Marshmallow reviews The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Today Marshmallow reviews a classic: The Hobbit: or There and Back Again, by J.R.R. Tolkien, first published in 1937.

Marshmallow reviews The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.
Marshmallow reviews The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like fantasy, magic, or quests that take place in a fantastic alternative world, then this might be the book for you.

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): Bilbo Baggins is a respectable hobbit who never goes on any adventures, until now. One day, an elderly traveler comes to Bilbo’s hobbit hole, and says that he is looking for someone to share an adventure with. Bilbo thinks lowly of adventures, saying that they are “Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!”

Bilbo at the time does not know that this man is Gandalf, who is a family friend, so he says that he doesn’t want any adventures, trying to imply that their conversation is at an end. Gandalf says that he won’t leave, and so Bilbo asks him his name. When Bilbo learns that he is Gandalf, he invites him to tea. Then he rushes in to his home, and closes his door. Gandalf scratches a sign on Bilbo’s door, and leaves.

The next day, a little before tea time, someone rings the door bell. Bilbo, thinking it is Gandalf, opens the door and finds a dwarf. The dwarf says his name is Dwalin. Soon more dwarves start arriving, until there is a total of thirteen dwarves. Their leader is Thorin Oakenshield, the heir of the King Under the Mountain. The dwarves are on a quest to reclaim their mountain home of Erebor. Of course, now we know that this is the quest Gandalf was talking about

Erebor was the most successful dwarf kingdom. The dwarves of Erebor mined many treasures, which is where their wealth was from. The human city next to it was prosperous and rich, as well.. Unfortunately, Erebor’s wealth attracted the attention of a dragon, Smaug, who took over Erebor and killed almost all of the dwarves (and destroyed the human city nearby, too). Now Thorin and his company are trying to take back their home. And they want Bilbo to be their burglar, though in the beginning it is not obvious why they require a burglar.

Bilbo finds the idea of himself joining the quest as a hired burglar distasteful but eventually agrees. So the company of fourteen (Bilbo and the thirteen dwarves together) sets out to defeat Smaug and reclaim Erebor.

Marshmallow is reading The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.
Marshmallow is reading The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Marshmallow’s Review: I think that this is a great book! It is not only a classic but really is in its own world. In this world of Middle Earth, there are different races of creatures: dwarves, elves, Hobbits, and humans (as well as wizards and orcs and goblins, too). J.R.R. Tolkien came up with songs and whole language systems for this book, which is really impressive. The characters’ names also make the book a lot more realistic, as they are not typical names; each name fits the particular race of its character.

Tolkien writes with long sentences and gives a lot of descriptions, but I found the story interesting enough to read the whole book easily. The plot of The Hobbit is very well written and the characters are all very interesting. It is unusual to read about a character like Bilbo, who is not necessarily the typical hero. Early on, Bilbo has a nervous breakdown, or panic attack, when the dwarves tell him there is a chance of him dying in this quest. So Bilbo seems to be nothing like a hero going on a quest: he is scared, he is not given to action and adventure, and he prefers to simply have his tea in a calm and relaxed manner. But he takes on this quest and we see him being brave and most honorable in his own way through the voyage.

I watched the 2012-2014 Hobbit movie series before I read the book, and I think that the book goes very well with the movies even though there are some differences between the two.

The trailer of the 2012 movie: An Unexpected Journey.

You can definitely watch the movies first and then read the book (like I did), or vice versa.

The trailer of the 2013 movie: The Desolation of Smaug.

The original is the one book, but Peter Jackson, the director of the movies, wanted to make the Hobbit story into a trilogy.

The trailer of the 2014 movie: The Battle of the Five Armies.

As you can probably already tell from the trailers, the movies can get scary at times and there are some violent scenes, so younger bunnies should definitely not watch them unsupervised. Caramel and I often covered our eyes when we were watching those types of scenes. They are really good movies for sure, but it might be a good idea for adult bunnies to watch them before showing them to a younger bunny.

