweaters, dolls, all sorts of fun things you can make.

S: That sounds great! There seem to be projects that will interest all sorts of bunnies that will be doable for those who know little about knitting.

M: Yes, but also you learn a lot of new techniques along the way. For example you can learn how to use a circular needle or how to do the perl stitch, which I think should be called the tink stitch because it is the reverse of knit stitch.

S: I think that would be a great idea. But looking it up in a dictionary, apparently “tink” already has a knitting meaning: “undo a row of knitting one stitch at a time, in order to correct a mistake”.

M: Oh that makes sense too. Undoing is backwards! That’s kind of cool!

S: Yes, I agree! So before we wrap up, tell me how many other projects there are in the book.

M: There are a lot! Maybe around twenty or so.

S: So this is going to keep you busy for a while longer, right?

M: Yes.

S: I think so too. This is a useful book, and young bunnies and perhaps their parents, too, can learn from it. And it is a lot of fun to look at, too, because the pictures are bright as well as instructive. I say we can wrap up this review now. So what would your rating be for it?

M: I rate it 95%. And now I will go and start my new scarf.

Marshmallow rates Kids Knitting: Projects for Kids of All Ages by Melanie Falick 95%.
Marshmallow rates Kids Knitting: Projects for Kids of All Ages by Melanie Falick 95%.

Caramel reviews I Want to Sleep Under the Stars! by Mo Willems

Caramel has always enjoyed books by Mo Willems. He has already reviewed a book from his Pigeon series and another from his Elephant and Piggie series for the book bunnies blog. Today he reviews I Want to Sleep Under the Stars!, the third book in Willems’s more recent Unlimited Squirrels series. As usual Sprinkles is taking notes and asking questions.

Caramel reviews I Want to Sleep Under the Stars! by Mo Willems.
Caramel reviews I Want to Sleep Under the Stars! by Mo Willems.

Sprinkles: Hey Caramel, I saw you with a new Mo Willems book!

Caramel: Peace. Peace. Peace. Quiet. Quiet. Quiet.

S: What are you talking about?

C: Sorry, I was just reading the book.

S: So what is going on?

C: Right now I’m reading the part where three squirrels are yelling “Peace!” and another three are whispering “Quiet!”

S: But why?

C: Because Zoom Squirrel said he wants some peace and quiet to sleep so his friends break into two teams, one team for peace and another for quiet. And then they come and yell at Zoom: “Peace!” “Peace!” “Peace!” and the others whisper: “Quiet!” “Quiet!” “Quiet!”

S: Hmm, do you think that could help you go to sleep?

C: No, probably not. But they are trying.

S: So the story is that Zoom wants to sleep and his friends are really trying to help, and not really doing a great job with it. Did I get the story right?

C: Yes!

S: So all throughout, Zoom is trying to sleep and his friends’ help doesn’t help.

C: But they never give up trying to help. They want to be good friends. And they in the end help him to sleep under the stars in a way. But I won’t give away the ending!

S: Yes, let us not.

Caramel is reading I Want to Sleep Under the Stars! by Mo Willems. In these two pages, Zoom Squirrel is trying to sleep while her friends are trying to "encourage" her to sleep.
Caramel is reading I Want to Sleep Under the Stars! by Mo Willems. In these two pages, Zoom Squirrel is trying to sleep while the other squirrels are trying to “encourage” Zoom to sleep.

S: This sounds like a really sweet story. But this book has 96 pages! Is the story about Zoom trying to sleep under the stars the whole story of the book?

C: Most of it. But there are other things in the book too. There are some pages with facts about animals and stars, and three two-page parts where there are joking acorns telling jokes. They are weird jokes.

S: I thought a few of the jokes were fine, some were sillier than others.

C: The acorns tell only three jokes. But there are other animals asking questions too. There is a squirrel, the Quiz Squirrel, that asks a question about sleeping animals. They ask which of three animals sleeps longest every day.

S: Yes, that was interesting. Did you guess the answer?

C: No, I was wrong. It was interesting!

S: Yes, I agree. I thought that you might also enjoy the facts in this book. There are quite a few!

C: Yep. My favorite is about the sleeping animals, but I can’t give it away. Bunnies should figure it out on their own.

S: Yes, I agree. Okay then Caramel, before we wrap this up, what three words would you like to use to describe this book?

C: Colorful, squirrel-ly, funny.

S: I don’t think squirrel-ly is a word, but there are a lot of squirrels in this book so let’s keep it. So how do you want to end the review?

C: Stay tuned for more book bunnies reviews!

Caramel really enjoyed reading I Want to Sleep Under the Stars! by Mo Willems and is keen to read more about the Unlimited Squirrels!
Caramel really enjoyed reading I Want to Sleep Under the Stars! by Mo Willems and is keen to read more about the Unlimited Squirrels!

Marshmallow reviews Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn

Today Marshmallow reviews the epistolary novel Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel of Letters by Mark Dunn, a book recommended to her by her school teacher.

Marshmallow reviews Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn.
Marshmallow reviews Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like books about free speech or books about fighting against suppression, or alternatively if you like playing with letters and thinking about language, then this might be the book for you. 

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): Ella Minnow Pea lives on the fictional island of Nollop, which is home to Nevin Nollop, who is the supposed creator of the famous sentence, “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog”, a sentence that contains all letters of the English alphabet. This sentence is on a memorial statue of Nevin Nollop in the island.

The people of Nollop think very highly of Mr. Nollop, so when the letters of the sentence on the memorial statue start to fall off, the Council says that it is Mr. Nollop who has spoken from beyond the grave. They claim that it is Mr. Nollop’s will that people stop using the letters that have fallen. So you can’t use words, or read books, or write words that have the letters that have fallen. Even if you use them by mistake, you are still punished. For the first offense, you are scolded publicly. For your second offense, you get lashing or stocks, the violator can choose. A third offense is punished by banishment, and if the violator refuses, death. You can see how this would make things difficult! As the story progresses, things get more and more complicated. 

Marshmallow is reading Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn.
Marshmallow is reading Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn.

Marshmallow’s Review: I think that Ella Minnow Pea is a great book for kids eight and up because it has a well-written plot and developed characters. I say eight and up, because the plot is a bit complicated, so younger bunnies might have a harder time trying to understand what is happening.

This is especially true since Ella Minnow Pea is written in letters, like the book To Night Owl From Dogfish, which I reviewed before for this blog. It is interesting to read a book written in letters, because then you can see multiple people’s views, especially if they write in different styles.

Still if little bunnies want to read Ella Minnow Pea, they can read with their parents. This way if the younger ones don’t understand something, they can ask their parents. This can also help open up some of the important themes of the book.

The main theme in Ella Minnow Pea is freedom of speech because the Council is trying to have everyone stop using the words that fell from the statue. Once they lose the letter “D” they even change the names of the days, with Sunday becoming “Satto-gatto” for example. The book is about the importance of speech and language and how important it is for these to be free. In the end it is language (and people’s determination of course!) that saves the world.

Marshmallow’s Rating: 100%.

Marshmallow rates Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn 100%.
Marshmallow rates Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn 100%.