Caramel reviews Last Gamer Standing by Katie Zhao

Caramel has been reviewing book after book of the Wings of Fire series. Today he takes a break from the dragons and talks about a book about gaming: Last Gamer Standing by Katie Zhao, published in 2021. As usual, Sprinkles is taking notes and asking questions.

Caramel reviews Last Gamer Standing by Katie Zhao.
Caramel reviews Last Gamer Standing by Katie Zhao.

Sprinkles: So Caramel this book just appeared one day in your paws.

Caramel: Yes, I got it from my classroom library.

S: That is cool, that you have a classroom library and that there are books there that you find interesting.

C: Yep. I often find books there that I like to read.

S: Okay, so why did you pick up this one?

C: Because it looked interesting.

S: And did it turn out to be interesting?

C: Yes, why else would I be reviewing it?

S: Well, that is good. Tell us about it then.

C: This book is about Reyna Cheng, who is a Chinese-American gamer.

S: What does that mean?

C: She plays virtual reality video games.

S: What kinds of games?

C: The one she is playing is called Dayhold and she is very good at it.

S: Does Dayhold exist? Did you ever play it?

C: No, this is supposed to be in the future, it is 2064 or 2067 or something like that, and the video game is in virtual reality. And she is competing against other people as well as some artificial intelligence players. And people who are very good at gaming are like celebrities and there is a lot of money in gaming. So Reyna is not just playing, she wants to become a professional gamer.

S: I see. So she is young though, right?

C: Yes, she is twelve and just finished sixth grade. But most of the other people in the game don’t know who she is and she wants to keep it that way.

S: Why?

C: Because most gamers are boys or men and Reyna knows from experience that as a girl gamer, she will not be treated well.

S: Oh, that’s so not fair!

C: You’re right, and she is so much better than the other players.

S: Well, even if she weren’t, it would be better if people did not mistreat her just because she is a girl.

C: I agree.

Caramel is reading Last Gamer Standing by Katie Zhao.
Caramel is reading Last Gamer Standing by Katie Zhao.

C: She is very good though. She beats one of the best players and he was cheating and she still beat him.

S: Wait, I am worried you might be going into spoiler territory.

C: Possibly. but there is a lot more that happens in the book. So there is a troll for example who wants to dox her. And doxing we looked that up, it means that people make your identity public despite your wishes to remain anonymous. And a troll is “a person who intentionally antagonizes others online by posting inflammatory, irrelevant, or offensive comments or other disruptive content” according to a dictionary.

S: Oh that can be very dangerous!

C: Yes she could be in real danger, but she tries to save herself and the book is about that too.

S: I see. Does it also describe the game itself?

C: Yes a little. It seems interesting; you fight people with swords, spears and so on.

S: You did finish the book rather quickly. Was it an easy read for you?

C: Not always. I did not know about doxing and so I had to figure that out. By asking you, my very trustable source. But the book is written in Reyna’s voice and in first person, so that was good, it made it easier to read.

S: I see. If you were to try and find three words to describe the book, what would they be?

C: Descriptive, because there are a lot of descriptions of the game, funny sometimes, and exciting because I wanted to know what would happen to Reyna so I kept reading. It is attention-snatching, it kept my attention.

S: I can see that! Would you recommend the book to other bunnies like yourself?

C: Yup. Some boys think girls can’t be good gamers, so maybe it would be good for them to read this book. Because Reyna is a very good gamer but also it is not nice to mistreat people just because they are a girl.

S: Thank you Caramel, I totally agree. So let us wrap up this review then. What do you want to tell our readers?

C: Stay tuned for more book bunny reviews!

Caramel enjoyed reading Last Gamer Standing by Katie Zhao and recommends it to all other little bunnies.
Caramel enjoyed reading Last Gamer Standing by Katie Zhao and recommends it to all other little bunnies.

Marshmallow reviews Save Me A Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan

Today Marshmallow chose to review Save Me A Seat, a 2016 novel by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan.

Marshmallow reviews Save Me A Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan.
Marshmallow reviews Save Me A Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan.

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

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): Joey’s friends move away at the same time that a new kid moves into town. The new kid Ravi has just moved to America from India. Joey hopes that the school bully Dillon (who calls Joey Puddy Tat and whom Joey suspects to be a kleptomaniac) will pick on the new kid. However, Dillon is also of Indian heritage, so Ravi wants to be friends with him.

