Caramel reviews Engineering: An Illustrated History from Ancient Craft to Modern Technology, edited by Tom Jackson

Caramel loves to read and review books which are about real things, see his reviews of books on samurai, dinosaurs, knights and castles, and dental health . He also loves building and making things. So it was only natural that when he discovered Engineering: An Illustrated History from Ancient Craft to Modern Technology, edited by Tom Jackson, in the book bunnies’ home library, he had to read it immediately. Below he shares some of his thoughts on this reference text. Sprinkles is taking notes as usual and asking followup questions.

Caramel reviews Engineering: An Illustrated History from Ancient Craft to Modern Technology, edited by Tom Jackson.
Caramel reviews Engineering: An Illustrated History from Ancient Craft to Modern Technology, edited by Tom Jackson.

Sprinkles: How should we start this review Caramel?

Caramel: You just did!

S: Yeah, I did, didn’t I? So what next? What do you want to say about this book?

C: It’s a good book. If you are a bunny who wants to be an engineer when you grow up, this might be the book for you.

S: Why do you say that?

C: The book has a bunch of engineering examples.

S: Yes, the back cover advertises “100 achievements that changed history”. So there are 100 different engineering-related entries in the book, going more or less in chronological order. That means they are listed from the oldest to the newest. Can you tell us a few of your favorites?

C: 65 is Jet Power and it is one of my favorites. But my favorite in the whole book is 73: SR-71 Blackbird.

S: What is that?

C: It’s a spy plane.

S: What does that mean?

C: It means they spy on the enemy. It says it is radar-absorbing, which makes it harder to detect. I also like 82: Stealth Plane, a lot.

Caramel is pointing at one of his favorite entries in Engineering: An Illustrated History from Ancient Craft to Modern Technology: Stealth Planes.

C: And there is 75: Apollo Spacecraft. The NASA program for it was launched in 1961, it says.

S: And there is more information on it on Wikipedia in case others are interested. So each of these entries is about one page, right?

C: Yes. Exactly one page. And there are pictures and I like looking at them. 

S: Then there is text, describing the entry, and telling some of its history, right?

C: Yes. 

S: So what is the first entry?

C: Let me see. First there is some stuff about engineering and applied science. Then they start with 1: Stone Technology. And 2 is Taming Fire. 3 is The First Boats

S: Wow! It goes way back! So how far back does it go?

C: It goes way back. Let me read the beginning of 1 to you:

“Engineering with stone technology is older than the human race. Distant ancestors of homo sapiens (modern humans) began making and using stone tools as long as 3.3 million years ago.”

S: That is a long time ago. To compare, do you remember how long ago the dinosaurs went extinct? 

C: About sixty-five million years ago. I already reviewed a book about them!

S: So dinosaurs were around even earlier. 

C: That’s for sure. 

S: So what is the last achievement they list in the book?

C: 100 is Solar Power. Then there is a long section called Engineering 101: The Basics.

S: What’s in that section? 

C: There is a part named Imponderables where they ask questions like: “Will space planes change transportation?”, “What will graphene do for us?”, “Will we run out of raw materials?”, “Can engineering solve climate change?”, “Can screens replace paper?”

S: Very interesting questions. The one about screens and paper is about books and reading, I think. We still love reading paper books, right?

C: Yes. This book for instance. It has lots of colorful pictures I can look at. 

S: Screens could have colored pictures, too, of course, but holding a book in your paws is a neat experience. So are we done with the review? 

C: Yes. Stay tuned for more Book Bunnies adventures!

Caramel really enjoys reading sections from Engineering: An Illustrated History from Ancient Craft to Modern Technology, edited by Tom Jackson.
Caramel really enjoys reading sections from Engineering: An Illustrated History from Ancient Craft to Modern Technology, edited by Tom Jackson.

Marshmallow reviews Ivy and Bean Make the Rules by Annie Barrows (Book 9 of the Ivy + Bean Series)

Marshmallow has enjoyed reading the Ivy + Bean series written by Annie Barrows and illustrated by Sophie Blackall for a few years now. Below she shares some thoughts on the ninth book and her favorite in the series: Ivy and Bean Make the Rules. Sprinkles is taking notes and asking some followup questions.

