Marshmallow reviews Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

Today Marshmallow reviews another classic, Island of the Blue Dolphins, by Scott O’Dell, first published in 1960. She has been reading a school copy of this book with her class and she was fascinated to learn that the story was based on a real young Native American girl who lived alone for many years on San Nicolas Island during the 19th century.

Marshmallow reviews Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell.
Marshmallow reviews Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like books about finding friends in unexpected places, or young people surviving very difficult situations, then this might be the book for you. 

Marshmallow’s Summary (with spoilers):  Twelve-year-old Karana has lived on the Island of the Blue Dolphins for all her life with her family. So when her father, the chief, is killed, her tribe’s new chief decides that he will leave the island. He does not return and then white missionaries come and tell them that they need to pack up and get on their ships. When the boats are leaving, Karana realizes that her brother Ramo is not on any of the boats. When she runs to find him, she learns that he had left to find his fishing spear. Then they realize that the ships have left without them. 

Later while they are on the island alone, Karana leaves to collect needed items and comes back to find Ramo dead. Wild dogs had killed him and so she decided that she would take revenge on the wild dogs. So she builds weapons, which is against her tribe’s laws because women are not allowed to make weapons. So as she continues to try to get revenge she eventually makes friends with one of the wild dogs, whom she names Rontu.

Eventually she makes a hut (my favorite part) and a fence around it to make something sort of like a yard. And so she gets used to living on the island. But still she wonders if the ships will return.

Marshmallow is reading Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell.
Marshmallow is reading Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell.

Marshmallow’s Review: This is a sad and well-written book. It is so sad how Karana’s father and brother die and she is left alone on the island without any one else. I felt really sad that Karana was left alone and she had to survive all by herself.

Island of the Blue Dolphins is a very moving book that every bunny should read at some point. It is a very good book for (probably older) readers. It might be sad for younger ones.

Reading Island of the Blue Dolphins can make the reader wonder what they would do if they were in Karana’s situation. I think that it would be very difficult for me to do all she has done, especially to build a house all by myself because I’m a bunny.

The book shows that humans can be very cruel to each other because people who had come to hunt otters on Karana’s island killed Karana’s father. But it also shows that humans can be very resourceful because Karana is very young but manages to survive on the island all by herself.

Marshmallow’s Rating: 95%.

Marshmallow rates Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell 95%.
Marshmallow rates Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell 95%.

Caramel reviews Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

Today Caramel decided to review an old favorite of the book bunnies household: Harold and the Purple Crayon, written in 1955 by Crockett Johnson.

Caramel reviews Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson.
Caramel reviews Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson.

Sprinkles: So Caramel, what do you want to tell us about Harold and his purple crayon?

Caramel: It’s a very cute little story.

S: What is the story about?

C: It’s about this little baby, who is four years old. He goes out for a walk in the moonlight.

S: Did you go for walks in the moonlight when you were four?

C: No.

S: So how is Harold able to go out and walk in the moonlight?

C: Maybe he doesn’t listen to directions.

S: Hmm. If that were the main explanation for the story, I’m not sure all parents would love to read it to their little ones. Can there be another explanation?

C: Maybe he just likes walking. And as he walks, he creates things.

S: So can you think of a time when you could create things as you wished?

C: Yesterday, when I was doodling. I have been doing the Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems! And I was also wearing my blue bodysuit, just like Harold.

S: So do you think Harold is really going out for a walk? Is he really ever leaving his bedroom?

C: Hmm, when you say it that way. Probably not. Maybe he is imagining that he is creating things with his purple crayon.

S: Yeah, kind of like how you create things when you doodle! And so what kinds of things does Harold create or find on his way?

C: He decides to have a forest but then he doesn’t want to get lost so his forest has only one tree. He makes it into an apple tree. Or it turns out, as the book says.

Caramel is reading two of his favorite pages in Crockett Johnson’s Harold and the Purple Crayon where Harold decides the tree he drew is an apple tree.

S: This is indeed a very sweet story. Did you know that a short film of this story was made too?

C: No. But we did just find it on Youtube:

A cartoon retelling of Crockett Johnson’s Harold and the Purple Crayon.

S: Yes, this was slightly different from the book, though, right?

C: Yeah, the porcupine shows up in the film much earlier than the moose. But in the book they show up on the same page, right after Harold is done with his picnic. His part of the picnic. He doesn’t finish everything, there is a lot of pie left.

S: Hmm. In the picnic Harold has nine types of pies, all his favorites. What are your favorite pies Caramel?

C: Cherry! I like cherry pie most. I also like lemon cake.

S: Ok, then what happens in the end? Does he finally go to sleep?

C: Yep. And so it is also time to wrap up our review. So stay tuned for more book bunny reviews!

Caramel still enjoys reading Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson and recommends it to all little bunnies and their grownups.
Caramel still enjoys reading Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson and recommends it to all little bunnies and their grownups.

Caramel reviews Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

Today Caramel reviews the 1972 classic Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, written by Judith Viorst and illustrated by Ray Cruz. As usual Sprinkles is taking notes and asking followup questions.

Caramel reviews Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, written by Judith Viorst and illustrated by Ray Cruz.
Caramel reviews Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, written by Judith Viorst and illustrated by Ray Cruz.

Sprinkles: Why don’t you start by telling us what this book is about Caramel?

Caramel: There is this boy named Alexander. This day for him is very bad. I read the book a few times, and we also just read it together last night, didn’t we Sprinkles?

S: Yes, we did. So why is Alexander’s day a bad one?

C: It starts out bad.

S: How?

C: He trips on his skateboard, and he had gum in his mouth when he fell asleep, so when he gets up, it is in his hair.

S: That’s terrible!

C: There’s more. His jacket falls into the sink while the water is still running and gets all wet. And then both his brothers get toys from their morning cereal and he only finds cereal in his box. Nothing else.

