Marshmallow reviews The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

Today Marshmallow writes about The Phantom Tollbooth, written by Norton Juster and illustrated by Jules Feiffer. Marshmallow read the 50th Anniversary Edition of this 1961 classic.

Marshmallow reviews The Phantom Tollbooth, written by Norton Juster and illustrated by Jules Feiffer.
Marshmallow reviews The Phantom Tollbooth, written by Norton Juster and illustrated by Jules Feiffer.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you enjoy reading classics or appreciate books that make you think, then this might be the book for you. 

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): Milo is a boy who doesn’t want to do anything. He wants to be in school when he isn’t; when he is in school, he wants to be out of it. Then one day, he receives a large package. Inside is a small tollbooth. As he has nothing to do, he starts to play with the tollbooth and finds himself in a strange land when he drives his toy car through it. Luckily, the tollbooth came with a map of this place, and he was driving around in a small motorized car.

As he drives around in this new land, he goes to many strange places. In one place, he becomes friends with a literal watchdog, Tock, who is a dog with a clock on his side. He goes to the kingdom of Dictionopolis where he meets strange people and learns that Rhyme and Reason, two princesses, have been locked away in a Castle in the Air, because the king of Dictionopolis, Azaz the Unabridged, and the king of Digitopolis, the Mathemagician, who also happens to be Azaz’s brother, disliked one of their verdicts. The Princess of Pure Reason and the Princess of Sweet Rhyme were asked by Azaz the Unabridged and the Mathemagician whether numbers or letters were more important. When Rhyme and Reason said that both were equally important, the two kings banished the princesses.

Milo and Tock, accompanied by the Humbug, who was assigned to be their guide by Azaz, must go and rescue the two princesses. But unfortunately, demons and monsters guard the Castle in the Air. Milo, Tock, and the Humbug will need to journey across the “Land Beyond”, the name of the place Milo is in, to return Rhyme and Reason to their land. 

Marshmallow is reading The Phantom Tollbooth, written by Norton Juster and illustrated by Jules Feiffer.
Marshmallow is reading The Phantom Tollbooth, written by Norton Juster and illustrated by Jules Feiffer.

Marshmallow’s Review: The Phantom Tollbooth is a great read, especially if you like language and wordplay. I really like how the author Norton Juster plays with words, like how one character is a watchdog, that means he is a dog with a watch in its side. Another character, the Which, is sort of like a witch, her real name being Faintly Macabre, meaning faintly gruesome, grim, morbid, hideous, or horrific.

I think that the wordplay must be a very big part of why this book is so widely read. Another reason might be because it is good for all ages, not too complicated or scary, though some of the wordplay might not make sense for younger readers. (I did not get most of them when I read it years ago.) I would highly recommend this book to everyone. In fact, I think I will suggest Caramel to read it too, soon. 

Marshmallow’s Rating: 100%.

Marshmallow rates The Phantom Tollbooth, written by Norton Juster and illustrated by Jules Feiffer, 100%.
Marshmallow rates The Phantom Tollbooth, written by Norton Juster and illustrated by Jules Feiffer, 100%.

Marshmallow reviews Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper

Marshmallow recently read Over Sea, Under Stone written by Susan Cooper and first published in 1965. Today she is discussing it with Sprinkles.

Marshmallow reviews Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper.
Marshmallow reviews Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper.

Sprinkles: So Marshmallow, why don’t you start with a brief summary of what this book is about?

Marshmallow: Sure. Over Sea, Under Stone is about three kids, Barney, Simon and Jane. They are on vacation with their parents in Cornwall and are staying in an old house they rented together with an old family friend Great-Uncle Merry. Then they discover a mysterious map in a small room behind a wardrobe.

S: Oh, so like the kids in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, the first book written in the Chronicles of Narnia series, who find a new world within a wardrobe?

M: It is similar, but not quite the same. They do not go and find a new world inside the wardrobe. They find a map which allows them to see their own world through a new perspective.

S: How so?

M: When they show Great-Uncle Merry the map, he tells them of an ongoing war between good and evil, and that the warriors on both sides still are fighting it to this day.