Ravi does not know that Dillon is a bully. After Ravi answers a math problem on the board, Dillon trips Ravi, but pegs it on Joey. Also, when Ravi’s school materials fall to the ground, Joey and Ravi hit their heads when trying to pick them up. Joey considers befriending Ravi, but Ravi thinks that Joey has it in for him, and believes that Dillon is his friend. 

Ravi has an accent so his teacher, Mrs. Beam, thinks that he should go visit a special education teacher named Miss Frost. Joey has also been seeing Miss Frost, as he has Auditory Processing Disorder (APD). Ravi is angry that he is being sent to Miss Frost. He was top of his class in his previous school, and he has an IQ of 135, according to him. He believes that he is “not like” Joey. 

However, Ravi soon learns that Dillon is a bully when Dillon tricks him into trying meat, even though Ravi is a vegetarian. Dillon starts calling Ravi “Curryhead”. When this starts happening, Ravi realizes that at his school in India, he was like Dillon. He had bullied a student who had issues with reading. Ravi realizes that he is getting a taste of his own medicine.

Marshmallow is reading Save Me A Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan.
Marshmallow is reading Save Me A Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan.

Marshmallow’s Review: I think that an interesting feature of Save Me A Seat is that it is written in the perspective of two people. The chapters alternate between Ravi’s perspective and Joey’s. I believe that Sarah Weeks wrote the chapters for Joey, and Gita Varadarajan wrote the chapters for Ravi. This is similar to another book that I read, To Night Owl From Dogfish, where one author wrote the emails for one character, and the other author wrote the emails for the other. 

I think that the author for Ravi made an interesting choice. In Ravi’s chapter, the author tends to write lists like: 

“I want to say:
1. My English is fine.
2. I don’t need Miss Frost.
3. I was top of my class at Vidya Mandir.
But here is what I do instead:
1. Push up my glasses.
2. Rub my nose.
3. Sit down and fold my hands.”

(Vidya Mandir was his school in India.) It is interesting to see the events from the perspectives of both characters. For example, when Dillon trips Ravi, both Joey and Ravi retell the event differently.

Another interesting feature of the book is that all events take place in the course of one school week. The authors split the book into sections, one for every school day in the first week of school. The section titles tell the reader the day of the week and the school lunch that day (like Wednesday, Chili and Friday, Pizza). It gets you in the mood for school!

Marshmallow’s Rating: 95%.

Marshmallow rates Save Me A Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan 95%.
Marshmallow rates Save Me A Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan 95%.

Marshmallow reviews Hoot by Carl Hiaasen

Today Marshmallow reviews Hoot by Carl Hiaasen, published first in 2002 and awarded a Newberry Honor in 2003. Sprinkles read the book, too, and is asking questions to Marshmallow and taking notes as they go along.

Marshmallow reviews Hoot by Carl Hiaasen.
Marshmallow reviews Hoot by Carl Hiaasen.

Sprinkles: So Marshmallow, let us start with an overview of the book. What is the book about?

Marshmallow: It’s about this boy named Roy Eberhardt who has recently moved to Miami, Florida. One day while he is on the school bus, he sees a strange boy running outside without shoes. And the book is about him trying to find out who that boy is.

S: That sounds like the beginning of a good mystery. Would you say this is a mystery story?

M: Yes. It takes a while for Roy to figure out who that boy is and what is going on with him.

S: And then, the book is not yet over, though, right?

M: There is a second mystery in the book. There is a second narrator, besides Roy, who sees some other events happening, and he is also trying to figure out just what is going on. This one is a police officer named David Delinko.

S: And the two events end up being intertwined, right?

M: Yes. And things are tied in and resolved quite well at the end.

Marshmallow is reading Hoot by Carl Hiaasen.
Marshmallow is reading Hoot by Carl Hiaasen.

S: It sounds like you enjoyed reading this book Marshmallow.

M: Yes, I did. I thought the two mysteries being related was really neat, like a typical Nancy Drew story. Or like in the FunJungle series.

S: And I know you really liked both Nancy Drew stories and all the FunJungle books. So that is a compliment, coming from you!

M: Yes. I especially thought the plot was very interesting.

S: You wanted to add “bullying” to the tags for the post. Why is that?

