Caramel reviews How to Cheat a Dragon’s Curse (Book #4 of How to Train Your Dragon Series) by Cressida Cowell

It has almost been a month since Caramel reviewed for our blog How To Speak Dragonese, the third among the How To Train Your Dragon books by Cressida Cowell. Today he wanted to talk about the fourth book in this series: How to Cheat a Dragon’s Curse. As usual Sprinkles is taking notes and asking followup questions.

Reader beware! This review does contain some spoilers.

(You can also check out Caramel’s reviews of  How To Train Your Dragon, the book that started the series, and How to Be A Pirate, the second book. A while back, Marshmallow had also reviewed the ninth book, and her favorite in the series: How to Steal A Dragon’s Sword.)

Caramel reviews How to Cheat a Dragon's Curse (Book #4 of How to Train Your Dragon Series) by Cressida Cowell.
Caramel reviews How to Cheat a Dragon’s Curse (Book #4 of How to Train Your Dragon Series) by Cressida Cowell.

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

Caramel: Yes, I know. You’ll ask me to tell you a bit about this book. So Hiccup gets stung by a Venomous Vorpent.

S: What’s that?

C: It is a dragon whose sting is almost always fatal. The only cure is the vegetable that noone dares to name. The Potato!

S: Wait, how is the potato such a daring thing to talk about?

C: I am not sure. But the Venomous Vorpent comes up at the end of the third book, How to Speak Dragonese. Remember that I told you then that there was something like a cliffhanger? But we only learn that he stung Hiccup in this fourth book. Only at the very end.

S: Wait, so you are giving away the main plot line!

C: Kind of.

S: Hmm, that’s tricky! Maybe if we put a warning at the top of this review, we can salvage it. But try not to spoil things too much more, okay?

C: Okay, no more spoilers.

S: So tell me more about the book without any more spoilers.

C: We meet a new character named One-Eye. He is a dragon and he plays an important role in the story. In fact–

S: Wait! That sounds awfully like you are close to giving away more information about the book’s end. Remember, no more spoilers!

C: Okay, okay. But he does save Hiccup.

S: That sounds too much like another spoiler Caramel!

Caramel is reading How to Cheat a Dragon's Curse (Book #4 of How to Train Your Dragon Series) by Cressida Cowell.
Caramel is reading How to Cheat a Dragon’s Curse (Book #4 of How to Train Your Dragon Series) by Cressida Cowell.

S: Tell me some other things about the book.

C: There is another new character, a Doomfang. Those are some other types of dragons. And Hiccup thinks his friend Fishlegs has been stung by a Venomous Vorpent too. So there is a lot going on. There are also a lot of funny parts. Hiccup’s dad calls Fishlegs Fisheggs!

S: So it sounds like you really enjoyed the book.

C: The story is exciting, the plot is good, and I tried to read it as fast as possible. And I liked the end too. But of course I liked the other books in the series too.

S: So the author manages to keep up the fun and the adventure at a level comparable to the previous books.

C: Yes. So my words for the book would be: funny, adventurous, and a good plot.

S: Okay, those will work.

C: And I will close the review up by saying: Stay tuned for more book bunny reviews!

Caramel loved reading How to Cheat a Dragon's Curse (Book #4 of How to Train Your Dragon Series) by Cressida Cowell, and cannot wait to start reading the next book.
Caramel loved reading How to Cheat a Dragon’s Curse (Book #4 of How to Train Your Dragon Series) by Cressida Cowell, and cannot wait to start reading the next book.

Marshmallow reviews Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson

Today Marshmallow reviews Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson, published in 2017.

Marshmallow reviews Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson.
Marshmallow reviews Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson.

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

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): Jade Butler has been taught that she needs to take every opportunity she is offered, which is why she is still going to St. Francis High School. St. Francis is a private school, and when Jade was accepted with a scholarship, she knew that it was an opportunity, so as her mother taught her, she took it. When the book starts, she has been at St. Francis for two years. But being at St. Francis also means being away from her old friends and almost everyone she knows. Jade has few friends at school and her art is one thing she takes strength from.

This year, Jade is hoping that she will be chosen to be one of the group of people who will get to go to Costa Rica, to study abroad. But she is told that she has, instead, been selected to participate in a program called Woman to Woman. In Woman to Woman, Jade is assigned a mentor, like all of the other girls in the program. The program is supposed to help girls with issues. However, Jade’s mentor, a woman named Maxine, does not show up to the first meeting of the Woman to Woman program. Jade finds herself wondering, will this new Woman to Woman program actually help?

Marshmallow is reading Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson.
Marshmallow is reading Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson.

Marshmallow’s Review: I really enjoyed reading Piecing Me Together, but I want to say that I would recommend that younger bunnies wait until they are a little older before reading this book. It has some mature topics, and parents might want to wait until the bunnies are older. I think that the age group I would recommend Piecing Me Together the most to would to 12-year-old bunnies and up. But if course, if a parent has read it and thinks that their child should read it, Piecing Me Together is a great book.

