Caramel reviews Breathing is My Superpower by Alicia Ortego

Caramel is a young bunny who likes to read books, big and small. In this blog he has been reviewing picture books, graphic novels, chapter books, and even a couple middle grade books, blogging about whatever comes his way and strikes his fancy. This week he reviews a cute little book by Alicia Ortego published in 2020 titled Breathing is My Superpower. As usual, Sprinkles is taking notes and asking questions.

The book bunnies received this book as a review copy.

Caramel reviews Breathing is My Superpower by Alicia Ortego.
Caramel reviews Breathing is My Superpower by Alicia Ortego.

Sprinkles: Caramel, tell us a bit about this book, please.

Caramel: This is about a girl named Sophia. She gets angry and anxious a lot. And so her mom teaches her a technique to calm herself down.

S: What is this technique?

C: Breathing. Like in the title of the book.

S: I see. So Sophia can use breathing as a superpower, because it helps her calm down and not get too angry or anxious.

C: Yes.

S: This kind of reminds me of a book you reviewed a while back, Train Your Angry Dragon by Steve Herman.

C: Yep. I remember that book. It was about a dragon named Diggory Doo who was the pet dragon of a boy named Drew. And Drew was telling us how to help Diggory Doo calm down when he would be about to have a temper tantrum. So, yes, this book is kind of like that one.

S: Yes, you are right. But Breathing is My Superpower focuses exclusively on one technique.

C: Yes! And that is breathing.

S: You know, I tried it the other day, to do exactly as Sophia tells us, to use your hand and breathe five times, once per finger, and it worked really well to slow down my mind and take a break.

C: I tried it too, but I did not have the patience. I stopped at two.

S: Well, you were probably just breathing and counting, and you were not stressed, anxious, or angry, were you?

C: Yes that is true.

S: I think the breathing is a tool for times when you are feeling some of those strong feelings. It does work at those times. At least it did for me.

C: I guess I should try and remember that the next time I get annoyed at things.

S: Yes, I think it takes some practice to remember this kind of thing when you have strong emotions, but it is worth trying.

C: Okay, I will give it a try if you say so.

Caramel is reading Breathing is My Superpower by Alicia Ortego.
Caramel is reading Breathing is My Superpower by Alicia Ortego.

S: This book also reminded me a bit of Somewhere, Right Now by Kerry Docherty, which is a newer book that you reviewed this year. That, too, was about being calm in the midst of all the things going on around us.

C: True. Both books are also rhyming. Or at least this one is. I am not sure anymore if that other book rhymed.

S: Yes, the book has a simple rhyme which can make it more fun to read out loud.

C: Maybe we can read it together after the review? And apparently there are three more books in the series. They all have some new superpower in the title. There is Kindness, Acceptance, and Gratitude.

S: Hmm, I am guessing they too are about how kids can learn to manage big emotions. And the gratitude one sounds like it could help people play Pollyanna’s glad game

C: I did not read Pollyanna, but you mentioned her before.

S: Yes, Pollyanna is a fictional character, a little girl who makes up this game where she tries to find something to be happy about even when bad things happen.

C: That sounds hard.

S: I agree. So maybe breathing is not that hard in comparison.

C: Yes, I agree with that. But apparently I might need some practice with the breathing to remember to do it when I need it.

S: Agreed. So let us wrap this up with your three words for the book.

C: Colorful, rhyming, and smiling, because all the people in all the pictures are smiling.

S: Yes, I like those words. The book has a simple idea but it is an important one. So I am glad we read it. And maybe we can just read it together one more time after the review, like you said. What do you want to tell our readers at this moment?

C: Stay tuned for more book bunny reviews!

Caramel enjoyed reading Breathing is My Superpower by Alicia Ortego, and he recommends it to young bunnies and their adults to read together and discuss relaxation methods, practicing them along the way.
Caramel enjoyed reading Breathing is My Superpower by Alicia Ortego, and he recommends it to young bunnies and their adults to read together and discuss relaxation methods, practicing them along the way.

Caramel reviews Dragonslayer by Tui Sutherland

Caramel loves all things dragon, and has read and reviewed all fifteen books in Tui Sutherland’s Wings of Fire series. (His review of the fifteenth book, The Flames of Hope, contains links to all his reviews of the previous books.) Last week, he reviewed Darkstalker, the first of Sutherland’s “Wings of Fire: Legends” series that recounts some of the backstories and the legends of the world of dragons, in a way explaining and interpreting the events of the original series. Today he talks with Sprinkles about Dragonslayer, the second book in the Legends series, which was published, in 2020, in between books thirteen, The Poison Jungle (2019), and fourteen, The Dangerous Gift (2021).

Caramel reviews Dragonslayer by Tui Sutherland.
Caramel reviews Dragonslayer by Tui Sutherland.