S: Yes, this is a good summary I think. But this good versus evil fight is not as tied in with Christianity as it was in Narnia. Here, the good side is tied back to the King Arthur legends instead. It seems more directly connected to English lore. But the way you talked about the main characters, I also thought of a few other books you have reviewed for this blog. For example you reviewed Five Children and It by E. Nesbit and there too there were a few siblings that find something interesting during a family vacation. You also reviewed  Half Magic by Edward Eager which is similar.

M: Yes! And Half Magic by Edward Eager also involved the King Arthur legends in some ways.

S: So it seems like there is this genre of siblings, a handful of ordinary kids finding something extraordinary and then their lives change. Would you like that to happen to you and Caramel?

M: No!

S: Why not?

M: Possibly because they almost always get into real big trouble. Almost always there is a real big danger. And that’s not very appealing to me.

S: I see. But you seem to like reading about these kinds of things happening to other little bunnies. I guess you enjoy living vicariously through these characters’ adventures!

M: Yes! I will agree to that.

Marshmallow is reading Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper.
Marshmallow is reading Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper.

S: Apparently Susan Cooper, the author, wrote four more books about the same conflict between good and evil after this one, starting about ten years after having published this book. Together the five books make up the Dark is Rising sequence. Are you curious about those books?

M: Well, I am curious about what Cooper does with the world, but honestly I am not always too keen to read about female characters written in the time these books were written. They are almost always too stereotypical. I was disappointed with the female characters in Narnia, and here, too, I was disappointed that Jane always worried about cleanliness and her brothers always picked on her for being a girl.

S: I know what you mean. But I thought Jane was not too terrible. She did sense something was wrong with the Withers from the start. And the boys did eventually treat her a bit better. So maybe the other books will be a bit better?

M: I did read an excerpt of the second book at the end of this book and it seemed like there are a whole lot of new characters in there.

S: Yes, I think that is the case. I also heard that many people like that second book a lot. So we might just have to read it to see for ourselves, don’t you think?

M: Yes.

S: So let us wrap this up then. How would you rate this book?

M: Let me see. There was not much humor and the kids were a little too serious for me, I could not relate to any of them, but the story was quite intriguing and kept me wondering till the end.

S: Yes, it was quite stressful for me at times. I did think the author kept up the suspense well till the end.

M: I was not stressed myself but the story did work well. So I rate the book 95% and recommend it to other bunnies. Stay tuned for more book bunnies reviews!

Marshmallow rates Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper 95%.
Marshmallow rates Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper 95%.

Marshmallow reviews A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Today Marshmallow reviews a classic: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, first published in 1962. This is the first book of L’Engle’s Time Quintet.

Marshmallow reviews A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle.
Marshmallow reviews A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like classic science fiction or just like some of Madeleine L’Engle’s books, then this might be the book for you. 

Marshmallow’s Summary: Meg Murry wakes up on a stormy night and finds a mysterious guest in the kitchen. Soon Meg, her brother Charles Wallace, and her friend Calvin O’Keefe set off to find Meg and Charles’s father who was sent on a dangerous and secret mission. The Murry family stopped receiving letters from him and they had not seen him since.

The children set out to find Mr. Murry and the mysterious guest, Mrs. Whatsit, helps them with her friends, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which. Meg and her companions learn that there is an evil entity, the Black Thing, that is taking over the universe and that their father is in danger. They travel to the world in which he is captive and try to rescue their father. They face a man with red eyes, who can control the people who look into his eyes. Charles Wallace looks in his eyes intentionally and they manage to rescue Meg’s father, but Charles Wallace gets stuck on the planet. They have saved Meg’s father, but now they have to save Charles Wallace. 

Marshmallow is reading A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle.
Marshmallow is reading A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle.

Marshmallow’s Review: This is a very intriguing book because there are very interesting characters and the plot is very well written. My favorite character is Charles Wallace. He is very logical. He is also different from everyone else but he is ok with that.

