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%.

Caramel reviews Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

Caramel’s class has been reading E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web. Quite reasonably, they have been pacing their way through the book, but Caramel just could not wait and is already done with the reading. Today he shares his thoughts on this 1952 classic. As usual, Sprinkles is taking notes and asking questions.

Caramel reviews Charlotte's Web, a classic from 1952, written by E.B. White and illustrated by Garth Williams.
Caramel reviews Charlotte’s Web, a classic from 1952, written by E.B. White and illustrated by Garth Williams.

Sprinkles: So Caramel, tell me about this book.

Caramel: This book is about animals living in a farm. The main character is Wilbur, he is a pig. In the first chapter he is just born, and the farmer is getting ready to kill Wilbur because he is the smallest one in the litter. That’s called a runt. That’s very mean, right?

S: Why do you say that?

C: The pig is born and they should not kill him.

S: I see. I agree. But I am guessing the farmer is thinking more like how things are in nature, where the weakest and the smallest in a litter will not usually survive.

C: Yes, but later in the book Wilbur does grow and get much bigger.

S: So the farmer decides not to kill him after all?

C: Yes, the farmer’s daughter Fern stops him.

S: So tell me more. The book title involves someone named Charlotte. Who is that?

C: She is a spider.

S: Is she Wilbur’s friend?

C: Yes, she becomes Wilbur’s friend when he moves into the Zuckerman barn. Zuckerman is Fern’s uncle but he is not very nice. Zucker means sugar in German, you told me, but this Zuckerman is not very sweet.

S: I see. Maybe that is why the author chose that name. But why is the book titled Charlotte’s Web if the main character is the pig?

C: Charlotte does save Wilbur’s life multiple times, and she is very important to him. They are best friends and Wilbur learns a lot from her.

Caramel is pointing to the page where Wilbur the pig meets Charlotte the spider in Charlotte's Web, written by E.B. White and illustrated by Garth Williams.
Caramel is pointing to the page where Wilbur the pig meets Charlotte the spider in Charlotte’s Web, written by E.B. White and illustrated by Garth Williams.

S: As you know, I did not grow up in this country, and so this book was not on my reading list at school. When I learned about it, I was already an adult. But I also learned that the book was rather sad, so I never read it.

C: That’s an understatement. It is really really sad.

S: Okay, I won’t ask you why it is sad because I think I actually know. But I also know that you don’t usually like sad books. Did you like Charlotte’s Web?

C: Yes! It might be the only sad book I actually liked.

S: Oh? Why did you like it?

C: The story is really interesting, and I liked Wilbur. He is funny and very likeable. And I also liked Charlotte. She is wise and also very nice.

S: I know you like fiction involving animal characters. You already reviewed a whole lot of them, like Poppy about a mouse and her adventures, The Mouse and the Motorcycle about another mouse and his adventures, and Verdi about a snake. Do Wilbur and Charlotte have some interesting adventures too?

C: Oh yes! They go to the fair, and Charlotte makes an egg sack at the fair. She puts a lot of eggs in it. Let me check. 514 spider eggs.

S: That is a lot of eggs! So the book is fun and joyful to read except the sad parts?

C: Yes.

S: So which three words would you use to describe the book?

C: Sweet, happy and sad. Because it is really sweet and happy until it is sad. But then it is happy again, sort of.

S: Hmm, maybe I should read it after all. Would you recommend it?

C: Yep. But you will have to wait for Marshmallow to finish it first.

S: Hmm, I see I have competition. Okay, I guess I will wait. But at least now, after all these years, I know I should read Charlotte’s Web. In the meantime, let us wrap up our review. What do you want to tell our readers?

C: Stay tuned for more book bunny reviews!

Caramel has enjoyed reading Charlotte's Web, written by E.B. White and illustrated by Garth Williams, and recommends it strongly. He already convinced both Marshmallow and Sprinkles to read the book.
Caramel has enjoyed reading Charlotte’s Web, written by E.B. White and illustrated by Garth Williams, and recommends it strongly. He already convinced both Marshmallow and Sprinkles to read the book.

Marshmallow reviews Getting Things Done for Teens by David Allen, Mike Williams, and Mark Wallace

Marshmallow has always been a curious little bunny. She has always been eager to learn about the world as well as about how our minds work. Recently she got her paws on a book for teens, written by David Allen, the David Allen, of GTD fame, together with Mike Williams and Mark Wallace, about the way our minds work and about how to build a fulfilling life in a world full of distractions: Getting Things Done For Teens: Take Control of Your Life in a Distracting World. Though she is not yet a teen, Marshmallow found this book extremely interesting and eye-opening. Below is her review of this neat little book, perfect for teens and tweens as well as the adults in their lives.

Marshmallow reviews Getting Things Done For Teens: Take Control of Your Life in a Distracting World, written by David Allen, Mike Williams, and Mark Wallace.
Marshmallow reviews Getting Things Done For Teens: Take Control of Your Life in a Distracting World, written by David Allen, Mike Williams, and Mark Wallace.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like how-to books or books about time management, organization, and self-improvement, or if you want to understand how your mind works and how to take control of your life, then this might just be the book for you.

