Marshmallow reviews Half Magic by Edward Eager

This week Marshmallow reviews a 1954 classic, Half Magic by Edward Eager, the first book in his Tales of Magic series.

Marshmallow reviews Half Magic by Edward Eager.
Marshmallow reviews Half Magic by Edward Eager.

Marshmallow’s quick take: If you like books about magical charms, and adventure stories about a handful of siblings, then this might be the book for you.

Marshmallow’s Summary (with spoilers): The four siblings Jane, Mark, Katharine, and Martha are expecting to have a very boring summer. That is until they find the charm. The charm that works by halves. If you made a wish while touching the charm, then half of your wish would come true. So in order to get your whole wish you would have to say it in this fashion. Let’s say you wish is to have a dog appear then you would say that you wanted two dogs to appear because if you wished that one dog would appear then one half of a dog would appear. (You probably wouldn’t want to have half of a dog.)

Wishing for two times some things is a cinch, but other doubled wishes only cause twice as much trouble. What is half of twice a talking cat? Or to be half-again twice not-here? And how do you double your most heartfelt wish, the one you care about so much that it has to be perfect?

The children decide that they will take turns to use the charm. It turns out that other people have knowledge of the charm that grants wishes and they happen to want the charm. In a desert, which they travel to on Mark’s wish — he wants a desert island but the charmed coin takes them to a desert –. a man tries to abduct Jane, Mark, Katharine, and Martha. When he realizes that they have the charm, he says that they stole it from his people. 

On Katharine’s turn to make a wish, they travel into the story of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. They help stop Morgan Le Fay, an evil sorceress in this retelling of the myth, from kidnapping and killing the Knights of the Round Table.

Marshmallow is pointing toward one of her favorite parts of the book, where Jane makes a foolish decision. Here Jane is wishing that she belonged to a different family.
Marshmallow is pointing toward one of her favorite parts of the book, where Jane makes a foolish decision. Here Jane is wishing that she belonged to a different family.

They have some problems though, before they figure out how to use the charm. For instance, Martha wishes that she was not at the place she was and since she didn’t say it the way you need to, she became half there and half not there. The children eventually learn how to use it, and in the end, they have a very exciting summer, not at all the one they thought lay ahead.

Marshmallow’s Review: Half Magic is a classic and I think a great read for all ages. Written in 1954, it successfully entertained children for many years and probably will do the same for many to come. I enjoyed Half Magic very much and look forward to reading more about these characters in Edward Eager’s other novels.

Marshmallow’s rating: 100% 

Marshmallow rates Half Magic by Edward Eager 100%. And she adds: "May the Fourth Be With You!"
Marshmallow rates Half Magic by Edward Eager 100%. And she adds: “May the Fourth Be With You!”

Caramel reviews The Complete Guide to Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Reptiles by Chris McNab

Caramel loves to read books about real things. In his first review of a nonfiction book, he told us about Knights and Castles (Magic Tree House Fact Tracker #2) by Will Osborne and Mary Pope Osborne. Here he shares his enthusiasm about another favorite: The Complete Guide to Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Reptiles by Chris McNab. Sprinkles is taking notes and asking followup questions.

Caramel reviews The Complete Guide to Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Reptiles by Chris McNab.
Caramel reviews The Complete Guide to Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Reptiles by Chris McNab.

Sprinkles: Caramel, you chose a big book for your review this time, right? This is a big format book, quite heavy, too, with 160 pages!

Caramel: Yes! This is a really big book. I have to put it on the ground to read it.

S: It has lots of colorful pictures, right?

C: Yes, including a pachycephalosaurus! Did you know that a pachycephalosaurus is a bonehead?

S: What’s a bonehead?

C: These are dinosaurs that use their heads to fight. They charge each other with their heads and then they bump, crash into each other. Pachycephalosaur means “thick-headed lizard” apparently.

S: That’s weird! What else is in the book?