Marshmallow’s Rating: 97%.

Marshmallow rates The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien 97%.
Marshmallow rates The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien 97%.

Caramel reviews How Do Dinosaurs … books by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague

Today Caramel visits Memory Lane, and shares some thoughts on five of his favorite books from when he was a much littler bunny: How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? (2000), How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon? (2003), How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? (2005), How Do Dinosaurs Go To School? (2007), and How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You? (2009), all written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Mark Teague. As usual, Sprinkles is asking questions and taking notes.

Caramel reviews How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? (2000), How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon? (2003), How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? (2005), How Do Dinosaurs Go To School? (2007), and How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You? (2009), all written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Mark Teague.
Caramel reviews How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? (2000), How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon? (2003), How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? (2005), How Do Dinosaurs Go To School? (2007), and How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You? (2009), all written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Mark Teague.

Sprinkles: So Caramel, it has been a long time since I saw you with these books!

Caramel: Yes. I used to read and reread these books so many times, but I don’t do that anymore. But I saw them the other day and wanted to look over them again. I still love them!

S: I know! We used to read them together. They all rhyme and they all have so many amazing pictures all throughout…

C: Yes, I love the pictures of the dinosaurs! They are so good! And they also say what each dinosaur is, and so for a bunny like me who loves dinosaurs, these books are just perfect!

S: I know you reviewed The Complete Guide to Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Reptiles by Chris McNab a while ago. So you think the dinosaur pictures in these books are cool?

C: Yes, they are all different dinosaurs, and the picture of each is different, with all sorts of details.

Caramel reviews How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? (2000),  written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Mark Teague.
Caramel reviews How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? (2000), written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Mark Teague.

S: So tell me a bit about How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? This is the first book of the series I think, and it was the first one we read.

C: This is about how young dinosaurs often delay going to sleep. Apparently a dinosaur who doesn’t want to go to sleep might throw his teddy bear all around, and slam his tail around, and shout “I want to hear one more book!” They also might roar or do other mischief, like turning back the lights on.

S: Those sound quite familiar to me as a parent trying to put her little ones to sleep!

C: Yes, they are very funny.

Caramel is reading How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? (2000),  written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Mark Teague.
Caramel is reading How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? (2000), written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Mark Teague.

S: But of course you would never do such mischief before bed?

C: Of course not! Marshmallow and I are such sweethearts, we’d never do such a thing.

S: You are sweethearts alright, but I guess we might disagree about bedtime mischief….

Caramel reviews How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon? (2003),  written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Mark Teague.
Caramel reviews How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon? (2003), written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Mark Teague.

S: Okay, next tell me a bit about How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon?. What’s this one about?

C: It’s about when a little dinosaur is sick and not feeling well. It is about them whining and complaining and so on. But in the end we learn actually that the little dinosaurs don’t ever do those bad things. The story goes:

Does he push back each drink, 
spit his pills in the sink?
Does he make a big stink?
Is that what you think?

No...
Caramel is reading How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon? (2003),  written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Mark Teague.
Caramel is reading How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon? (2003), written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Mark Teague.

S: So actually the books all start with all possible bad behaviors and then …

C: and then they end with all the good things the little dinosaur could be doing.

S: So in a way, this is teaching young bunnies how to behave even when they are not feeling well. Right?

C: Yep.

Caramel reviews How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? (2005),  written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Mark Teague.
Caramel reviews How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? (2005), written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Mark Teague.

S: Okay, now let us talk about the next book: How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? What is this one about?

C: This is about how little dinosaurs eat their food. It again starts with all the bad things a dinosaur could be doing. And then we learn that the little dinosaurs don’t do those things. They say “thank you”, “please”, and so on. They “sit still”, and “eat all the food in front of them with smiles and good will”.

S: So again a little bunny is learning how to behave during dinner time. Right?

C: Yep.