Sprinkles: Caramel, last week you reviewed Darkstalker by Tui Sutherland, tbe first book of the “Wings of Fire: Legends” series, and here we are today, with the second book. What do you want to tell us about it?

Caramel: It is as good as Darkstalker, but it is very different from all the other Wings of Fire books because its main characters are humans this time, and not dragons.

S: That is interesting! The dragons call humans “scavengers”, right?

C: Yup.

S: Why is that?

C: I don’t know. They never really explain.

S: Maybe it is a way to show us how the dragons see humans, as weak creatures skulking about, and trying to steal treasure or food when they can.

C: Maybe.

S: Okay, sorry for the distraction. Tell me more about Dragonslayer.

C: Okay. There are three main characters in this book, just like in Darkstalker. They are called Ivy, Leaf, and Wren. My favorite is Wren, because she is a strong female character, and she can talk to dragons, which I think is awesome.

S: I think she is abandoned by the other humans so makes friends with a dragon, right?

C: Yes, that’s more or less accurate. And Leaf is Wren’s brother but thinks she is dead. Everyone thinks Wren is dead. They tried to feed her to the dragons, but they messed up.

S: So they wanted to sacrifice her somehow?

C: Yes, exactly. So the humans live in villages, and they end up causing the war that was the main topic of the first five books in Wings of Fire. They kill the SandWing queen Oasis, and so a war begins among the SandWings to choose a new queen between her three daughters, Blister, Blaze, and Burn.

S: I remember that was the main problem in the Dragonet Prophecy story arc.

C: We even see the dragonets in their cave in this book! In fact we even see Kestrel, the female SkyWing who was one of their guardians. And we see Kestrel’s other child, Peril’s brother. It’s pretty cool.

S: So you would benefit from having read the first five books before reading this one, right?

C: I guess. But I think you could even start with this book if you wanted to. It does not say anything about the prophecy.

S: But I guess if you started the Wings of Fire series with this book, you would probably get the wrong idea. Because this one is all about humans and told from their perspective. And all the other books are about and from the perspective of the dragons. So Dragonslayer is in some ways quite peculiar among all the other books, right?

C: Yes. And I am not sure I love that it is about humans. I do like the series because I really like the dragons and I want to learn about their world.

S: Still, maybe one book out of seventeen so far being centered around some human characters might be acceptable?

C: Yes. I am not really complaining. I like the book. But maybe I like the ones told from the dragons’ points of view a bit more.

Caramel is reading Dragonslayer by Tui Sutherland.
Caramel is reading Dragonslayer by Tui Sutherland.

S: So you told us a bit about the main characters, and you told us that one could read it any time in parallel with the other books in the series —

C: Well, they should probably read it before the fourteenth book, The Dangerous Gift.

S: Why is that?

C: Some of the characters show up as important characters in the last two books, and so it would be helpful to know their backstory. And actually, some of them apparently show up even earlier, in The Brightest Night, the fifth book. But I read the whole series before the Legends, and that worked well, too.

S: I see. So can you tell me in one sentence or two what the story is about? What are Ivy and Leaf and Wren doing?

C: The story tells us the human version of the events in Pyrrhia. But also Leaf and Ivy are looking for Wren, because at some point Leaf realizes Wren is not dead.

S: Who is the Dragonslayer in the title?

C: It is Ivy’s father. He is known as the dragon slayer because he apparently has slayed dragons in his youth, but Ivy eventually learns a lot more about him. We also read about how Wren learns to communicate with a dragon so that there might be some hope for humans and dragons to live in harmony.

S: Hmm, so this could eventually merge with your other favorite dragon story, the How to Train Your Dragon series, where humans and dragons are living in some sort of cooperative relationship, at least the TV series version?

C: Well, I think that could be neat. But then again, I also like that the dragons in Pyrrhia and Pantala can tell their stories independent of the humans. So I don’t need that to happen; I don’t need dragons and humans to become friends. The dragons are cool the way they are. But maybe they could be less cruel to humans.

S: I agree. So let us wrap things up with your three words for this book.

C: Human, amazing, funny. Human because there are humans as main characters now. And all the books in the series are amazing! And they are funny!

S: Those will work. What do you want to tell our readers now?

C: Stay tuned for more book bunny reviews!

Caramel enjoyed reading and rereading Dragonslayer by Tui Sutherland so many times, the book is already showing some wear-and-tear, but it is clear that even this will not stop him from continuing to read and reread his favorite series over and over again.
Caramel enjoyed reading and rereading Dragonslayer by Tui Sutherland so many times that the book is already showing some wear-and-tear, but it is clear that even this will not stop him from continuing to read and reread his favorite series over and over again.

