Caramel reviews Verdi by Janell Cannon

Today Caramel reviews a book he borrowed from his school when his school closed down for the next few weeks due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic: Verdi by Janell Cannon. As usual Sprinkles is taking notes and asking questions.

Caramel reviews Verdi by by Janell Cannon.
Caramel reviews Verdi by by Janell Cannon.

Sprinkles: So Caramel, why did you pick this book to talk about today?

Caramel: Because I like this book. I like the illustrations, and the story.

S: I think the author both wrote the story and illustrated it herself.

C: Yes, she did. I like it. It is very green.

S: Yes, it is very calming. In fact we can read it out loud together, or watch someone else read it out loud, and it makes us feel calm and cozy, right?

C: Yep. Here is a video of someone reading Verdi that we found and watched:

A video reading of Verdi by Janell Cannon.

S: So can you tell us what this story is about Caramel?

C: A green python that does not want to be green. He is young so he is not green yet. And he does not want to become green, like the other ones. The other greens, he calls them.

S: That sounds interesting. What color is he then?

C: He is yellow. They are actually called green tree pythons. They are green when they are grown up, and they live on trees, so that is why they are called green tree pythons.

S: That is interesting! That Wikipedia article also says they get as long as six feet!

C: Yes. After the story ends, the book has a section on snakes. And you can learn lots of facts there.

S: And I know you like your facts Caramel! So tell me a few of your favorite snake facts from that section in the book.

C: Ok. There are about 2500 species of snakes!

S: That is a lot of snake types. What else?

C: And the biggest snake in the world is 33 feet!

S: That is long! Anyways it is interesting that these green tree pythons are born yellow and then they change into green as they mature. So this Verdi does not want to change. Why do you think that is?

C: Maybe he wants to stay young forever?

S: That sounds likely. He does not think too highly of the other already green ones, right?

C: He thinks they are lazy and boring.

S: And then what happens?

C: And then he turns green anyway.

S: And does he become lazy and boring?

C: No. He is big and green but he makes friends with two yellow snakes and together they jump and make figure eights with each other. It is such a nice book!

S: It is sweet, true. What do you think it all means?

C: I think it means that even if you do not want something to happen to you but if it is a part of your nature, then you will have to go through it anyways.

S: So you might not want to grow up but you will have to some day.

Caramel is rereading his favorite page and looking at his favorite illustration in Verdi by by Janell Cannon.
Caramel is rereading his favorite page and looking at his favorite illustration in Verdi by by Janell Cannon.

C: But it is ok to grow up. He is big and green but still can have fun and friends.

S: Yes, so maybe it is not that bad to grow up after all.

C: But I don’t want to grow up much either. I actually really don’t.

S: Why so?

C: It’s fun being a young bunny.

S: That is true. But there are also a lot of things you can’t do when you are such a young bunny.

C: But do you even remember when you were a young bunny?

S: Of course Caramel. I remember a lot of things. I was frustrated a lot because I couldn’t do everything I wanted to do.

C: Do you remember your school?

S: Yes, I do. I remember many of my friends and my teachers. But let us get back to Verdi. Do you know what Verdi means?

C: Yes, it means green. In Italian I think.

S: Yes, so that is kind of amusing, isn’t it? His name is green, so we could have guessed that he would eventually become green anyways.

C: Yep. But still it’s a nice story. I like reading it.

S: That is great Caramel. So let us wrap this up.

C: Yes! Stay tuned for more book bunnies adventures!

Caramel really enjoyed reading Verdi by by Janell Cannon.
Caramel really enjoyed reading Verdi by by Janell Cannon.

Marshmallow reviews Meanwhile: Pick Any Path by Jason Shiga

About a year ago, Marshmallow reviewed a “choose your own adventure” (CYOA) book: The Sorcerer’s Maze Collection by Blair Polly and DM Potter. Today she shares her thoughts on a 2010 graphic novel, written in a similar manner: Meanwhile: Pick Any Path. 3,856 Story Possibilities, by Jason Shiga.

Marshmallow reviews Meanwhile: Pick Any Path. 3,856 Story Possibilities, by Jason Shiga.
Marshmallow reviews Meanwhile: Pick Any Path. 3,856 Story Possibilities, by Jason Shiga.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take:  If you like Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) books, then this might be the book for you.

Marshmallow’s Summary:  Jimmy’s adventures start with a simple ice cream flavor choice: vanilla or chocolate. One of the two options leads to a short story, and the other leads to an exciting one. Depending on your choices, you end up in different places.