Marshmallow’s Overview: Getting Things Done for Teens: Take Control of Your Life in a Distracting World is non-fiction, and it aims to teach the reader literally how to take control of their work and/or life. There are two main characters in the book: Cortland, an owl who represents the prefrontal cortex, and Myggy, a monkey who represents the amygdala. Like the prefrontal cortex, Cortland is slower and more thoughtful than Myggy. Myggy, on the other hand, is quick and makes decisions without a lot of thought. The book starts with an overview of how these two parts of the brain help us make decisions, and then introduces the basic features of the Getting Things Done perspective on living a life.

Marshmallow is reading Getting Things Done For Teens: Take Control of Your Life in a Distracting World, written by David Allen, Mike Williams, and Mark Wallace. Here she is looking at the page about "open loops", the things your mind feels like it needs to keep track of unless you resolve the issue about them or at least record them somewhere so you know you will get back to them later.
Marshmallow is reading Getting Things Done For Teens: Take Control of Your Life in a Distracting World, written by David Allen, Mike Williams, and Mark Wallace. Here she is looking at the page about what you need to do about “open loops”, the things your mind feels like it needs to keep track of unless you resolve the issue about them or at least record them somewhere so you know you will get back to them later.

The quick summary is that the book helps teenager bunnies organize their work and how to get their lives in order. It does this by teaching the reader how to deal with “stuff” in their minds. Some examples of “stuff” that one might need to deal with are classes, homework, bullying, college applications, and parent pressure.  

Marshmallow’s Review: This is a great book for bunnies that want to be better at organizing their life or work. There is a lot of information and useful advice packed into the book. But it does not get boring because the tone is light and humorous. Scenarios used to explain things are all realistic. There are helpful graphs, for example about stress and about things teens worry about. Also there are pictures on basically every other page. The illustrations of Cortland and Myggy, especially, are everywhere and keep reminding you of how your mind works in different ways.

There are also inspiring quotes sprinkled throughout. One of the quotes I really liked is:

“I don’t want other people to decide who I am. I want to decide that for myself.”

Emma Watson
Marshmallow is reading Getting Things Done For Teens: Take Control of Your Life in a Distracting World, written by David Allen, Mike Williams, and Mark Wallace. Here she is looking at the page about the "someday / maybe" list, a list that you can put things that you want to do some day but maybe it is not yet time to work towards them.
Marshmallow is reading Getting Things Done For Teens: Take Control of Your Life in a Distracting World, written by David Allen, Mike Williams, and Mark Wallace. Here she is looking at the page about the “someday / maybe” list, a list that you can put things that you want to do some day but maybe it is not yet time to work towards them.

Though Getting Things Done For Teens: Take Control of Your Life in a Distracting World has ideas that can be useful for everyone, I think it might be best for 9 and up. One of the reasons is because Myggy sometimes uses informal (and for some, inappropriate) words, but also because the methods might confuse younger bunnies. And younger bunnies might have fewer things that they can control in their lives and fewer things to have to worry about. In the other direction, Sprinkles told me that she thinks the book could help grownup bunnies, too. She thinks that this book does a great job explaining how the mind works and how this knowledge can help us organize our work so that our lives become much more manageable and enjoyable.

Marshmallow’s Rating: 100%.

Marshmallow rated Getting Things Done For Teens: Take Control of Your Life in a Distracting World, written by David Allen, Mike Williams, and Mark Wallace 100%, and recommends it highly.
Marshmallow rated Getting Things Done For Teens: Take Control of Your Life in a Distracting World, written by David Allen, Mike Williams, and Mark Wallace 100%, and recommends it highly.

Caramel reviews It’s Alive: From Neurons and Narwhals to the Fungus Among Us by Molly Bloom, Marc Sanchez, and Sanden Totten

The book bunnies are fans of Brains On!, a science podcast directed toward young bunnies but, at least in our household, also much appreciated by the older set. When we heard that the amazing Brains On! team, made up of Molly Bloom, Marc Sanchez, and Sanden Totten, had published a science book together, we knew we all had to read it. Today Caramel reviews this book: It’s Alive: From Neurons and Narwhals to the Fungus Among Us. As usual, Sprinkles is taking notes and asking followup questions.

Caramel reviews the Brains On! book It's Alive: From Neurons and Narwhals to the Fungus Among Us, by Molly Bloom, Marc Sanchez, and Sanden Totten.
Caramel reviews the Brains On! book It’s Alive: From Neurons and Narwhals to the Fungus Among Us, by Molly Bloom, Marc Sanchez, and Sanden Totten.

Sprinkles: So Caramel, this book is right up your alley, right?

Caramel: Yep. It’s full of fun facts, and illustrations are awesome!

S: I know! It is so colorful! So tell me what the general theme of the book is. What is the book about?

C: It’s about science. There are all sorts of facts about all sorts of living things. There is a part about animals, one about plants, one about humans, and another about microorganisms.