C: On each page there are lots of dinosaurs and other reptiles. There are crocodiles and flying reptiles. Here is one of my favorites: terrestrisuchus. But I don’t really know how to pronounce it! Anyways the book tells us:

Terrestrisuchus was smaller than Gracilisuchus (about 10 inches tall). Its body was short but its tail was twice the length of its body and head put together. It had long legs and must have sprinted over the dry landscape, snapping up insects and small lizards in its long jaws. It probably ran mostly on four legs, but could have run even faster on just its back legs, using its tail for balance.

S: So dinosaurs and prehistoric reptiles came in all sorts of sizes, right? Which of the bigger dinosaurs do you like most?

C: Other than pachycephalosaurus? Velociraptors! They ran fast! And they had feathers! But they couldn’t fly, so scientists think that they used their feathers to keep warm.

S: So there were flying dinosaurs too?

C: Pteranodon flew of course! But there were also other flying reptiles. Some lizards would glide!

Caramel enjoys reading about dinosaurs in The Complete Guide to Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Reptiles.
Caramel enjoys reading about dinosaurs in The Complete Guide to Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Reptiles.

S: Dinosaurs in this book seem to be all over the world, there were different types of dinosaurs in different places, and they also lived in different times, right?

C: Yes. Scientists think the earth is 4.5 billion years old. And the book starts at the beginning, with life in the seas, then moving on to land.

S: So the book is organized historically. There are about twelve pages about early life and then we begin learning about dinosaurs. Every now and then we look at different geographies. What happens in the end?

C: In the end the dinosaurs went extinct. But scientists don’t really know exactly why and how. It is kind of sad.

S: Yes, it is indeed sad Caramel, but if dinosaurs had not gone extinct, there might not be much room on this planet for us rabbits.

C: Good point! We might not have enough food to go all around for all of us. Still I like to learn about dinosaurs. They are very interesting!

S: Indeed!

Caramel loves reading and looking at the many many pictures in The Complete Guide to Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Reptiles.
Caramel loves reading and looking at the many many pictures in The Complete Guide to Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Reptiles.

Marshmallow reviews How to Steal A Dragon’s Sword (Book #9 of How to Train Your Dragon Series) by Cressida Cowell

Marshmallow and Caramel are both into the How to Train Your Dragon series by Cressida Cowell these days. This week Marshmallow reviews one of her favorites in the series: How to Steal A Dragon’s Sword (Book 9).

Marshmallow reviews How To Steal A Dragon's Sword (Book 9 of the How to Train Your Dragon series) by Cressida Cowell.
Marshmallow reviews How To Steal A Dragon’s Sword (Book 9 of the How to Train Your Dragon series) by Cressida Cowell.

Marshmallow’s quick take: If you like books about dragons and Vikings then this might be the book for you. 

Marshmallow’s Summary (with spoilers): Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third, heir to the Throne of the Hairy Hooligans is not what you would expect a Hero to be like. He is very bad at almost everything and even worse, his cousin, Snotlout, a big bully whose main victim is Hiccup, is good at everything. Hiccup’s only talent is sword fighting and he is a complete catastrophe in everything else. Hiccup’s best friend, Fishlegs, is not any better than Hiccup is, he is worse. Hiccup and Fishlegs are both basically an embarrassment to the Hairy Hooligan tribe. But Hiccup does have a talent for coming up with “fiendishly clever plans”. 

In the second book of the series, How to Be A Pirate, Hiccup makes an enemy named Alvin the Treacherous who will try to kill Hiccup and become king of the Wilderwest. Even though the reader can tell that the obvious king of the Wilderwest is Hiccup, the Vikings are not sure that he is the king of the Wilderwest. Alvin the Treacherous and his mother, a witch named Excellinor, have been trying to kill Hiccup for the past few years. If Alvin became king, he would try to kill all the dragons instead of trying to negotiate with them. 

It just so happens that in the eighth book of the series, How to Break A Dragon’s Heart, Hiccup releases a dragon named Furious who hates all humans (because he had a bad relationship with a human) and so is now out to find and kill all humans and for once and for all exterminate all humans. So now in this ninth book of the series, not only Alvin the Treacherous is out to kill Hiccup but there is also Furious’ rebellion, called the Red Rage, to deal with. The only person who can save the human race is the king of the Wilderwest.