S: Hmm. That sounds like an unlucky day!

C: Yes, it is very unlucky for him.

S: So the whole book is about this very bad, no good day, right?

C: Yeah. It is sad for him. I sympathize with him.

S: How so?

C: I sometimes have bad days too. Don’t you know that Sprinkles?

S: Of course. We all have bad days sometimes.

C: And his is especially bad. His friends all get nice desserts in their lunch boxes, and he gets nothing for dessert. And his brother makes him fall down in the mud, and when he punches him, he gets caught and his mom scolds him. For being muddy and fighting. I’m mad at his brother, too.

S: Well, you are right. He should not have pushed Alexander into the mud. But you and Marshmallow also fight sometimes, right?

C: But it’s rare. And we never pushed each other into the mud.

S: Hmm. I guess here in this blog we should not admit to too many family secrets.

C: Yes. Family secrets! I like that.

S: Ok, so let us get back to Alexander. I know you actually have some mixed feelings about this book. Can you share a bit?

C: Ok. I’ll share my true feelings about it. I like it and I don’t like it.

S: Can you say a bit more?

C: The reason I don’t like it is because it is sad for him. Alexander really has a really bad day. And I like it because it’s kind of funny.

Caramel is reading Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, written by Judith Viorst and illustrated by Ray Cruz.

S: It is funny, true! And it is actually quite a realistic book, right? We read a lot of books where people always solve all their problems and end up happy and such. But in real life, sometimes things don’t go our way, and for no good reason, and we get frustrated and feel bad.

C: Or mad. Or both at the same time. Which is never the best of feelings.

S: So maybe the book can help a reader feel a bit better if they are having a bad day themselves. What do you think?

C: I think it could help. He is obsessed about Australia.

S: Yes, he wants to drop everything and …

C: And go to Australia!

S: As if that will solve his problems…

C: It won’t. But what if he did go to Australia?

S: well, it would not really have helped. That is what his mom says in the end right?

C: Right. She says some days are really bad, and even in Australia! I don’t really understand why he is so obsessed with Australia though.

S: I guess when he is so frustrated, he wants to get away from his problems, as far as possible. And Australia sounds far…

C: Probably it is. It is far from us! But it is not far for people who are already living in Australia.

S: That’s correct. But as Alexander’s mom says, people in Australia also have bad days.

C: Yes. Everybody has bad days sometimes. So for such days, you can read this book. Or just go to sleep. Like I will do now.

S: Ok, that sounds right to me. Why don’t we wrap this up then?

C: Ok, let’s. Stay tuned for more reviews from the book bunnies!

Caramel recommends Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, written by Judith Viorst and illustrated by Ray Cruz to all the little bunnies who might be having a bad day.
Caramel recommends Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, written by Judith Viorst and illustrated by Ray Cruz to all the little bunnies who might be having a bad day.

Caramel reviews The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper

Caramel often likes to reread books he used to read when he was a much younger bunny. Today he reviews one of his very old favorites: The Little Engine That Could, by Watty Piper (aka Arnold Munk), with new art by Loren Long. As usual Sprinkles is taking notes and asking followup questions.

Caramel reviews The Little Engine That Could, by Watty Piper, with new art by Loren Long.
Caramel reviews The Little Engine That Could, by Watty Piper, with new art by Loren Long.

Sprinkles: I haven’t seen you with that book for a while Caramel.

Caramel: True. I haven’t read it in a long time. But this is a good book if you like helping and trains.

S: And you do like both helping and trains! No wonder you like this book!

C: It is an awesome book. I love the pictures and the whole story!

S: So what is it about?

C: It’s about a train full of things for good boys and girls and it’s going over a mountain. But its engine breaks.

S: Oh, that is sad. Then what happens?

C: All the toys are very sad. They want to get to the good boys and girls and make them happy.

S: Then what happens?

C: A lot of trains pass by and they don’t help the train. Until this little blue engine comes along, and her name is really Little Blue Engine!

Caramel is reading The Little Engine That Could, by Watty Piper, with new art by Loren Long.
Caramel is reading The Little Engine That Could, by Watty Piper, with new art by Loren Long.

“I’m not very big,” said the Little Blue Engine. “They use me only for switching trains in the yard. I have never been over the mountain.”
“But we must get over the mountain before the children awake,” said all the dolls and the toys.
The very little engine looked up and saw the tears in the dolls’ eyes. And she thought of the good little boys and girls on the other side of the mountain who would not have any toys or good food unless she helped.
Then she said, “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.” And she hitched herself to the little train.

S: Yes, this book is a classic, first published in 1930, and the part where she says “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.” is really famous. Why do you think so Caramel?

C: Because it makes people want to help other people.

S: Yes, even though the Little Blue Engine is small and inexperienced, she decides to try and help. That is quite nice. And she can help because she thinks she can. So it’s also about …

C: … believing in yourself! And this is probably the eleventh time I read this book!

S: I think you and I together read this about that many times Caramel!

C: Hmm, I guess I must have read it a lot more times then.

S: Would you recommend it to other little bunnies and their big people?

C: Yes I would. It is a fun book to read with your big people. In our case it is you of course Sprinkles.

S: I know. I have always loved reading this book to you. I liked repeating “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.”

C: “Puff Puff Chug Chug!” It sounds like the train chugging along.

S: Yes, it really does sound like a train, doesn’t it?

C: Yes! And I love trains! But this is all for this week! Stay tuned for more book bunnies adventures!

Caramel recommends The Little Engine That Could, by Watty Piper, with new art by Loren Long, to all little bunnies and their big people.
Caramel recommends The Little Engine That Could, by Watty Piper, with new art by Loren Long, to all little bunnies and their big people.