Marshmallow reviews A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein

Reading The Unscratchable Itch in Caramel’s review of The Itchy Book by LeUyen Pham from last week reminded Marshmallow of Shel Silverstein’s A Light in the Attic. Below she reviews this old favorite.

Marshmallow reviews A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein.
Marshmallow reviews A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein.

Marshmallow’s quick take: If you like poetry books, then this might be the book for you.

Marshmallow’s Overview: This is a book of poems written for children by the author of the famous The Giving Tree, Shel Silverstein. Silverstein also wrote another poetry book for children called Where The Sidewalk Ends. He also wrote The Missing Piece Meets the Big O, which Caramel wants to review some day. (Oh no, I told you what Caramel is going to review!)

Marshmallow’s Favorites: My personal favorites are Fancy Dive, Peckin’, Ladies First, and Almost Perfect. I even memorized Fancy Dive and Peckin’ already. 

I like Fancy Dive because it is funny but also involves a few broken bones. 

The fanciest dive that ever was dove
Was done by Melissa of Coconut Grove.
She bounced on the board and flew into the air
With a twist of her head and a twirl of her hair.
She did thirty-four jackknives, backflipped and spun,
Quadruple gainered, and reached for the sun,
And then somersaulted nine times and a quarter—
And looked down and saw that the pool had no water..

Shel Silverstein, A Light in the Attic

As you can tell from this example, many of the poems have an interesting twist in the end. There is a sense of Dr. Seuss in Shel Silverstein I think. 

Peckin’ is very sad but humorous. 

The saddest thing I ever did see
Was a woodpecker peckin’ at a plastic tree.
He looks at me and “Friend,” says he,
“Things ain’t as sweet as they used to be.

Shel Silverstein, A Light in the Attic.

This poem reminds me of the tragic story of Nigel, the lonely gannet. This was a bird in New Zealand that fell in love with a concrete bird and stayed with the concrete bird and eventually died. Poor Nigel was faithful to the very end.

Ladies First is a good poem and so is Almost Perfect.  In both poems, the main character is an annoying person who goes through life saying the same annoying phrase over and over again. Both Mary Hume (Almost Perfect) and Pamela Purse (Ladies First) get precisely what they deserve in the end. 

Marshmallow is reading Ladies First by Shel Silverstein in A Light in the Attic.
Marshmallow is reading Ladies First by Shel Silverstein in A Light in the Attic.

There are over a hundred more poems in the whole book. You should check them out yourself!

Marshmallow’s Review: Shel Silverstein’s poems are funny almost all the time — some are sad, like Cloony the Clown — but they are always well written. They all sound good; I enjoy reading many of the poems out loud to Caramel. Almost all poems in the book come with an illustration (drawn by Shel Silverstein himself) that adds to its effect.

This is overall a very good book. I am currently rereading the book for the fifth time, and I expect to be rereading it again and again in the future. 

Marshmallow’s rating: 100%

Marshmallow rates A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein 100%.
Marshmallow rates A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein 100%.

Caramel reviews The Itchy Book by LeUyen Pham

Last week Caramel reviewed The Cookie Fiasco by Dan Santat, from Mo Willems’ series Elephant and Piggie Like Reading. Below he shares his thoughts on the second book he read from the series: The Itchy Book by LeUyen Pham. Sprinkles is taking notes and asking followup questions.

Caramel reviews The Itchy Book by LeUyen Pham.
Caramel reviews The Itchy Book by LeUyen Pham.

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

Caramel: It’s an awesome book! The book is about a group of dinosaurs who all have an itch to scratch, except one. But they can’t scratch their itches.

S: Why not?

C: There’s a sign that says “Dinosaurs do not scratch”.

S: And so they want to follow the rules and don’t scratch themselves, right?

C: Yes, until the end. But I won’t tell you what happens in the end. Can I instead tell you about which dinosaurs are in the book?

S: Yes Caramel. That would be neat.

C: There is a brontosaurus, a pterodactyl, a triceratops, a T-rex, and a pachycephalosaurus.

S: That is a lot of different dinosaur types. How come you know them all?

