Caramel reviews Opposites Abstract by Mo Willems

Caramel has been a Mo Willems fan forever. He has already reviewed a book from his Pigeon series, another from his Elephant and Piggie series, and yet another from his Unlimited Squirrels series for the book bunnies blog. When Sprinkles heard about a new book by Mo Willems offering a different kind of art, she wanted to see what Caramel would think of the book. Below is Caramel’s review of Opposites Abstract. As usual Sprinkles is taking notes and asking questions.

Caramel reviews Opposites Abstract by Mo Willems.
Caramel reviews Opposites Abstract by Mo Willems.

Sprinkles: So Caramel, I know you loved all the pigeon stories of Mo Willems, and you even reviewed one for our blog. Now Willems has written a book for baby bunnies and other young ones called Opposites Abstract. And you have read it just recently. Can you tell our readers a bit about the book? What is it about? How is it organized?

Caramel: It starts inside the front cover by saying “This is STARTING”, and in the end, on the very last page, it says “This is FINISHED”. All pages have either a picture or three words. The pictures are very colorful and the words are like this: “Is this DARK?” or “Is this MECHANICAL?” or “Is this SOFT?”

S: So it seems like one of those books you and I used to read together and look at the pages and learn about opposites.

C: Yes. I think that is the idea.

S: So what are some examples of opposites from the book?

C: I already told you about STARTING and FINISHED. Another was DARK and LIGHT. The opposite of MECHANICAL is ORGANIC, and the opposite of SOFT is HARD.

S: SOFT / HARD and DARK / LIGHT are quite standard in this kind of a book, but the STARTING / FINISHED one is a good one. I also did not see MECHANICAL / ORGANIC in this kind of book before.

C: There is more that is not that typical. There is the INDIVIDUAL and the GROUP. And INCLUSION and EXCLUSION.

S: Those are interesting choices. What kind of picture is drawn for the INDIVIDUAL and the GROUP?

C: The picture of the INDIVIDUAL is like an eye, a single circle, it could also be a head, or a little dandelion. And the GROUP has many many circles and they are all connected to one another.

S: I can see how that is an abstraction of the idea of a group of people, being connected to one another, and the other one is all alone, but also bigger and in the center. That is cool.

C: But some of the circles in the GROUP are bigger than the others, too. Maybe it is kind of like “all animals are equal but some animals are more equal”.

S: I see what you did! We should put a link to Marshmallow’s review of The Animal Farm here.

C: Yep.

Caramel is reading Opposites Abstract by Mo Willems.
Caramel is reading Opposites Abstract by Mo Willems.

S: I know you like mechanical things. What did you think of the picture for MECHANICAL?

C: It was interesting. There are pulleys, and a rectangular pulley system, and kind of looks like there is some mechanical production going on. Circles on the end of the pulleys and lights.

S: What is the opposite picture like then?

C: The opposite is ORGANIC. There are ovals, they look like cells or single-cell organisms.

S: So they look more alive and organic, I suppose.

C: Yep, and that is the word: ORGANIC. O-R-G-A-N-I-C.

S: That is neat! I am guessing you will not forget how to spell “organic” ever again. Anyways, what did you think of the pictures?

C: I think they are awesome. They are very colorful and they fit the word they are supposed to describe. Sometimes it takes me a while to think about them, but I do see them in the end.

S: I know, right? They are just ripe for discussion. So I can see an adult bunny reading this together with a young bunny and them talking about each picture together. There is a lot to open up.

C: Yes, you and I did talk a bunch about each picture. The word CALM reminded you of a book I reviewed before, and when you told me that, I remembered it was Albert’s Quiet Quest by Isabelle Arsenault. So much to think about and talk about!

S: So do you think other young bunnies would like to read this book with their adults?

C: YES!

S: Okay, so tell me your three words for the book and then we can wrap this up.

C: Colorful, wordless–

S: I guess you could say “sparse”.

C: Sparse works. And “opposites”. It is full of them!

S: I think that would work. So what do you want to tell our readers as we wrap up this review?

C: Stay tuned for more book bunny reviews!

Caramel loved reading Opposites Abstract by Mo Willems and will likely keep looking at its colorful pages for a lot more times in the coming weeks and months.
Caramel loved reading Opposites Abstract by Mo Willems and will likely keep looking at its colorful pages for a lot more times in the coming weeks and months.

Marshmallow reviews Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson

Today Marshmallow reviews Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson, published in 2017.

Marshmallow reviews Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson.
Marshmallow reviews Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like books about art or school, then this might be the book for you.

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): Jade Butler has been taught that she needs to take every opportunity she is offered, which is why she is still going to St. Francis High School. St. Francis is a private school, and when Jade was accepted with a scholarship, she knew that it was an opportunity, so as her mother taught her, she took it. When the book starts, she has been at St. Francis for two years. But being at St. Francis also means being away from her old friends and almost everyone she knows. Jade has few friends at school and her art is one thing she takes strength from.

This year, Jade is hoping that she will be chosen to be one of the group of people who will get to go to Costa Rica, to study abroad. But she is told that she has, instead, been selected to participate in a program called Woman to Woman. In Woman to Woman, Jade is assigned a mentor, like all of the other girls in the program. The program is supposed to help girls with issues. However, Jade’s mentor, a woman named Maxine, does not show up to the first meeting of the Woman to Woman program. Jade finds herself wondering, will this new Woman to Woman program actually help?

Marshmallow is reading Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson.
Marshmallow is reading Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson.

Marshmallow’s Review: I really enjoyed reading Piecing Me Together, but I want to say that I would recommend that younger bunnies wait until they are a little older before reading this book. It has some mature topics, and parents might want to wait until the bunnies are older. I think that the age group I would recommend Piecing Me Together the most to would to 12-year-old bunnies and up. But if course, if a parent has read it and thinks that their child should read it, Piecing Me Together is a great book.

I think that the author, Renée Watson, is very successful in creating realistic characters. Even if you haven’t been in all of the situations that the characters are in, you can identify or relate with them. Not only are the characters realistic, the book shows some issues in realistic ways. For example at some point, a salesclerk asks if she can take Jade’s purse, so she can make sure that Jade is not stealing anything. The salesclerk claims it is store policy, but Jade sees that several white women in the store still have their bags. The salesclerk claims it is because her bag is larger than theirs, but her bag is not actually that much larger. Through Jade’s eyes, the reader witnesses several such instances of racism.

The book is written in 76 short chapters. Each starts with a word in Spanish and its English translation. Jade is learning Spanish at school, and the words connect to the themes of the chapters well.

Marshmallow’s Rating: 95%.

Marshmallow is reading Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson.
Marshmallow rates Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson 95%.