Caramel is reading How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? (2005),  written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Mark Teague.
Caramel is reading How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? (2005), written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Mark Teague.

S: So tell me more about the drawings. Do you find them amusing? Interesting?

C: Yes. The parents on each page are humans and only the children are dinosaurs. It’s funny, and I like thinking of myself as a dinosaur.

S: I guess children would like to be dinosaurs sometimes, it would be really fun to imagine. And parents are a bit too serious and maybe even a bit too old to be dinosaurs.

C: Yes, kind of.

Caramel reviews How Do Dinosaurs Go To School? (2007),  written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Mark Teague.
Caramel reviews How Do Dinosaurs Go To School? (2007), written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Mark Teague.

S: Okay, so what will you tell us about How Do Dinosaurs Go To School?

C: This is about all the bad things a little dinosaur could be doing in school, like pushing friends around, teasing them, being noisy when students need to be quiet, and so on. But actually the little dinosaur helps his classmates, raises his hand in class to talk, has a lot of friends he plays with, and growls at bullies.

S: This kind of reminded me of the pigeon book, The Pigeon HAS to Go to School! by Mo Willems.

C: Well, they are similar maybe, but the pigeon there does not want to go to school. He’s afraid. So that book is about making the pigeon feel good about going to school. But this book is about how to behave at school when you are already there.

S: I see. That makes sense.

Caramel is looking at the full cast of How Do Dinosaurs Go To School? (2007),  written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Mark Teague.
Caramel is looking at the full cast of How Do Dinosaurs Go To School? (2007), written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Mark Teague.

S: So which is your favorite dinosaur in this book?

C: The Silvisaurus, who is sitting in class, fidgeting, with his tail in the air…

S: Do you ever do that in class too?

C: No, I don’t! I try to listen to my teacher and do what she says.

S: Good for you Caramel!

Caramel reviews How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You? (2009),  written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Mark Teague.
Caramel reviews How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You? (2009), written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Mark Teague.

S: Finally tell me a bit about How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You?

C: This one is about dinosaurs saying “I love you” without words.

S: So they show their parents how much they love them with their actions?

C: Yes.

S: What kinds of actions?

C: The dinosaurs in this book make messes and behave badly sometimes, but then they make up for it, and they help out, and they smile and hug and kiss their parents, and so the parents know their little dinosaurs love them.

S: I think this one is written a bit differently than the other book. You hear the story from the voice of the parents who notice the little dinosaur’s love in his actions. Then the parents tell him in return how much they love him, too.

C: Yes, that is true.

S: I especially loved reading this book to you out loud and giving you big hugs.

C: I really like big hugs!

Caramel is showing us the full cast of How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You? (2009),  written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Mark Teague.
Caramel is showing us the full cast of How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You? (2009), written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Mark Teague.

S: So did you know that there are a few other books in this same series that we did not read?

C: Yep. Apparently there is one about counting, one about colors, one about cleaning one’s room, and one about playing with friends.

S: But we read and reread our five books so many times!

C: Yes. I really liked them when I was little.

S: Caramel, you are still little in the grand scheme of things.

C: Well, you too are tiny in the grand scheme of things, Sprinkles.

S: Touche! You are right. Cosmologically I am tiny, too. And I still love reading together with you.

C: Maybe we can read some of these together tonight?

S: I’d like that. But for now let us wrap up this review. What do you want to say to your readers?

C: They should all read these books! And they should all stay tuned for more book bunny reviews!

Caramel has enjoyed reading and rereading How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? (2000), How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon? (2003), How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? (2005), How Do Dinosaurs Go To School? (2007), and How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You? (2009), all written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Mark Teague, through the years. He recommends these books to the all the little bunnies who love dinosaurs and their parent bunnies who love to read with them.
Caramel has enjoyed reading and rereading How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? (2000), How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon? (2003), How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? (2005), How Do Dinosaurs Go To School? (2007), and How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You? (2009), all written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Mark Teague, through the years. He recommends these books to the all the little bunnies who love dinosaurs and their parent bunnies who love to read with them.