I think that the author, Renée Watson, is very successful in creating realistic characters. Even if you haven’t been in all of the situations that the characters are in, you can identify or relate with them. Not only are the characters realistic, the book shows some issues in realistic ways. For example at some point, a salesclerk asks if she can take Jade’s purse, so she can make sure that Jade is not stealing anything. The salesclerk claims it is store policy, but Jade sees that several white women in the store still have their bags. The salesclerk claims it is because her bag is larger than theirs, but her bag is not actually that much larger. Through Jade’s eyes, the reader witnesses several such instances of racism.

The book is written in 76 short chapters. Each starts with a word in Spanish and its English translation. Jade is learning Spanish at school, and the words connect to the themes of the chapters well.

Marshmallow’s Rating: 95%.

Marshmallow is reading Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson.
Marshmallow rates Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson 95%.

Caramel reviews Poppy and Ereth by Avi

Caramel has enjoyed reading the adventures of animals living in and around Dimwood Forest. And he has already reviewed RagweedPoppyPoppy and Rye, Ereth’s Birthday, and Poppy’s Return for the book bunnies blog. Today he reviews Poppy and Ereth, the last book in this series by Avi. As usual, Sprinkles is taking notes and asking questions.

Caramel reviews Poppy and Ereth, written by Avi and illustrated by Brian Floca.
Caramel reviews Poppy and Ereth, written by Avi and illustrated by Brian Floca.

Sprinkles: Tell us a bit about this book Caramel.

Caramel: I hated the way it ended. I think Avi ruined everything!

S: Okay, that is a little strong, especially coming from you. I think you mean he did end the story in a very conclusive way, right?

C: I would say it a bit differently.

S: I know you did not like the end, but then again, if the author managed to get such a strong reaction from you, I am guessing that means he did a really good job creating this world and these characters that meant a lot to you.

C: Yes, that is correct. I still did not like what he did in the end.

S: Well, I have not yet read this one, so would you tell me not to?

C: I would. Do not read this book!

S: But I am a bit curious. The title makes me want to read it because I like Ereth and I am thinking this book will have more of his adventures with Poppy.

C: Well, they are both in the book, but they’re not together most of the time. Still yes, there are some adventures and I like Ereth, too.

S: So except for the very end where the author decided to finish things off with full certainty, is the story interesting?

C: Yes. Poppy gets caught and flown away by bats and has a lot of adventures. And Ereth thinks she is dead and plans a funeral for her.

S: I can see that being a good setup for both fun and adventure.

C: Yes, there is that in the book. But the end is sad, and there is some more sad stuff at the beginning too. I don’t know why Avi puts so many sad things into his books.

Caramel is reading Poppy and Ereth, written by Avi and illustrated by Brian Floca.
Caramel is reading Poppy and Ereth, written by Avi and illustrated by Brian Floca.

S: When you were reviewing Charlotte’s Web, you did say you don’t like sad books.

C: That’s true. I don’t like sad books, really.

S: So would you categorize this book as a sad book?

C: Yes. Both the beginning and the end have sad things happen, and all throughout, Ereth keeps talking about funerals and himself.

S: So you did not find it amusing or joyful as the other books in the series, then.

C: I like joyful. I did not think this was very joyful.

S: I think you just really did not like the fact that the author ended it so conclusively.

C: Yes. I wanted to know more about the creatures in Dimwood Forest, but now after what happens in the end-

S: Okay, let us not give things away that much. I think there might still be bunnies who will want to read the book for themselves. I think I will read it. I am curious to see how everything is tied up.

C: Well, as long as you are prepared for the sad parts, I can see you wanting to do that.

S: Yes, it would provide closure. That means a way of tying loose ends and letting go. This article talks about it in the context of relationships but it says it well:

a complete acceptance of what has happened and an honoring of the transition away from what’s finished to something new … in order to find different possibilities.

C: So are you trying to tell me that Avi wanted to write about something else? Some new characters and new places and new adventures?

S: Yes. And you as the reader can also move on and read about other characters and enjoy new and completely different adventures.

C: But I did not want to. I liked these characters and I liked Dimwood Forest.

S: I know. I suppose this is kind of like life. Sometimes we need to move on even when we don’t yet feel ready. So now you have finished reading all the Poppy books. Do you look over them and smile or do you have some lingering unhappiness about them?

C: Yes, I liked them. I liked Poppy and her family and Ereth, and all the other different characters in their lives. I think I have a smile on my face.

S: Yes, I love that smile on your face. Can you give me two more words, besides sad, that can describe this last book so we leave things on a happier note?

C: Adventurous, because Poppy again finds herself in a new adventure. And funny, because there is a point where Ereth is trying to smile. He is funny.

S: Okay, I am good with these three words. I think this will be the next book I read. In the meantime you can tell our readers to …

C: Stay tuned for more book bunny reviews!

Having read Poppy and Ereth, written by Avi and illustrated by Brian Floca, Caramel will remember the series with a smile.
Having read Poppy and Ereth, written by Avi and illustrated by Brian Floca, Caramel will remember the series with a smile.