It all begins with a simple decision: Chocolate or Vanilla! Marshmallow reads Meanwhile: Pick Any Path. 3,856 Story Possibilities, by Jason Shiga.
It all begins with a simple decision: Chocolate or Vanilla! Marshmallow reads Meanwhile: Pick Any Path. 3,856 Story Possibilities, by Jason Shiga.

In one path, you come to a place called Kepler Labs, in which your character, Jimmy, asks to go to the bathroom. Then Professor K. asks you (Jimmy) which of his inventions you want to play with. It is your choice and the decision you make can change the story.  

Any choice that you make leads you to a different possibility. One possibility is that you make it home safe and sound. Another is that you end up destroying the world unwillingly. How the story unfolds depends on what path you choose. In the beginning of the book, there is a warning:

“Instead of one story, Meanwhile splits off into thousands of different adventures. Most will lead to DOOM and DISASTER. Only one path will lead to happiness and success.” 

Marshmallow’s Review: This an interesting, different type of Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) book because it is written like a graphic novel. Instead of being labeled by page numbers at the bottom of each page, you are led by a line that takes you from the frame that you are looking at. If the line splits into two, then you are being given the chance to choose. If it leads on the page and onto a flap, then you flip to the flap and continue. 

Because of how it functions differently from other books of its kind, reading Meanwhile can be a little bit confusing at the beginning, but once you get used to things, moving around in the book gets easier. 

Meanwhile is like a game because there are many different solutions (on the title page it says there are 3,856 possibilities–I didn’t count them all). It is fun and gives the reader a chance to change the story unlike other books, especially when the character is making a bad choice and you want to tell them to stop. This is very interesting because when the character makes a bad choice (or you do), then you can go back and fix it. I think that doing that is very fun.

Once you have tried a lot of the possibilities, you can decide to choose only the ones that you liked or try to find the one happy and successful path.

Marshmallow’s Rating: 95%. 

Marshmallow rates Meanwhile: Pick Any Path. 3,856 Story Possibilities, by Jason Shiga 95%.
Marshmallow rates Meanwhile: Pick Any Path. 3,856 Story Possibilities, by Jason Shiga 95%.

Caramel reviews Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

Today Caramel reviews the 1972 classic Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, written by Judith Viorst and illustrated by Ray Cruz. As usual Sprinkles is taking notes and asking followup questions.

Caramel reviews Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, written by Judith Viorst and illustrated by Ray Cruz.
Caramel reviews Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, written by Judith Viorst and illustrated by Ray Cruz.

Sprinkles: Why don’t you start by telling us what this book is about Caramel?

Caramel: There is this boy named Alexander. This day for him is very bad. I read the book a few times, and we also just read it together last night, didn’t we Sprinkles?

S: Yes, we did. So why is Alexander’s day a bad one?

C: It starts out bad.

S: How?

C: He trips on his skateboard, and he had gum in his mouth when he fell asleep, so when he gets up, it is in his hair.

S: That’s terrible!

C: There’s more. His jacket falls into the sink while the water is still running and gets all wet. And then both his brothers get toys from their morning cereal and he only finds cereal in his box. Nothing else.

S: Hmm. That sounds like an unlucky day!

C: Yes, it is very unlucky for him.

S: So the whole book is about this very bad, no good day, right?

C: Yeah. It is sad for him. I sympathize with him.

S: How so?

C: I sometimes have bad days too. Don’t you know that Sprinkles?

S: Of course. We all have bad days sometimes.

C: And his is especially bad. His friends all get nice desserts in their lunch boxes, and he gets nothing for dessert. And his brother makes him fall down in the mud, and when he punches him, he gets caught and his mom scolds him. For being muddy and fighting. I’m mad at his brother, too.

S: Well, you are right. He should not have pushed Alexander into the mud. But you and Marshmallow also fight sometimes, right?

C: But it’s rare. And we never pushed each other into the mud.

S: Hmm. I guess here in this blog we should not admit to too many family secrets.

C: Yes. Family secrets! I like that.

S: Ok, so let us get back to Alexander. I know you actually have some mixed feelings about this book. Can you share a bit?

C: Ok. I’ll share my true feelings about it. I like it and I don’t like it.

S: Can you say a bit more?

C: The reason I don’t like it is because it is sad for him. Alexander really has a really bad day. And I like it because it’s kind of funny.

Caramel is reading Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, written by Judith Viorst and illustrated by Ray Cruz.

S: It is funny, true! And it is actually quite a realistic book, right? We read a lot of books where people always solve all their problems and end up happy and such. But in real life, sometimes things don’t go our way, and for no good reason, and we get frustrated and feel bad.

C: Or mad. Or both at the same time. Which is never the best of feelings.

S: So maybe the book can help a reader feel a bit better if they are having a bad day themselves. What do you think?