Marshmallow reviews Thornwood by Leah Cypess

Marshmallow has reviewed several books inspired by fairy tales before. See, for example, her reviews of A Tale Dark and GrimTuck EverlastingElla Enchanted, and Half Upon A Time. She has also enjoyed the whole School for Good and Evil series, which also explores fairy tales and their characters in depth. Today she writes about Thornwood by Leah Cypess, a book inspired by the story of Sleeping Beauty.

Marshmallow reviews Thornwood by Leah Cypess.
Marshmallow reviews Thornwood by Leah Cypess.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like books that retell classic fairy tales, or if you enjoy reading books about sisters, then this might be the book for you.

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): Briony’s sister Rosalin was cursed when she was a baby. The evil fairy queen said that when she turned sixteen, she would prick her finger on a spinning wheel and die. Luckily, Rosalin’s fairy godmother changed the curse slightly, so instead of dying, she would sleep for a hundred years, along with everyone else in the castle.

For her entire life, Briony has been the less important princess. Briony is always only an accessory to Rosalin’s story, or only an annoyance. Everyone pays more attention to Rosalin. Even so, Briony really likes her sister, and Rosalin likes her back, though as an older sibling, she is often dismissive of her.

On her sixteenth birthday, Rosalin pricks her finger on the spinning wheel. And she falls asleep, along with everyone else in the castle.

Marshmallow is reading Thornwood by Leah Cypess.
Marshmallow is reading Thornwood by Leah Cypess.

Years later, Briony wakes up and goes to Rosalin’s room. On the way there, she discovers that there are thorn branches that move which have grown around the castle. Briony comes to Rosalin’s room in time to see the prince wake her up. Rosalin is happy to see the prince, but when she sees Briony, she seems terrified for a moment and she quickly returns to a normal expression.

When Briony meets the prince, Prince Varian, she is suspicious of him because his story is a little fishy. He says that he cut through the thorn branches with a magical sword. He claims that he no longer has the sword because the thorn branches wrested it from him. He claims to have fought through the remaining thorns with his hands. Briony finds it suspicious that he has scratches on his hands but none on his face. And it turns out that Varian is not who he says he is, and it remains to be seen whether he can get them out of the Thornwood, or whether they will be stuck there forever. 

Marshmallow’s Review: The plot of Thornwood is well thought out, well-written, and full of twists and turns. I was very surprised by one of the big reveals.

I really like how the story is based off of a fairy tale that many people know, but the plot sort of changes from the original tale. It also introduces Briony, the sister whom we do not know about from the usual telling of the story of Sleeping Beauty, and things get a lot more complicated than expected.

I think that the characters are realistic. They have realistic and relatable personalities, and they all have their habits and their flaws. 

This is the first book of a new series Sisters Ever After, where the author Leah Cypess reimagines several different fairy tales. Thornwood is a reimagining of Sleeping Beauty. I am curious about the next book, which is apparently about Cinderella. If I do, I will definitely write about it.

Marshmallow’s Rating: 95%.

Marshmallow rates Thornwood by Leah Cypess 95%.
Marshmallow rates Thornwood by Leah Cypess 95%.

Caramel reviews How to Seize A Dragon’s Jewel (Book #10 of How to Train Your Dragon Series) by Cressida Cowell

Caramel has been reviewing the books in Cressida Cowell’s How to Train Your Dragon series one by one. The last one he reviewed was the eighth book (How to Break A Dragon’s Heart). Because Marshmallow had already reviewed the ninth book (How to Steal A Dragon’s Sword), Caramel decided to skip that and move on to book #10: How To Seize a Dragon’s Jewel. As usual, Sprinkles is taking notes and asking questions.

Caramel reviews How to Seize A Dragon’s Jewel (Book #10 of How to Train Your Dragon Series) by Cressida Cowell.
Caramel reviews How to Seize A Dragon’s Jewel (Book #10 of How to Train Your Dragon Series) by Cressida Cowell.