Marshmallow reviews Ivy and Bean Make the Rules (Book 9 of the Ivy + Bean series) written by Annie Barrows and illustrated by Sophie Blackall.
Marshmallow reviews Ivy and Bean Make the Rules (Book 9 of the Ivy + Bean series) written by Annie Barrows and illustrated by Sophie Blackall.

Sprinkles: You wanted to talk about Ivy and Bean today, right, Marshmallow?

Marshmallow: Yes. 

S: So what do you want to tell us about these books? 

M: I like reading these books. I also like the fact that Ivy and Bean actually think like kids, and Bean has reactions that I can relate to. Some books are about kids but the characters in them do not always behave or think like kids. Bean and Ivy are a lot more real, a lot more like kids. 

S: So then tell us a bit about Ivy and Bean. Who are they? 

M: Bean is a girl who has an annoying older sister. 

S: So kind of like Ramona the Pest, no?

M: No, not quite. Ramona’s sister is annoying in a different way. But honestly, I have no experience about having an annoying big sister. Anyways, Bean is a little wild, she is sometimes herself annoying. 

S: And what about Ivy?

M: Ivy is an only child, and she is a bit calmer, and she is smarter. She also wants to be a witch when she grows up.

S: That sounds like a good match. So how old are they?

M: They’re about seven years old. 

S: So do you think this book series would be a good fit for new readers of age 5-7? 

M: Yes. 

S: And you are still reading them too. What can big kids get out of these books?

M: The books are really funny, and they make me laugh.

S: Even though you have read them several times before. I read them too and I remember them as being really funny. The girls sometimes come up with ridiculous ideas. So tell us about what happens in the ninth book of the series, Ivy and Bean Make the Rules

M: It’s about how Bean’s sister Nancy is going to this camp called Girl Power 4Ever, and Bean wants to go but she doesn’t want Nancy to know. And she can’t go anyways, you have to be 11 to go. Then she decides to build a tree house. She can’t though, because she doesn’t have nails. And then she uses duct tape. 

Marshmallow is pointing at the pages in Ivy and Bean Make the Rules where Bean is planning to make her tree house.
Marshmallow is pointing at the pages in Ivy and Bean Make the Rules where Bean is planning to make her tree house.

S: That sounds hilarious. So when does Ivy come into the picture?

M: She sneaks up on Bean as Bean is working on her tree house. Then Bean decides her tree house is stupid and wants to do nature study and crafts. Ivy says we can make our own camp, and so they do. 

S: Ok, so they decide to start their own camp. How does that go?

M: They go spy on Nancy’s camp to get some ideas, and they find some kids, and they start doing some crafts and some more absurd stuff. They also set some silly rules. 

S: What kinds of rules?

M: Let me find some for you from the book:

“Rule number one!” said Bean. “You can only have as much fun as you are willing to get hurt!”
“Rule two!” said Ivy. “Live and learn!” Her mother said that a lot. 
“Rule three!” yelled Bean. “The counselor is always right!”

S: None of this sounds like a very good idea. 

M: There are even more, look:

Ivy began to giggle. “Rule four! If you want to make an omelet, you’re going to have to break some eggs.”
“If you can’t beat’em, join’em!” bellowed Bean.
“Don’t get mad, get even!” yelled Ivy. 
“I don’t think this is a real camp,” said Frannie. 

Marshmallow is pointing at the pages in Ivy and Bean Make the Rules where the two girls are listing the rules of their camp, Camp Flaming Arrow.
Marshmallow is pointing at the pages in Ivy and Bean Make the Rules where the two girls are listing the rules of their camp, Camp Flaming Arrow.

S: These sound quite random and not terribly safe. 

M: They are not great rules to follow, like the fifth rule is not quite a good idea: “Don’t get mad, get even.”

S: Well, Caramel reviewed a book about training an angry dragon, so maybe they should have read that book! Getting mad is not very helpful is it? Ok, what else do you want to say about this book? Why did you choose this one to talk about?

M: This is the funniest one of the ten. I like reading out some parts, they are so funny.

