Caramel reviews Totem Tale: A Tall Story from Alaska by Deb Vanasse

Caramel reviews Totem Tale: A Tall Story from Alaska written by Deb Vanasse and illustrated by Erik Brooks.

Today Caramel wanted to talk about one of his favorite books: Totem Tale: A Tall Story from Alaska written by Deb Vanasse and illustrated by Erik Brooks. Sprinkles is asking questions along the way and taking notes.

Caramel reviews Totem Tale: A Tall Story from Alaska written by Deb Vanasse and illustrated by Erik Brooks.
Caramel reviews Totem Tale: A Tall Story from Alaska written by Deb Vanasse and illustrated by Erik Brooks.

Sprinkles: Let us talk about this book Caramel. What is it about?

Caramel: It is about a totem pole which is enchanted.

S: In what way?

C: When it’s a full moon, it comes to life. The whole totem pole.

S: Tell me more. What is a totem pole?

C: A totem pole is a tall pole made of wood, with animals carved into parts of it. And it is painted. Here is what Wikipedia says about them: totem poles are “monumental carvings, a type of Northwest Coast art, consisting of poles, posts or pillars, carved with symbols or figures”.

S: And this one is a totem pole in Alaska, according to the book title. And again according to Wikipedia, a totem is “a spirit being, sacred object, or symbol that serves as an emblem of a group of people, such as a family, clan, lineage, or tribe.” So how does this particular totem pole come to life? Tell me more Caramel.

C: I can just read from the book:

“Deep in a cedar forest stood a totem pole, stark and still. Long ago a carver stacked the totem animals and then forgot them.”

S: Well, maybe he did not forget them. Since it was a long ago, maybe he died. Maybe his people had to leave the forest.

Caramel invited a green friend to read Totem Tale: A Tall Story from Alaska. Can you see him?
Caramel invited a green friend to read Totem Tale: A Tall Story from Alaska with. Can you see his tail?

C: Yes, that is possible too. Let me continue to read.

“One night the moon rose low and full. Washed in the light of moonbeams, the totems SPRANG to life.”

S: That sounds exciting! So then what happens?

C: They go have fun for a night. As real living animals.

S: Then what happens?

C: Then before the sun rises they have to return to the pole or else they will have never been. Which is sad. Really sad.

S: Yes, it is sad! Then what happens?

C: None of them can remember the order of the totem pole. How they started in the beginning, like who was on top, who was under, and so on. They all brag about themselves and try to take the supposedly place of honor on the very top.

Caramel and his friend the Loch Ness Monster are reading Totem Tale: A Tall Story from Alaska together.
Caramel and his friend the Loch Ness Monster are reading Totem Tale: A Tall Story from Alaska together.

S: But most of their attempts fail, right?

C: Yes, they fail and come tumbling down to the ground.

S: Until … well maybe we shouldn’t give away the whole thing.

C: Okay, fine.

S: So what do you like about this book most Caramel?

C: I like the animals. They’re so cute! Like us bunnies!

S: So what animals are there among the totems?

C: Let me see. There is a frog, there’s a beaver, an eagle, a bear, and a wolf, and a raven. That is the order of the totem pole.

S: Really? How can the frog carry the bear?

C: I don’t know. Well they’re all made of wood, aren’t they?

S: And of course this is a story! it doesn’t have to make sense in all ways.

C: But in the end the order does make sense. And the Raven explains it.

S: Ok, let’s not give away any more. But this is a magical story really. And I totally understand why you like it so much. Alright, this is a good place to end this review. What last thing do you want to tell our readers?

C: Stay tuned for more book bunny adventures!

Caramel loves to read and reread Totem Tale: A Tall Story from Alaska written by Deb Vanasse and illustrated by Erik Brooks.
Caramel loves to read and reread Totem Tale: A Tall Story from Alaska written by Deb Vanasse and illustrated by Erik Brooks.

Marshmallow reviews Animal Farm by George Orwell

Marshmallow reviews Animal Farm by George Orwell (1945).

Marshmallow found a copy of George Orwell’s classic Animal Farm during her summer break and chose it for her first review of August 2019.

Marshmallow reviews Animal Farm by George Orwell.
Marshmallow reviews Animal Farm by George Orwell.

Marshmallow’s quick take: If you like books that are about animals that act and talk like humans, then this might be the book for you.

Marshmallow’s Summary (with spoilers): The animals on Manor Farm gather to listen to the last speech made by Major, an old boar who is about to die. Major says in his speech that man is the real enemy and that if they overthrow the farmer then they can be free. He says that man does not produce anything like milk and eggs, but humans are still the top of the food chain. Three nights later Major passes away.

Soon after, three pigs named Napoleon, Snowball, and Squealer start a rebellion against humans, like Major said. They succeed and eventually overthrow the farmer Jones and his wife. The farmer runs away and leaves the farm to the animals. The animals rename the farm Animal Farm. But Jones does not want to give away the farm. He goes back to the farm to regain the farm. The humans lose and the animals remain the owners of the farm for the time being. 

Before the fight, the animals establish a kind of law called The Seven Commandments.

The Seven Commandments

1Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
2Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend. 
3No animal shall wear clothes.
4No animal shall sleep in a bed.   
5No animal shall drink alcohol.
6No animal shall kill any other animal.
7All animals are equal.

These rules will eventually change and change for the worst.