To determine who is the king of the Wilderwest, the witch Excellinor challenges everyone to have a sword fighting competition. The king of the Wilderwest will save them from the terrible rebellion of dragons who are trying to kill all people, children and adults alike. 

Marshmallow's favorite page of How To Steal A Dragon's Sword.
Marshmallow’s favorite page of How To Steal A Dragon’s Sword.

Hiccup wins the sword fighting competition. He gets first place, his father gets the second, and Alvin the Treacherous gets the third place. Hiccup then is crowned king but then the witch Excellinor reveals the Slavemark that the Wanderers stamped him with. The Slavemark is the ultimate mark of shame and so he is eliminated and the witch says that Hiccup’s father should be eliminated too because he is Hiccup’s father and so Alvin the Treacherous is crowned King of the Wilderwest. How will Hiccup stop Alvin from trying to kill all dragons?      

Marshmallow’s Review: The book How to Steal a Dragon’s Sword(#9) is a very good book that makes you want to read the tenth book of the series. Of course you might want to read the previous eight books of the series first. But you might still enjoy this one even if it is the first How To Train Your Dragon book you ever read. The cliffhanger at the end is infuriating and makes you need to know what happens next. The author wrote a book which is a very funny read that everyone will enjoy. 

Marshmallow’s rating: 95% 

Marshmallow rates How To Steal A Dragon's Sword 95%.
Marshmallow rates How To Steal A Dragon’s Sword 95%.

Caramel reviews Penguin and Pinecone: A Friendship Story by Salina Yoon

Caramel is already reading some chapter books, but he still loves picture books (even though last week he just reviewed a book that has no pictures!) This week he reviews one of his favorites: Penguin and Pinecone: A Friendship Story by Salina Yoon. Sprinkles is taking notes and asking followup questions as usual.

Caramel reviews Penguin and Pinecone: A Friendship Story by Salina Yoon.
Caramel reviews Penguin and Pinecone: A Friendship Story by Salina Yoon.

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

Caramel: It’s a friendship story and I really like it.

S: What is it about exactly?

C: There is a penguin who finds a pinecone, and asks his grandpa what is wrong with him. His grandpa says it’s too cold for the pinecone.

“It’s too cold here,” said Grandpa. “Pinecone belongs in the forest far, far away. He can’t grow big and strong on the ice.”

So then Penguin takes the pinecone to the forest. He sets off on a journey.

S: That sounds sophisticated Caramel! And very funny. You like to use such phrases! Ok, then what happens?

C: He leaves the pinecone in a special place in the forest, on a bed he makes.

Penguin made a cozy nest out of the softest pine needles he could find.

S: So where is the friendship?

C: At the beginning of the story where Penguin finds Pinecone, they become friends. They play together, so much!

S: He even knits a scarf for the pinecone, doesn’t he?

C: Yes. I’m going to look at that page again. Hmm, that’s cool! Penguin knits an orange scarf for Pinecone. He has an orange scarf himself.

S: So now both friends have matching scarves, that’s cool! Do you ever wear matching things with friends?

C: Let me think. Sometimes I wear matching things with Marshmallow!

S: That’s right! Ok, let’s get back to the book. So Penguin takes Pinecone to the forest but then the forest is too hot for him. So he has to go back home, right?

C: Yeah. But then he misses Pinecone. And then he goes back to find him.

S: Does he find him?

C: Yup, but I won’t tell you the big awesome surprise! At least a surprise for Penguin!

S: Yes, that part is really neat. I wonder if our readers can guess what happens in the end… But we can probably give away the main moral of the story, right? It’s all the way at the end…

C: Yes!

S: So what is the moral Caramel?

C: Ok, I will read it:

When you give love … it grows.

S: That is a sweet idea, isn’t it?

C: It is a sweet story! Actually it’s an awesome story!

S: I know. You have read it several times already, no?

C: I have no idea how many times I have read it really.

S: So you recommend this book?

C: If I were Marshmallow I’d give it 100%!

Caramel loves reading and rereading Penguin and Pinecone: A Friendship Story by Salina Yoon.
Caramel loves reading and rereading Penguin and Pinecone: A Friendship Story by Salina Yoon.