C: I think it could help. He is obsessed about Australia.

S: Yes, he wants to drop everything and …

C: And go to Australia!

S: As if that will solve his problems…

C: It won’t. But what if he did go to Australia?

S: well, it would not really have helped. That is what his mom says in the end right?

C: Right. She says some days are really bad, and even in Australia! I don’t really understand why he is so obsessed with Australia though.

S: I guess when he is so frustrated, he wants to get away from his problems, as far as possible. And Australia sounds far…

C: Probably it is. It is far from us! But it is not far for people who are already living in Australia.

S: That’s correct. But as Alexander’s mom says, people in Australia also have bad days.

C: Yes. Everybody has bad days sometimes. So for such days, you can read this book. Or just go to sleep. Like I will do now.

S: Ok, that sounds right to me. Why don’t we wrap this up then?

C: Ok, let’s. Stay tuned for more reviews from the book bunnies!

Caramel recommends Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, written by Judith Viorst and illustrated by Ray Cruz to all the little bunnies who might be having a bad day.
Caramel recommends Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, written by Judith Viorst and illustrated by Ray Cruz to all the little bunnies who might be having a bad day.

Marshmallow reviews The Unofficial Ultimate Harry Potter Spellbook by Media Lab Books

Marshmallow began this blog with a review of Harry Potter and The Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling. So it was only natural that eventually she would come back to one of her favorite fictional worlds: the magical world of Harry Potter. This week she tells us about a fun book she has been carrying around with her for a while now: The Unofficial Ultimate Harry Potter Spellbook: A Complete Guide to Every Spell in the Wizarding World by Media Lab Books.

Marshmallow reviews The Unofficial Ultimate Harry Potter Spellbook: A Complete Guide to Every Spell in the Wizarding World, by Media Lab Books.
Marshmallow reviews The Unofficial Ultimate Harry Potter Spellbook: A Complete Guide to Every Spell in the Wizarding World, by Media Lab Books.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you liked the Harry Potter series, or more generally if you like books about magic, then this might be the book for you.

Marshmallow’s Summary: This is not really a typical book. It is an amazing guide to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Every single spell that you heard in the movies or read about in the books, even the ones that are barely mentioned, are included in this book. It also lists where the spell or charm was used or mentioned, whether in the books, the movies, the video games, or somewhere else.  Each entry describes the gestures you need to perform the spell and how to pronounce the incantation. On top of that, it also has the different wand cores and woods. Also it tells you which wand types the main characters had. It also informs the reader about Enchanted Objects like the Goblet of Fire and Candy. 

The Unofficial Ultimate Harry Potter Spellbook is great for bunnies who want to learn the spells that are used by the wizards and witches in the Harry Potter world. It also teaches the reader more about the World of Harry Potter. My favorite spell in the book is “Dragonifors”.

Dragonifors
Type: Transfiguration
Use: Turns small objects into dragons
Etymology: In Latin, draco means “dragon” and forma means “shape”
Magic Moment: Minerva McGonagall teaches this spell in third-year Transfiguration class
Note: This spell is only seen in the Prisoner of Azkaban video game.
Produces much smaller, less powerful creatures than true dragons.

Marshmallow is reading her favorite spells in The Unofficial Ultimate Harry Potter Spellbook: A Complete Guide to Every Spell in the Wizarding World, by Media Lab Books.
Marshmallow is reading her favorite spells in The Unofficial Ultimate Harry Potter Spellbook: A Complete Guide to Every Spell in the Wizarding World, by Media Lab Books.

Marshmallow’s Review: This is a very good book that is meant for Harry Potter fans. The comments in the book like “Swish and Flick” remind you of the movies. It has every spell and is very interesting to read. The comments on the back are also very interesting.

Who needs The Standard Book of Spells when you have this?

Horace Belby,  former Hogwarts student

The book does not tell us a new story from the Harry Potter world, but it is a book you would expect to see at Hogwarts, similar to the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander (which was of course actually written by J.K. Rowling). This book also contains incantations from that story.

Readers of this blog might recall that my very first review was of Harry Potter and The Cursed Child. So obviously I am a Harry Potter fan. Years ago, I began trying to write a notebook on the Wizarding World. I wrote down a lot of things, but I got stuck on the spells. This book was exactly what I needed!

Marshmallow’s rating: 100%.

Marshmallow rates The Unofficial Ultimate Harry Potter Spellbook: A Complete Guide to Every Spell in the Wizarding World, by Media Lab Books, 100%.
Marshmallow rates The Unofficial Ultimate Harry Potter Spellbook: A Complete Guide to Every Spell in the Wizarding World, by Media Lab Books, 100%.