S: This is the ninth book, though. Do you think someone could jump in and read this one before reading the previous eight books? 

M: Sure, they can still enjoy it, but it might be better if they start from the beginning. If you do that, you know the past stories about how successful Ivy has been in becoming a witch for instance.

S: And that kind of knowledge about the characters’ back stories enriches the experience of reading this book, I agree. And it is about time to wrap up this review. Is there anything else you would like to say to our readers? 

M: Yes! Stay tuned for more Book Bunnies reviews.

Marshmallow continues to enjoy reading Ivy and Bean Make the Rules (Book 9 of the Ivy + Bean series) written by Annie Barrows and illustrated by Sophie Blackall.
Marshmallow continues to enjoy reading Ivy and Bean Make the Rules (Book 9 of the Ivy + Bean series) written by Annie Barrows and illustrated by Sophie Blackall.

Caramel reviews My Teacher is a Robot by Jeffrey Brown

Caramel is going to have a new teacher this school year, and so Sprinkles thought he might find it amusing to read about a little boy who thinks his teacher is a robot. Below Caramel talks about his thoughts on My Teacher is a Robot by Jeffrey Brown. As usual Sprinkles is taking notes and asking followup questions.

Caramel reviews My Teacher is a Robot by Jeffrey Brown.
Caramel reviews My Teacher is a Robot by Jeffrey Brown.

Sprinkles: I thought you might find this book about a little boy and his teacher amusing Caramel.

Caramel: Yes. I did find it fun to read. It was funny.

S: What is it about?

C: A little boy named Fred and his teacher Mr. Bailey.

S: So what happens to Fred and Mr. Bailey?

C: Fred keeps thinking that Mr. Bailey is a robot.

S: Why?

C: I don’t know.

S: Does Mr. Bailey look like a robot?

C: No but they can make robots that look like humans.

S: Ok, so what about Mr. Bailey makes Fred concerned?

C: I don’t know really.

S: I guess Fred likes to live in an imaginary world, doesn’t he?

C: Yes. This imaginary world is super duper funny. For example, when Mr. Bailey tells them it’s time for history, Fred gets excited and imagines the class pet gold fish is a pre-historic sea creature.

S: Yes, that part is exceptionally funny, right? When Mr. Bailey says history, Fred thinks maybe they’ll talk about dinosaurs. Do they?

C: No. They do the history of Japan.

S: You know some things about the history of Japan, don’t you Caramel?

C: Yep. I even reviewed a book about samurai on this blog.

S: Yes, that was a neat book and a neat review. So when they are talking about Japan, what happens to the classroom?

C: The kids do all sorts of things about Japan. Two of them do a tea ceremony. Then there is a cherry blossom tree and a samurai, and a sumo wrestler. Or at least a kid named Scooter who says:

Who wants to sumo wrestle?

S: And the whole room transforms, right? Do you think there is an actual cherry tree in the classroom?

C: No, I think it’s all stuff Fred is imagining.

S: Or maybe Fred and his classmates all together, right? There is a little girl (I think her name is Charlotte) sitting in the middle of a sand meditation garden. Do you think that that meditation garden is really in the classroom?

C: No. Of course not.

S: Do you think Charlotte is really riding a unicorn at the very end and the mud monsters are really attacking the kids when they’re in the playground?

C: No! They are all pretend. But they could actually have made the mud monsters themselves, right?

S: Yeah, that’s true.

Caramel is looking at one of the fun pages in My Teacher is a Robot where the kids are all in the school playground and are being attacked by the mud monsters.
Caramel is looking at one of the fun pages in My Teacher is a Robot where the kids are all in the school playground and are being attacked by the mud monsters.

S: So do you think Mr. Bailey is really a robot?

C: No. I don’t think so.

S: Well maybe that’s just another way Fred makes his life more interesting. If your teacher is a robot, then school becomes a bit more ….

C: Interesting! But I’m not sure I want my teacher to be a robot.

S: I’m quite sure you do not have to worry about that. You’re meeting your new teacher very soon, right?

C: Yes. I already know her name, but I don’t know much else about her.