Marshmallow reviews Logicomix by Apostolos Doxiadis, Christos H. Papadimitriou, Alecos Papadatos, and Annie di Donna

Marshmallow recently got her paws on Logicomix, a graphic novel telling of the first two-thirds of philosopher-mathematician Bertrand Russell‘s life, as it is intertwined with the story of the stormy events related to the philosophical foundations of mathematics that occurred in the early twentieth century. The book is most likely not intended for young readers, but Marshmallow found it interesting and wanted to review it for the book bunnies blog. Below is her conversation with Sprinkles about this book, written by Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos H. Papadimitriou, and illustrated by Alecos Papadatos and Annie di Donna.

Marshmallow reviews Logicomix, written by Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos H. Papadimitriou, and illustrated by Alecos Papadatos and Annie di Donna.
Marshmallow reviews Logicomix, written by Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos H. Papadimitriou, and illustrated by Alecos Papadatos and Annie di Donna.

Sprinkles: So Marshmallow, tell us a little about this book.

Marshmallow: The first thing I want to say is that this is not a children’s book. It’s not necessarily inappropriate for children, but some concepts might be confusing for young bunnies.

S: Why did you read it?

M: It looked interesting. It is a graphic novel and I like those.

S: I see. So tell us what it is about.

M: It’s about Bertrand Russell. He is a philosopher. Basically it is about his life.

S: And the book has a really intriguing subtitle: “An Epic Search for Truth”. How is that related to Russell?

M: I think it’s because he spent a lot of time thinking about what truth means, the true meaning of “true”.

S: Yes, Russell is a foundational figure for modern mathematical logic today. I find his story fascinating and I really liked this book myself when I read it. So what else do you want to tell us?

M: There are parts of the book where the two authors, the illustrators, and a researcher who is helping them with the project are talking among themselves. And there are the other parts where we basically follow Bertrand Russell give a speech about his life and his work in logic. The speech is supposed to be about “the role of logic in human affairs” and apparently Russell did not give any such speech.

S: But it probably makes a good plot device to tell us about his life, I guess.

M: Yes, I think it works.

Marshmallow is reading Logicomix, written by Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos H. Papadimitriou, and illustrated by Alecos Papadatos and Annie di Donna.
Marshmallow is reading Logicomix, written by Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos H. Papadimitriou, and illustrated by Alecos Papadatos and Annie di Donna.

S: So did you know about Bertrand Russell before reading this book?

M: No.

S: What do you think about him now, after having read it?

M: I think he is an interesting person. But according to this book review you showed me, not everything in the book is accurate.

S: Yes, I think the authors themselves say they took some artistic license with some of the facts. And that book review is a careful scholarly overview of the book that readers who might be curious about the accuracy of the text might check out. But let us get back to your reading of the book. What appealed to you most about this book?

M: Well, I liked the switch between the creators of the book and the subject of the book. It made things interesting. I also did not know about Russell and Wittgenstein and Gödel, and any of those philosophers, so I learned a lot.

S: And the book does cover a lot of ground in terms of the foundational debates of the early twentieth century. How did all that work out for you?

M: What do you mean by foundational debates?

S: I mean, the questions about the foundations of mathematics, of logic, of truth. How these folks were trying to understand why mathematics was true, how it worked, and so on.

M: I think some of that went over my head. But I did find it cool that people were thinking so hard about why math is true.

S: I know you find philosophical questions intriguing. The ones in this book are quite specific to math, it seems at first, but then if you think about it, we all want to know what is true, what makes something true, as opposed to false, fake news, or disinformation, or misinformation.

M: Yes. I did a project on all those this year. I used this website which talks about all the dangers of dihydrogen monoxide, and how it is everywhere, and how you should be very very afraid. But of course dihydrogen monoxide is just H2O, which is water!

S: Yes, I really liked your project! So we know it is sometimes hard to know what is true and what is not. And this book is about some philosophers who are trying to think about these questions very carefully and trying to see how to connect them to math.

M: Yes, I think that makes sense.

S: So I know you were not looking for philosophy or math when you started. Did all that overwhelm you when you were reading it?

M: No. I think they explained things in ways people could understand. I guess some things are a bit confusing, and I probably did miss some things, and maybe younger bunnies might not get any of the philosophical stuff, but it was interesting for me.

S: That’s great Marshmallow! And maybe you will come back to this book in a few years’ time if you are curious to dig deeper into the philosophical questions in it. I’m glad you read it!

M: Me too.

S: So as we wrap up this review, I’ll ask how you rate the book…

M: I rate this book 95%.

S: Sounds good! I know you always like to end our chats the way Caramel ends his reviews. So go ahead!

M: Stay tuned for more book bunny reviews!

Marshmallow has enjoyed reading Logicomix, written by Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos H. Papadimitriou, and illustrated by Alecos Papadatos and Annie di Donna and rates it 95%.
Marshmallow has enjoyed reading Logicomix, written by Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos H. Papadimitriou, and illustrated by Alecos Papadatos and Annie di Donna and rates it 95%.