S: That sounds cool! So tell me about your favorite animal fact you learned from this book.

C: There are so many, I can’t choose.

S: Give me one or two then…

C: Okay, let me try. I like the Animal Superpowers part a lot.

Caramel is reading the Brains On! book It's Alive: From Neurons and Narwhals to the Fungus Among Us, by Molly Bloom, Marc Sanchez, and Sanden Totten. Here he is checking out the section on Animal Superpowers.
Caramel is reading the Brains On! book It’s Alive: From Neurons and Narwhals to the Fungus Among Us, by Molly Bloom, Marc Sanchez, and Sanden Totten. Here he is checking out the section on Animal Superpowers.

S: That sounds interesting! What kinds of superpowers?

C: There are super-healers for example. Did you know that the axolotl can regrow part of its missing limbs, and even its brain? It is cool, isn’t it?

S: That is really cool, you are right! And that is one cute animal I had not heard about before! Here is a picture from Wikipedia if people want to see one:

An axolotl in captivity, image by th1098, taken from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axolotl#/media/File:AxolotlBE.jpg
An axolotl in captivity, image by th1098, taken from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axolotl#/media/File:AxolotlBE.jpg

S: So would you like to have such a super power, Caramel?

C: Yes, being able to regrow limbs would be awesome!

S: So then how about the plants? Tell me a favorite fact you learned from this book about plants.

C: Shall we visit the Tree Hall of Fame?

S: Okay…

C: The tallest tree is a redwood tree named Hyperion. It is 380 ft tall. That is taller than the Statue of Liberty!

S: Wow! That is tall!

C: It is in Redwood National Park, in California, but the scientists are keeping its exact location secret.

Caramel is reading the Brains On! book It's Alive: From Neurons and Narwhals to the Fungus Among Us, by Molly Bloom, Marc Sanchez, and Sanden Totten. Here he is looking at the section on "the rose that went to space".
Caramel is reading the Brains On! book It’s Alive: From Neurons and Narwhals to the Fungus Among Us, by Molly Bloom, Marc Sanchez, and Sanden Totten. Here he is looking at the section on “the rose that went to space”.

S: The book sounds really packed full of interesting facts Caramel. Just perfect for you!

C: Yep. Exactly. I recommend that you read it too.

S: Yes, I will definitely do that after this review. I can’t wait!

C: But you have to wait! Because I need to tell you about the Mega Matchups!

S: What’s that?

C: There are parts in the book where they compare two things. Like there is one where they pit dogs against cats. I think there is one in each part. Wait, there is the octopuses vs the dolphins. So that is at least two in animals. And then there is another matching porcupine caribou against monarch butterflies.

S: Wait. How do those two compare? Why are they even pitted against one another?

C: It seems random till you read it. These are two creatures that are “long-distance travelers that travel thousands of miles without a map or a compass.”

S: I see. This matchup idea is like the Smash-Boom-Best segment the Brains On! folks used to do sometimes in their podcasts. Did you know that that eventually became its own podcast?

C: No I didn’t know that. Then again I think Marshmallow listened to an episode for her class one time.

S: Yes, I remember. It was pizza vs tacos I think.

C: I think pizza wins for me!

S: I think they both have their time and place.

C: True. Wait, here is another matchup. The durian vs the corpse flower. They’re both stinky! A corpse flower apparently smells like, well, a corpse.

S: I know durian. I ate durian ice cream once. Did you know that?

C: Nope.

S: It tasted like vanilla ice cream, but with a terribly strong garlicky, or onion-y aftertaste.

C: That does not sound too appetizing.

S: I know.

Caramel is reading the Brains On! book It's Alive: From Neurons and Narwhals to the Fungus Among Us, by Molly Bloom, Marc Sanchez, and Sanden Totten. Here he is looking over the "Mega Matchup: Tardigrade vs. Slime Mold".
Caramel is reading the Brains On! book It’s Alive: From Neurons and Narwhals to the Fungus Among Us, by Molly Bloom, Marc Sanchez, and Sanden Totten. Here he is looking over the “Mega Matchup: Tardigrade vs. Slime Mold”.

S: So this review is already quite long. Let us wrap it up. What three words would you use to describe this book to someone who is interested in learning about it?

C: Factful, interesting, and very colorful.

S: I agree with all of those Caramel, even before I got to read it fully. I think I’d also add “very fun” to the list.

C: Yes, it is really fun and funny too.

S: Great! So we are done. What do you say to our readers?

C: Stay tuned for more book bunny reviews!

Caramel loved reading the Brains On! book It's Alive: From Neurons and Narwhals to the Fungus Among Us, by Molly Bloom, Marc Sanchez, and Sanden Totten, and cannot wait to share all his new facts with friends and family.
Caramel loved reading the Brains On! book It’s Alive: From Neurons and Narwhals to the Fungus Among Us, by Molly Bloom, Marc Sanchez, and Sanden Totten, and cannot wait to share all his new facts with friends and family.