Sprinkles: So Caramel, we are on book number 10. Tell me about it.

Caramel: This book is about the dragon gem. It has the power to destroy all dragons forever.

S: Wait, that sounds serious. So the title is talking about a dragon’s jewel. Is that what you are talking about too?

C: Yep.

S: So which dragon owns this dragon gem? And who is trying to seize it from them?

C: I think it belongs to all dragons, but it is hidden and there is a map that shows where it is. Hiccup and his friends are trying to find it before bad guys do.

S: Because of course the bad guys would want to hurt the dragons?

C: Of course. But there are others who just don’t want Hiccup to have it. Those are some dragons who do not like humans much.

S: Hmm, that is interesting. So there are factions among the dragons, because Toothless and many of the other dragons we met actually like humans, right?

C: Yes. Also the map has a red herring.

S: Oh, do you know what is a red herring?

C: A fake lead, so a clue that looks like it will lead somewhere but it won’t. It is a picture of a red herring, a real herring, a fish, that is winking.

S: That’s a cool way to teach children this phrase! A red herring that is a real red herring!

Caramel is reading How to Seize A Dragon’s Jewel (Book #10 of How to Train Your Dragon Series) by Cressida Cowell.
Caramel is reading How to Seize A Dragon’s Jewel (Book #10 of How to Train Your Dragon Series) by Cressida Cowell.

S: So you read all ten of the books in this series now. Did you enjoy this tenth book as much as the others?

C: Yes, but I think I liked the ones before the eighth one more, because with the eighth book things start getting a bit too serious. A bit too scary.

S: What do you mean?

C: There is a character named Excellinor. She is a witch and Alvin the Treacherous’s mom, and she is really scary.

S: Hmm, and she shows up in the eighth book, is that so?

C: Yes. And see, here is a part where I think it gets extra creepy:

The Librarian turned, and poked his way back to Prison Darkheart, slaloming crazily through the corpses, with all the eagerness of one who has waited long to settle an old score.

Everything we do, you see, has its consequences and repercussions, every kind act and every bad, every friend we make, and every enemy.

Everything is connected.

C: And the Librarian is not even as scary as Excellinor.

S: Okay, I can see why you would get a bit sad that this series, which was mostly fun and light-hearted, became a bit scarier than you had expected.

C: Yes! I really am a bit bummed by it.

S: That seems to happen a lot though, as the characters mature, for example, in the Harry Potter books, too, things start getting more and more serious and scarier and scarier.

C: I know. And that is kind of why I’m avoiding reading those books.

S: Well, I still think they are really good books and you should read them some time soon…

C: We will see. Maybe I can be convinced.

S: Maybe. I’ll see what I can do to convince you. Well, let’s get back to this tenth book of the How to Train Your Dragon series. What three words would you use to describe it?

C: It is a bit scary, so I would use that word. Then, it is also still funny, so that is my second word. And sad.

S: Oh, I did not know that. But I know you don’t like too many sad stories.

C: I hate them. The only sad story I liked was Charlotte’s Web.

S: But you liked this book too, no?

C: Well, I guess this counts too.

S: So do you still want to read the eleventh and the twelfth books? Or are you too scared now?

C: Maybe. I think I do want to read them. But I hope they won’t be so sad and they won’t be too much scarier.

S: I guess we will see, right?

C: Yep.

S: So let us wrap up this review. What do you want to tell our readers Caramel?

C: Stay tuned for more book bunny reviews!

Caramel both liked and disliked reading How to Seize A Dragon’s Jewel (Book #10 of How to Train Your Dragon Series) by Cressida Cowell. He is eager to see how the stories will wrap up in the last books of the series.
Caramel both liked and disliked reading How to Seize A Dragon’s Jewel (Book #10 of How to Train Your Dragon Series) by Cressida Cowell. He is eager to see how the stories will wrap up in the last books of the series.