C: I like dinosaurs. And I know all about the first four. And one of my friends knows a lot about the pachycephalosaurus.

S: So which one is your favorite dinosaur then?

C: The pachycephalosaurus! It’s a plant eater. I also like triceratops and pterodactyls. I also like pteranodons, but there is no pteranodon in The Itchy Book.

S: That’s a good way to get back to the book we are talking about. So what else did you want to say about this book?

C: I loved the book! It is so funny! The twist in the end is cool and the characters themselves are all funny!

S: Ooo, so there’s a twist in the end, hmm?

C: Yup, but I won’t tell! Everybody should read it themselves!

S: I agree. Ok, so this was again an Elephant and Piggie Like Reading! book. Do they appear in the book again, like in The Cookie Fiasco?

C: Yes. They show up at the beginning of the story and also at the end. Like before. And Gerald gets very very itchy in the end.

S: Well, talking about itches and scratching itchy spots might make you itchy, no?

C: Yep, that’s exactly what happens to Gerald. But I didn’t feel itchy. I just felt like laughing.

S: That is good, isn’t it? This book reminded me of Shel Silverstein’s poem: The Unscratchable Itch. Do you know it?

C: Nope.

S: Ok, then we should read it together:

There is a spot that you can’t scratch
Right between your shoulder blades,
Like an egg that just won’t hatch
Here you set and there it stays.
Turn and squirm and try to reach it,
Twist your neck and bend your back,
Hear your elbows creak and crack,
Stretch your fingers, now you bet it’s
Going to reach — no that won’t get it–
Hold your breath and stretch and pray,
Only just an inch away,
Worse than a sunbeam you can’t catch
Is that one spot that
You can’t scratch.

Shel Silverstein, from A Light in the Attic, Harper & Row, 1981.

C: That is a funny poem!

S: It is, isn’t it? And a good place to end your review this time, right?

C: Yes, it’s just about time. Because now I’m itchy! Scratch scratch!

Caramel enjoyed reading The Itchy Book by LeUyen Pham.
Caramel enjoyed reading The Itchy Book by LeUyen Pham.

Marshmallow reviews The Sorcerer’s Maze Collection by Blair Polly and DM Potter

Marshmallow has been reading a few “choose your own adventure” books in the last few weeks. Here she reviews the first book she read from the You Say Which Way series of Blair Polly and DM Potter: The Sorcerer’s Maze Collection.

Marshmallow reviews The Sorcerer's Maze Collection by Blair Polly and DM Potter.
Marshmallow reviews The Sorcerer’s Maze Collection by Blair Polly and DM Potter.

Marshmallow’s quick take: If you like books that allow you to choose which way you go, then this might be the book for you.

Marshmallow’s summary (with spoilers): The Sorcerer’s Maze Collection is basically a collection of games. You are the main character in the book. There are multiple ways to get to the end, if you get to the end. (That sounded too scary. You will most likely get to the end. Eventually.)

The Sorcerer’s Maze Collection contains three different stories: Adventure Quiz, Jungle Trek, and Time Machine. In all of the stories there is a sorcerer’s apprentice present, and in the third story (Time Machine) there is a girl named Matilda. (She is an Australian foreign exchange student and she becomes your friend before the time machine adventure happens.)

Adventure Quiz (book #1): This story starts with you sinking into a marshmallow floor. (Hey, I’m not a floor!) Signs pose questions for you to answer. There is a Sorcerer’s apprentice who asks you questions that are like a quiz or a test. The questions are kind of hard. (At least for a rabbit!) There are questions about space, science, history, and math. (You go back to the beginning if you mess up.)

Jungle Trek (book #2): You start out reading a book, and then you get transported to the jungle, and there are two people in the jungle. They tell you that they are the Sorcerer’s apprentices and are there to take you to the Sorcerer. To get through the jungle you have to answer the many questions they ask you, like “Which is bigger? The mouse or the rabbit?” (The questions are harder than the one I wrote.) If you get the question right, then you continue, and if you don’t, then you go back to the beginning. The questions in this book were the most interesting in the whole collection.