Caramel reviews Darkstalker by Tui Sutherland

Caramel is a big fan of Tui Sutherland’s Wings of Fire series and has already read and reviewed all fifteen books in the series. [In fact, he reviewed some of them twice! See his review of the very first book of the series, The Dragonet Prophecy, and then its graphic novel version, The Dragonet Prophecy.] Today he reviews Darkstalker, a book in Sutherland’s Wings of Fire: Legends series, that was published in 2016, in between books eight (Escaping Peril, 2015) and nine (Talons of Power, 2016). As usual, Sprinkles is taking notes and asking questions.

Caramel reviews Darkstalker by Tui Sutherland.
Caramel reviews Darkstalker by Tui Sutherland.

Sprinkles: So here we are again, back with the dragons of Tui Sutherland’s Wings of Fire series. Please tell us a bit about this book, Caramel.

Caramel: This book is about Darkstalker and his friends Fathom and Clearsight. He is a half-NightWing, half-IceWing hybrid.

S: I did not know there were hybrids in this world That’s cool.

C: Well, he is one of the very few that we saw so far.

S: I see.

C: Fathom is a SeaWing and was born in the Sea Kingdom. Clearsight is a full NightWing, born in the Night Kingdom, and she has the ability to see the future. Actually she does not see one future, but every single possible timeline in the future.

S: Well, does she know which will come to happen?

C: No, because a tiny tweak in an event today can change the future.

S: So the future is not determined yet.

C: True. What I say today, say I like pizza, maybe that will change someone’s view and that will change the future, because that person will decide to go out for pizza one day instead of something else. And see, I just changed the world.

S: Hmm, I see. It is cool. But so she does not quite have the sight, but can see all possible consequences. Like a really good chess master.

C: Kind of. Back to Darkstalker though. He also has a sister, named Whiteout. She is a hybrid too but looks a lot more like an IceWing. And she plays a big role in turning Darkstalker evil.

S: Yes, I seem to recall this Darkstalker, and he was bad.

C: Yes, he was mentioned in the fifth book, The Brightest Night, and showed up for real in the books of the second arc. He is only mentioned in Moon Rising, but rises from the ground in Winter Turning, and then he is present in the rest of the books of that story arc. And he is evil.

S: So the main character of this particular book is not a nice character.

C: Well, his friends Fathom and Clearsight are also main characters, and they are much better.

S: But the book is named after Darkstalker, so we learn a lot about him in it, right?

C: Yes, we see his rise and fall, how he becomes very powerful and then loses it all. He can’t die, he makes himself unhurtable, and then makes himself immortal. But the good dragons figure out a way to neutralize him and it involves Jade Mountain. But I won’t say more.

S: Maybe it is good because you are already giving away a lot of plot clues and spoilers!

C: Okay, so I will stop talking then.

S: No, don’t stop talking. Let us just move away from the plot and onto other things.

C: Sure.

Caramel is reading Darkstalker by Tui Sutherland.
Caramel is reading Darkstalker by Tui Sutherland.

S: Remember this book got out in between books eight and nine. Is the story happening in the time between those two books?

C: No, it is more like a backstory. The events in Darkstalker happened two thousand years ago and they explain his origins.

S: That is interesting. So is he at all a likeable character?

C: Well, he is evil, and he kills his own father, so I don’t think so. But we do learn his part of the story, and you can see how he slowly gets worse and worse as he becomes more and more powerful.

S: I see. Then if you had read this before reading Moon Rising, too much would be spoilt, because there, at least in the beginning, Moon does not yet know Darkstalker is evil.

C: Well, actually he makes himself look like he became good.

S: I can see how readers of the regular series might like to learn more about this ancient evil character. So did you enjoy the book?

C: Yes. Without a doubt. These legends books are neat. You get to learn a lot more about the world of the dragons.

S: So maybe you will tell us about the other legends book some time.

C: Yes, I had to read it as soon as I finished this one. So maybe we can talk about it next week.

S: We will see. But now it is time to finish this review. Can you give me three words to describe the book?

C: Handy-dandy. That means convenient and useful. It tells you how Darkstalker became evil so it is informative. And very interesting.

S: Okay, those are good words to summarize your thoughts and feelings about this book. Thank you. What do you want to tell our readers as we wrap things up?

C: Stay tuned for more book bunny reviews!

Caramel enjoyed reading Darkstalker by Tui Sutherland and learning some more of the backstory of the characters of his beloved Wings of Fire series. He's clearly not done with this series!
Caramel enjoyed reading Darkstalker by Tui Sutherland and learning some more of the backstory of the characters of his beloved Wings of Fire series. He’s clearly not done with this series!

Caramel reviews The Menagerie: Kraken and Lies by Tui Sutherland and Kari Sutherland

Caramel is a big fan of Tui Sutherland’s Wings of Fire series. After some cajoling, a couple weeks ago, he finally dove into Sutherland’s Menagerie series, cowritten with Kari Sutherland. And he has already read and reviewed the first book (The Menagerie) and the second book (Dragon on Trial). Today he wraps up the series with a review of the third book: Kraken and Lies. As usual, Sprinkles is taking notes and asking followup questions.