Marshmallow is pointing to the original seven commandments in George Orwell's Animal Farm.
Marshmallow is pointing to the original seven commandments in George Orwell’s Animal Farm.

Animal Farm is a happy place until the leaders start getting corrupted by greed for power and eventually turn against each other. Snowball proposes that they build a windmill to get electricity. Napoleon is against the idea. The two comrades turn against each other. Napoleon trains a few dogs to use as bodyguards and he frightens Snowball away with them. Then he eventually says that he had agreed with the windmill plan the whole time and that he was really just pretending to disagree. Napoleon also says that it turns out the Snowball was allies with the evil farmer Jones. They start to build the windmill. Once they finish the windmill, after a lot of tiresome work, the windmill breaks and Snowball is blamed for the destruction of the windmill.

This is only page 47; the book has 95 pages total. A lot more happens but I think this is enough to give you a taste of what is to come.

Marshmallow’s review: This book is an allegory about how people treat each other when they have too much power. It reminded me of Aesop’s fables where the main characters are animals acting like humans. But this is a much more political story than The Boy Who Cried Wolf.

“It is the history of a revolution that went wrong—and of the excellent excuses that were forthcoming at every step for the perversion of the original doctrine.”

wrote Orwell in the original blurb for the first edition of Animal Farm in 1945.

from the back cover.

As in fables you learn lessons from the story. It seems that pretty much anybody can be corrupted by power. Of course, the silence and cooperation of the farm animals who are all scared of being the next victim of Napoleon’s dogs allow his corruption to grow.

This book is quite pessimistic and does not have a happy end. But maybe we can learn from it some things. All in all I appreciated reading it and will likely read it again.

Marshmallow’s rating: 95%

Marshmallow rates George Orwell's Animal Farm 95%.
Marshmallow rates George Orwell’s Animal Farm 95%.

Marshmallow reviews Animal Friendship! Collection by National Geographic Kids

Marshmallow reviews Animal Friendship! Collection by National Geographic Kids, a collection of three books in one volume:

Book 1: Best Friends Forever! And More True Stories of Animal Friendships (by Amy Shields)

Book 2: The Whale Who Won Hearts! And More True Stories of Adventures with Animals (by Brian Skerry with Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld)

Book 3: Lucky Leopards! And More True Stories of Amazing Animal Rescues (by Aline Alexander Newman)

Marshmallow has been reading the Animal Friendship! Collection by National Geographic Kids on and off for a couple years now. Finally she is writing about it.

Marshmallow reviews Animal Friendship! Collection, Amazing Stories of Animal Friends and the Humans Who Love Them by National Geographic Kids.
Marshmallow reviews Animal Friendship! Collection: Amazing Stories of Animal Friends and the Humans Who Love Them by National Geographic Kids.

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

Marshmallow’s Overview: This book has three books in one volume:

Book 1: Best Friends Forever! And More True Stories of Animal Friendships (by Amy Shields)
Book 2: The Whale Who Won Hearts! And More True Stories of Adventures with Animals (by Brian Skerry with Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld)
Book 3: Lucky Leopards! And More True Stories of Amazing Animal Rescues (by Aline Alexander Newman)

In the first two books, there are four stories each, each made up of three chapters. The third book has three stories, each made up of three chapters. That means that there are, in total, eleven stories (all told in a total of 33 chapters) in the collection.

Each story is three chapters long. The stories are all about different animals: there are stories about leopards, apes, dogs, whales, cats, sharks, and so on. In the stories of the first book, there is a friendship between two species of animals that are each unique in different ways. Most stories in the second book are about human interactions with special animals, and the stories in the third book are about people rescuing hurt animals. The stories are all real, and the book contains many colorful photos of the events happening.

Marshmallow is pointing towards an adorable baby harp seal, the protagonist of only one of the many sweet stories in Animal Friendship! Collection, Amazing Stories of Animal Friends and the Humans Who Love Them by National Geographic Kids.
Marshmallow is pointing towards an adorable baby harp seal, the protagonist of only one of the many sweet stories in Animal Friendship! Collection: Amazing Stories of Animal Friends and the Humans Who Love Them by National Geographic Kids.

Marshmallow’s Review: The book cover says that this book is about “Amazing Stories of Animal Friends and the Humans Who Love Them”. This description is accurate as these are really heartwarming and amazing stories.  

This is a great read for people and rabbits who like nonfiction books about animals and people. It contains stories that have characters that are all loyal and kind to their friends or companions. 

My favorite book in the collection is Book 1: Best Friends Forever! I like this book because it has my favorite stories. The stories in this book are about animal friendships. The animals are very loyal to their companions who are from a different species, which makes it even more impressive that they are friends. The very first story is about Roscoe the dog and Suryia the orangutan. The second one is about a gorilla named Koko who loves cats. The third story is about a greyhound named Jasmine and the many different animals she becomes friends with. The last story of Book 1 is about Owen the hippo and his friend Mzee the tortoise.

The fact that this book is nonfiction is almost unbelievable since the stories are so unlikely but very cute and adorable. In my opinion this is a very good and well written book.

Marshmallow’s rating: 100%

Marshmallow rates Animal Friendship! Collection, Amazing Stories of Animal Friends and the Humans Who Love Them by National Geographic Kids 100%.
Marshmallow rates Animal Friendship! Collection: Amazing Stories of Animal Friends and the Humans Who Love Them by National Geographic Kids 100%.