M: Because there is an older boy at school who bullies Roy, and that is actually why Roy comes to notice the running boy. And then the bullying is related to how things evolve and are resolved, too.

S: The bully gets his comeuppance, right?

M: Yes, but I don’t want to give too much away.

S: I know. Okay, let us not say much more about that then. What else do you want to tell us about this book?

M: When you interview Caramel about books, you ask him for three words to describe the book. So I think three words that could describe this book are animal-friendly, fast-paced, and mystery. Or maybe I’d describe the book as “animal-friendly, fast-paced school mystery”. That’s not three words, but then again, I am not Caramel.

S: That makes sense to me, Marshmallow. And that is a good description of this book. We did not say much about the animal-friendly part but I suppose our readers might guess that from the title.

M: Yes, “hoot” is the sound owls make. So the readers might already guess there will be some owls somewhere.

S: Yes, I think that is quite reasonable. We rabbits may not like owls much, but the owls in this book are cute and lovable. Right?

M: Yes. They are nothing like Mr. Ocax in Poppy. They’re more like Rufus in Of a Feather.

S: Okay, Marshmallow, I think it is time for us to wrap up this review. What would you rate this book?

M: I’d rate it 95%. It is a good read and the two mysteries keep you wanting to read it fast.

Marshmallow rates Hoot by Carl Hiaasen 95%.
Marshmallow rates Hoot by Carl Hiaasen 95%.

Marshmallow reviews Starfish by Lisa Fipps

Every year the book bunnies have been taking July off. In her last review before this year’s summer break, Marshmallow decided to review Starfish by Lisa Fipps.

Marshmallow reviews Starfish by Lisa Fipps.
Marshmallow reviews Starfish by Lisa Fipps.

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

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): Eliana Elizabeth Montgomery-Hofstein hasn’t been called by her real name since she was five. The only people who call her by her real name are her parents, her best friend Viv, and her teachers. At school and at home, she is called Splash. This is because at her fifth birthday party, she jumped into her pool wearing a whale swimsuit and she made a large splash. Since then her classmates and even her siblings have been treating her terribly because she is larger than other kids. Her mother keeps trying to make her go on diets and even tries to make Ellie have bariatric surgery.

Sadly, Viv, Ellie’s best friend, has moved away. However, Ellie has found a new friend, Catalina, a girl who lives next to her but doesn’t go to her school. Ellie likes spending time with her new friend. She swims while Catalina plays her guitar. But her time at school is not so pleasant. When she walks in the hallways, everyone presses themselves against the wall because they are pretending that she is so big that she is squashing them against the wall. At home, her brother says mean things to her and her mother keeps telling her that she is too big.

Ellie tries to live by her “Fat Girl Rules”. Her “Fat Girl Rules” are stuff like, “You need to bully yourself as much as, if not more than, everyone bullies you.”, “You don’t deserve to be seen or heard, to take up room, to be noticed. Make yourself small.”, “When someone is laughing, they’re laughing at you.”, and “No making waves.”

Recently, Ellie has started to go to a therapist. Her therapist helps her deal with her emotions and process the events of her day. With her therapist, her father, and her friend, Ellie manages to brave through her life, even though it sometimes seems like everything is against her.

Marshmallow is reading Starfish by Lisa Fipps.
Marshmallow is reading Starfish by Lisa Fipps.

Marshmallow’s Review: I think that Starfish is a very moving book. It reminded me of another book I reviewed before: Blubber by Judy Blume. There, too, there was a girl who was bullied because of her size, though Starfish is narrated by the person being bullied.

Starfish is written like a poem, but it is free verse. I have not read too many books written in verse like this, but I think that it worked really well for Starfish. The poetry reminded me of the book I reviewed two weeks ago: Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson.

After reading this book, I read the author’s note, which says that everything in Starfish happened to her in some version or another. Since the author went through these experiences, she did a great job making the characters realistic and relatable. My favorite character is Catalina because she is a great friend and she is wise. But not only did the author make likable characters, she also made characters who are very unlikable. Everyone at school is mean to Ellie, but the main people who bully her are two girls and one boy. Ellie and Viv called them, Enemy Number 1, Enemy Number 2, and Enemy Number 3 (not in front of them though).

Marshmallow’s Rating: 100%

Marshmallow rates Starfish by Lisa Fipps 100%.
Marshmallow rates Starfish by Lisa Fipps 100%.