S: Well, I think you at least know she’s not a robot.

C: Actually I don’t. Eek!

S: Ok, Caramel. How about we wrap up this review here and then you report back when you figure it all out and tell us if your new teacher is a robot or not?

C: Ok. Stay tuned for more book bunny adventures!

P.S. added August 29 2019: Caramel is happy to report that no, his new teacher is not a robot, and is in fact a really nice person.

Caramel enjoyed reading My Teacher is a Robot by Jeffrey Brown.
Caramel enjoyed reading My Teacher is a Robot by Jeffrey Brown.

Marshmallow reviews The Lost Girl by Anne Ursu

Marshmallow recently got her paws on Anne Ursu’s recent book The Lost Girl, and finished it in two days. Below she shares some of her thoughts on the book.

Marshmallow reviews The Lost Girl by Anne Ursu.
Marshmallow reviews The Lost Girl by Anne Ursu.

Marshmallow’s quick take: If you like books that are about mystery and friendship, then this might be for you. 

Marshmallow’s Summary (with spoilers): Let me start with the publisher’s synopsis: 

“When you are an identical twin, your story always starts with someone else. For Iris, that means her story starts with Lark. Iris has always been the grounded, capable, and rational one; Lark is inventive, dreamy, and brilliant–and from their first moments in the world together, they’ve never left each other’s side. Everyone around them realized early on what the two sisters already knew: they had better outcomes when they were together.”

This already tells you that the book is about twins Iris and Lark. We know that they complement each other. A big problem that they face in the book is that the adults in their lives think it might be better for them to be separate for a while. This is a big deal and shakes both girls up a lot. This is one of the two main threads in the book.

The second thread is about a mysterious store. Before fifth grade starts, a small odd shop named Treasure Hunters opens in their town. Right outside the shop is a sign that says:

WE ARE HERE.”

Iris and Lark go in the store, and inside they meet a man that Iris thinks looks like a mole. Iris asks him about the sign. The man asks if they believe in keeping their promise. They say that they do. The man acts as if that answered their question.

Then later, they learn about their class assignments. For the first time they are going to be in different classes: Iris has Mrs. Shonubi and Lark has Mr. Hunt. The girls think that Mr. Hunt is a mean teacher, “an ogre”, they think. (Actually they think he is a real ogre, the mythical one.)

The girls soon realize that the sign next to the new shop no longer says, “WE ARE HERE.” The sign now says,

ARE YOU?

The girls are startled and think that it is a peculiar way of advertising. As their school starts the sign changes again and this time says

ALICE, WHERE ARE YOU?

Iris enters the store to ask who Alice is. The man seems reluctant but eventually says that Alice was his sister. Iris asks what happened to her and the man says that she just disappeared. He looks very sad.

Alice is not the only person or thing that disappears however. The famous Spoonbridge and Cherry in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden also disappears. So does a beluga named Peanut and the sulu bleeding heart specimen. Some items in Iris and Lark’s home also go missing: Lark’s bracelet, a doll named Baby Thing, Lark’s beanbag cat named Esmerelda, and a figure of an ogre. Where do all these go? Find out in The Lost Girl.  

Marshmallow is pointing at a picture from the book, but do not look too carefully if you don't want any further spoilers!
Marshmallow is pointing at a picture from the book, but do not look too carefully if you don’t want any further spoilers!

Marshmallow’s review: This is a very interesting book that has an intriguing plot. It is a little creepy, so it is for ages eight and up. There is a very interesting twist toward the end and the bad guy turns out to be someone that is unexpected.

This is a book that is about friendship. It is a mix between creepy, mystery, and friendship. Iris unwillingly goes to a camp for girls and finds that friendship between girls can be empowering, despite her original cynicism.

The plot is intricate, and everything fits together, just like in Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, though if you are not careful or if you read it too fast, in the end it might get a little bit confusing. But all in all it is well planned and it is evident that the author planned everything out and left clues for the reader.

Marshmallow’s rating: 95%

Marshmallow rates The Lost Girl by Anne Ursu 95%.
Marshmallow rates The Lost Girl by Anne Ursu 95%.