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.

Marshmallow reviews Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater

Recently, Marshmallow reread the 1939 classic, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, which is about a man (Mr. Popper) that is sent a penguin by an Arctic/Antarctic explorer (Admiral Drake). This was one of the first full-length books Sprinkles and Marshmallow read together. Written by Richard Atwater and Florence Atwater, and illustrated by Robert Lawson, the book still amused Marshmallow and she wanted to write about it for the book bunnies blog.

Marshmallow reviews Mr Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater, illustrated by Robert Lawson.
Marshmallow reviews Mr Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater, illustrated by Robert Lawson.

Marshmallow’s Overview: If you like books that are about penguins, then this might be the book for you.

Marshmallow’s Summary: One day, Mr. Popper of Stillwater, Minnesota, received in the mail a penguin. The penguin was mailed to him by the famous Antarctic explorer Admiral Drake. Mr. Popper often dreamed of polar explorations, and he had written to Admiral Drake about penguins.

Mr. Popper named the penguin Captain Cook because he kept on making a funny sound like “cook” when he came out of the box and because Mr. Popper loved explorers. (Captain Cook was named after a famous explorer named James Cook.) Mr. Popper had the fridge emptied so then Captain Cook could live inside of it. But soon the penguin started getting sick. Mr. Popper learned from the zoo that maybe Captain Cook was lonely. Then the zoo sent him a female penguin named Greta, and Captain Cook was no longer alone.

Soon Captain Cook and Greta had a family. After some time they had a total of twelve penguins to feed and Mr. Popper decided he needed to find a way to take care of them. He trained then to do tricks like climbing up and down a ladder or marching when Mrs. Popper played the piano. Eventually the penguins became a part of the Popper family. 

The back cover of the book summarizes the story well:

It was hard enough for Mr. Popper to support himself, Mrs. Popper, Bill and Janie Popper. The addition of twelve penguins to the family made it impossible to make both ends meet. Then Mr. Popper had a splendid idea. The penguins might support the Poppers. And so they did.

Marshmallow is showing the back cover of Mr. Popper’s Penguins, written by Richard and Florence Atwater, and illustrated by Robert Lawson.

Marshmallow’s Review: I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is a really cute book. It is also a classic, a timeless tale that will definitely warm the reader’s heart.

This is a great read for those who are looking for a book about penguins. It is a fiction book so it does not have facts about the intriguing species of different penguins, like the Blue Fairy Penguin or the Emperor Penguin, but Captain Cook and the rest of the his penguin family will entertain and intrigue the reader to learn more about penguins. (These flightless birds are adorable!) I especially liked how the authors made the penguins realistic and gave them personalities. For example, Captain Cook is a very curios penguin who likes to explore everything that he can lay his wings on. 

I also like the pictures in the book that show the events in the book happening. The pictures are like photos that are snapped right when the events are happening. For example, in one of the scenes Mr. Popper trips on Captain Cook’s leash and the picture in him falling down to the sidewalk he is walking on while Captain Cook is waddling away from the scene. 

Marshmallow is pointing at one of the illustrations in Mr. Popper's :Penguins, written by Richard and Florence Atwater. The illustrations were made by Robert Lawson.
Marshmallow is pointing at one of the illustrations in Mr. Popper’s Penguins, written by Richard and Florence Atwater. The illustrations were made by Robert Lawson.

I think that this book is for any age and is an easy read. Even so it is a book that will make people want to read and reread it over and over again because it is such a sweet story. It is, like I said an easier book to read, so I think it would be great for ages 6-9 but I think that adults would also enjoy it. 

Marshmallow’s Rating: 100%.

Marshmallow rates Mr Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater 100%.
Marshmallow rates Mr Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater 100%.

Marshmallow reviews Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Marshmallow reviews Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, first published in 1868.

Marshmallow occasionally picks up classic children’s books. This time she wanted to talk about Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, first published in 1868. Sprinkles is asking questions and taking notes. There are some spoilers in the discussion so reader beware!

Marshmallow reviews Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.
Marshmallow reviews Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.

Sprinkles: A lot of people have read Little Women before you. It is a classic from 1868, and now it will be the oldest book you have reviewed. We had not gone into the nineteenth century before this. The oldest book you reviewed before this was from 1902.

Marshmallow: Pippi Longstocking was also kind of old. But you are right, this book is old.

S: Does its age show?

M: Yeah. All sisters get married and even the tomboy of the family, Jo, ends up wanting to get married. It seems like they cannot just have a girl who doesn’t want to marry.

S: It does seem a little constraining, that is true. But of course at the time this book was written, women did not really have too many options.

M: I understand but I still wish the author could have offered other alternatives, at least to one of them (Jo).

S: That is true. The author seems to have modeled Jo after herself to an extent, and she, the author that is, was never married.

M: Yes, I did wish Jo had not gotten married. And it seemed that they all got married so early!

Marshmallow is reading  Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.
Marshmallow is reading Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.

S: Ok, maybe it will make sense for us to try and piece together a timeline of sorts for what happens when. So at the beginning …

M: There are four sisters, Meg March, Jo March, Beth March, and Amy March.

S: At the start of the book their ages are 16, 15, 13, and 12. And they all have very distinct personalities, right? Can you tell us a bit about them?

M: Let me read to you the synopsis from the book jacket:

There’s Meg, at 16 the oldest, who longs for a rich life full of beautiful things and free from material want. Next comes Jo, the willful and headstrong tomboy, who plans to become a writer and who retires to the attic when “genius burns.” Gentle, music-loving Beth, “the pet of the family,” is delicate and sweet. And fashionable Amy, the youngest of the four, is artistic, beautiful, spoiled, and in a hurry to grow up.

S: And the first part of the book (the first twenty-three chapters), which was published as a stand-alone book on itself in 1868, ends a year later, when the girls are 17, 16, 14, and 13. So they are still pretty young, but they are looking towards great things.

M: And the next part of the book is actually three years later. In Chapter 24 the author writes: “The three years that have passed have brought but few changes to the quiet family.”

S: According to Wikipedia, this second part was initially published separately under the title “Good Wives”, a title picked by the publisher. Then starting in 1880, the two books were published as one, under the title Little Women. But in any case, now how old are the sisters at the beginning of this part?

M: Meg is 20, Jo is 19, Beth is 17, and Amy is 16. It is sad though. Beth dies in this book! And she is so young!

S: Yes, a lot of the main events in this story are related to the author’s own life. Louisa May Alcott apparently had a sister Elizabeth, who died around the age that Beth in the book dies. And Jo seems to be modeled after the author herself.

M: Yes, Jo is the writer of the family after all! But it is still so sad that Beth dies. And it is even sadder that there was a real Beth who died so young too.

S: That is true. Life can be cruel sometimes. But there are happy parts of the book, too, no?

M: Yes. The book is not all about sad things. Meg has twins and she loves them and enjoys her time with them. And they are really funny kids.

S: So maybe this is a good place to stop the review, on a note of joy and hope. Do you have some last words for our readers?

M: This book is interesting and its plot is detailed and complex. Even though it is an old book, I can see why it is still a classic. I would definitely recommend other bunnies to check it out!

Marshmallow rates  Little Women by Louisa May Alcott 95%.
Marshmallow rates Little Women by Louisa May Alcott 95%.