I think that A Wrinkle in Time makes a great read for bunnies of all ages, but if the bunny is very young then there probably should be an older bunny reading the book to them because it is on the longer side. (It has 232 pages.) I think that A Wrinkle in Time is probably best for bunnies ages 8 and up because it may not be an easy read for younger bunnies. 

A Wrinkle in Time starts with a very famous sentence, Snoopy‘s favorite:

“It was a dark and stormy night.”

The sentence even has its own Wikipedia page! Apparently L’Engle used the sentence intentionally, even though it is seen by many as a cliche.

Madeleine L’Engle’s book has been made into a movie, twice. The first one was made in 2003. The second one was made in 2018. Caramel, Sprinkles, and I saw the movie in the theatre and we enjoyed it. Here is the trailer:

This is the trailer to the second movie. It was made in 2018, and was directed by Ava DuVernay.  

Madeleine L’Engle’s book is a classic and a great read for all ages. It is an entertaining read for all bunnies but also gets scary or sad at some points (more scary than sad). I really enjoyed reading it.  

Marshmallow’s Rating: 100%.

Marshmallow rates A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle 100%.
Marshmallow rates A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle 100%.

Caramel reviews The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary

Beverly Cleary is a prolific author and the book bunnies have read many of her books through the years. Last year, Marshmallow reviewed Beezus and Ramona, the first book by Cleary featuring one of her signature characters, Ramona Quimby. Today Caramel picks up the mantle and reviews The Mouse and the Motorcycle, written in 1965, the first book featuring Ralph S. Mouse. As usual, Sprinkles is taking notes and asking questions.

Caramel reviews The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary.
Caramel reviews The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary.

Sprinkles: So this week we are talking about a chapter book. This book has been sitting in your room for a while now. What made you decide to finally pick it up?

Caramel: Hmm, I don’t actually know. I just thought about reading it. I picked it up when I was sent to clean up my room.

S: Hmm, that worked out well, I suppose. So what do you want to tell us about it?

C: It has 186 pages, and then there are some extras. There is a note from Beverly Cleary. Then “Ralph answers some questions”, then “Ralph thanks the readers”, and then there is a section called “About the pictures in this book”.

S: Those sound interesting. But who is Ralph? I think we first need to clarify that.

C: Ralph is a mouse who lives in a knot hole in a hotel room, at the Mountain View Inn.

S: And that is supposedly in California, right?

C: I think so.

S: So what happens to Ralph? I’m guessing that he is the mouse in the title. Is that right?

C: Yes. He meets this boy named Keith. Keith has a toy sedan and a sports car, and an ambulance.

S: Does he also have a toy motorcycle?

C: Yes he does. And one day, Ralph tries to ride the motorcycle and falls in a waste bin.

S: That must be scary for him!

C: Yes it is.

S: Is that how he meets Keith?

C: Yes, and then they become friends. Apparently Ralph can talk, and Keith can understand him.

S: After all, this is fiction. We have seen talking animals before, right?

C: Yes, for example Babymouse talks!

S: And Verdi is a talking snake.

C: And we are talking animals!

S: That is true! We have discussed many other books where there are creatures that talk that are usually not expected to talk, at least to humans.

Caramel is reading The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary.
Caramel is reading The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary.

S: I liked reading this book, but if people want to watch instead, there is a movie of it apparently. Here it is:

YouTube link to The Mouse And The Motorcycle – (Full, 1986).

C: I like this book a lot too! And I’m looking forward to reading the next two books.

S: So there are two more books with Ralph in them?

C: Yes!

S: I think I have not read those. Maybe you will review them for our blog some time.

C: I will.

S: Okay Caramel, so it is time to wrap this up. Let us finish by rating it in three words. What three words would you use to describe the book?

C: Adventurous, imagination, funny.

S: I like those words! I think I could add: “sweet”, “unexpected”, and “friendship”.

C: I like those too.

S: Great! So let us wrap things up! What do you say?

C: Stay tuned for more book bunny reviews!

Caramel enjoyed reading The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary, and recommends it to all other young bunnies.
Caramel enjoyed reading The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary, and recommends it to all other young bunnies.