Caramel reviews The Menagerie: Kraken and Lies by Tui Sutherland and Kari Sutherland.
Caramel reviews The Menagerie: Kraken and Lies by Tui Sutherland and Kari Sutherland.

Sprinkles: So this was book three of the Menagerie series. What did you think?

Caramel: It’s a good book!

S: I thought so too. Actually I liked this third book the most.

C: I didn’t. I think they were all good.

S: Yes, I do, too, but I kind of liked this one most because I thought it was so rich, and the authors tied up all the loose ends really well.

C: I agree. They did tie up a lot of loose ends. We even learned how and why the dragon was framed in Dragon on Trial.

S: You are very close to giving away a little too much Caramel. But yes, the unresolved issues from the earlier books all got cleared away in this one. But it was not only about resolving old issues, was it?

C: No, you are right. There is of course a new problem, a big one. Zoe’s ex-best-friend Jasmine’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Sterling, apparently know about the Menagerie and are scheming some evil plot to expose and exploit it.

S: Yes, that is a big existential threat for the Menagerie, right? Nobody is supposed to know about it, and the Sterlings were supposed to have drunk kraken ink and forgotten all they had seen and learned about the Menagerie.

C: Well, Mr. and Mrs. Sterling were supposed to not know about the Menagerie. But apparently Jonathan, Jasmine’s brother, dated Zoe’s sister Ruby, and Ruby told him about it. And then Jonathan tried to steal a jackalope. And a jackalope is kind of like a jackrabbit, but it is not a regular one. Its body looks like a rabbit but it has antlers! But also they are magical creatures, and their milk can cure any illness. And they can imitate human voice and fool humans!

S: Yes, they are cool! But back to Jonathan and Ruby.

C: Oh yes. So they have to break up and Jonathan has to drink the kraken ink to forget everything about her and the Menagerie, but the family all has to drink the kraken ink so they can all forget about Ruby as well. So it is very strange that they now know about the Menagerie. And they are only interested in money so they will want to exploit it. And in the middle of all this, Logan’s mom is still missing and the Sterlings seem to have something to do with it…

Caramel is reading The Menagerie: Kraken and Lies by Tui Sutherland and Kari Sutherland.
Caramel is reading The Menagerie: Kraken and Lies by Tui Sutherland and Kari Sutherland.

S: Yes, that is correct. I think you described the central conflicts and plot problems of this book well, Caramel. So tell me, were there any new mythical creatures other than the jackalope that showed up?

C: There is Sapphire, a relative of Blue. She is a merperson.

S: Yes we saw merpeople before, though, no?

C: Well, here we see them a lot better because they go on a strike.

S: That is true; that part was very interesting.

C: And then we get to see the kraken a lot more up close.

S: That is true too.

C: And there is a Chinese dragon!

S: Yes! And the Chinese dragon has a pearl, a special pearl that holds its magic powers.

C: Yeah, that is true.

S: Did you know that Marshmallow has read and reviewed a book titled Dragon Pearl? You might actually like the book. It has all kinds of things you like: mythology, dragons, space ships!

C: Yes, that book sounds like just the kind of thing I would like to read. Maybe I will ask her to lend it to me.

S: I think she would be happy to share. But there were other magical mythical creatures in this book, no?

C: Yes, there was a selkie! A seal person!

S: Yes, that was a nice surprise, wasn’t it?

C: Yes, but now you are the one doing all the spoiling, Sprinkles!

S: Okay, okay, I’ll stop. So let us wrap things up then. Overall, did you like the Menagerie books?

C: Yes I liked them a lot. They are very different from the Wings of Fire books, but they are just as funny! And they are really cool, and I still think Squorp, the griffin cub, is the best ever!

S: Yes, I know. Okay, give me three words to describe the books and we are done.

C: Funny. And breath-taking, because I had to hold my breath a lot of the time, trying to see what would happen next.

S: And your third word?

C: Well-written. I thought the story flowed really well and always kept me on my toes.

S: True. I agree with that. So I think it is time to close this chapter of our lives and say good bye to the Menagerie and our friends Logan, Zoe, and Blue. How do you want to end this review Caramel!

C: By saying my usual words: Stay tuned for more book bunny reviews!

Caramel enjoyed reading The Menagerie: Kraken and Lies by Tui Sutherland and Kari Sutherland and recommends the whole series to all the little bunnies who like magical and mythical creatures.
Caramel enjoyed reading The Menagerie: Kraken and Lies by Tui Sutherland and Kari Sutherland and recommends the whole series to all the little bunnies who like magical and mythical creatures.