Time Machine (book #3): This story begins in an empty laboratory with your friend, Matilda. You see some weird gadget and Matilda touches it. You and Matilda are transported back in time to the age of Ancient Egypt. Once again you are asked many questions. If you answer a question correctly, you go closer to your real time, and if you make a mistake, then you go farther away from your real time or the time that you started in. Of course there is, again, a Sorcerer’s apprentice who is asking most of the questions.

Marshmallow’s Review: I enjoyed the first two stories more than the third, because I felt like the Sorcerer was cruel in the third book. And the companion, Matilda, was not terribly helpful.

I liked most the questions that came up naturally in my path through the maze, rather than the questions posed by the Sorcerer’s apprentices.

These were my first “choose your own adventure” books. I enjoyed the experience. It was like a game. I liked that I could impact the story because I sometimes get very frustrated when characters in books make foolish choices. In this book I could make all the decisions. I think I will read more books like this in the future.

Marshmallow’s rating: 95%

Marshmallow rates The Sorcerer's Maze Collection 95%.
Marshmallow rates The Sorcerer’s Maze Collection 95%.

Caramel reviews The Cookie Fiasco by Dan Santat

Caramel always enjoyed reading the Elephant and Piggie books of Mo Willems, and so he was very excited when he saw the book series Elephant and Piggie Like Reading. Below he shares his thoughts on the first book he read from the series: The Cookie Fiasco, by Dan Santat. Sprinkles is taking notes and asking followup questions.

Caramel reviews The Cookies Fiasco by Dan Santat.
Caramel reviews The Cookies Fiasco by Dan Santat.

Sprinkles: Tell me about this book Caramel.

Caramel: This book is about four friends who love cookies, and they have some chocolate chip cookies, but there are only three cookies, and they want to share equally.

S: Who are the four friends?

C: Hippo, Croc, and two squirrels. The hippo is pink and purple, the croc is green, and the squirrels are orange and blue. The book is very colorful. And at the very end there is a cow who joins them.

S: What does this have to do with Elephant and Piggie?

C: They’re reading the book with us. So we see them only at the beginning and at the end of the book. But they are as funny as usual!

S: I agree! And the book actually feels quite similar to the Elephant and Piggie books, right? The back cover and the binding even have the same color scheme and design style… So it’s pretty familiar to someone like you who read so many of the Elephant and Piggie books, right?

C: Right!

S: So how do the four friends resolve the problem?

C: The hippo breaks the cookies in half and then in smaller pieces. Till the three cookies become twelve cookie pieces. And then each friend can get three pieces. That’s fair!

S: Our family could use this trick too, right? If we wanted to share three cookies among the four of us bunnies, then we could split each cookie into four and then each of us could take one piece from each cookie.

C: Yeah! Then we could all eat yummy cookies!

S: Yes! Looking at the book again, is there a character you liked more than others?

C: I liked the crocodile most.

S: Why is that?

C: Because I really like his answer when the others try to get him to give up his share:

-I heard crocodiles do not like cookies.

-Maybe YOU should not get a cookie!

-Huh?! I eat cookies! I love cookies! I could eat a whole plate right now!

And he’s looking really worried on that page. He’s funny!

Caramel is reading one of his favorite pages in The Cookies Fiasco by Dan Santat.
Caramel is reading one of his favorite pages in The Cookies Fiasco by Dan Santat.

S: Yes he is! The whole book is quite fun to read. Do you like reading it with me or do you like to read it alone?

C: It’s always more fun to read with somebody else.

S: Yes! I enjoy reading it with you too. We can make funny voices when we do that, right?

C: Yep! But in the end I always agree with Gerald the Elephant. This book makes me hungry and thirsty! Especially for chocolate chip cookies and some milk!

S: Yes, some cookies and milk would be nice. Maybe this is a good time to end this review. Or we will get hungrier and hungrier.

C: I WANT TO EAT COOKIES NOW!!!

S: Ok, let’s see what we have in the kitchen…

Caramel really enjoyed reading The Cookie Fiasco by Dan Santat and is looking forward to reading other Elephant and Pigggie Like Reading books.
Caramel really enjoyed reading The Cookie Fiasco by Dan Santat and is looking forward to reading other Elephant and Pigggie Like Reading books.