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%.

Marshmallow reviews Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary

Marshmallow reviews Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary.

Through the years, Marshmallow has enjoyed reading several books by Beverly Cleary, the prolific writer of children’s books. Below she writes about Beezus and Ramona, the first book of Cleary featuring Ramona Quimby written in 1955.

Marshmallow reviews Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary.
Marshmallow reviews Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary.

Marshmallow’s quick take: If you like books that are about siblings or have enjoyed reading some of Beverly Cleary’s other books before, then this book might be for you.

Marshmallow’s Summary (with spoilers): Beezus (or Beatrice really, but everyone calls her Beezus) and Ramona Quimby are two sisters who are sometimes nice to each other and sometimes not. Four-year-old Ramona annoys her big sister Beezus a lot. For example when Beezus’s friend comes over, Ramona knocks their checker game over. Then she sticks her doll into Beezus’s birthday cake while pretending to be Gretel. After Ramona writes her name on every page on a library book that Beezus checked out for Ramona, Beezus is really very annoyed. As you can see Ramona is not a very nice little sibling.

Marshmallow is pointing at the page where we see some of Ramona's scribbles.
Marshmallow is pointing at the page where we see some of Ramona’s scribbles.

Ramona is a very realistic annoying sibling. For example, when she finds a lot of apples in the basement, she takes one bite out of each apple and then starts another one. The Quimby family has some exciting times, like when Ramona invites her whole nursery school class to a party without asking her parents if she could.

The author, Beverly Cleary, wrote this book as part as a series featuring Ramona, Beezus, and her friends. In fact Ramona did not come to be a central character till about ten years later when she wrote Ramona the Pest, in 1968.

Marshmallow’s review: I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is an old book, published even before my parents were born, but it is still a good read for readers who like books about sibling problems.

Beezus and Ramona is a classic like some other books that I have reviewed earlier, such as Half Magic and Five Children and It. It is also very funny and will make a lot of people laugh, like when Ramona powders her nose with marshmallows she calls “powder puffs”.

This is the first of a series of books by Beverly Cleary featuring Ramona Quimby. It is also one of my favorite books from the author. Ramona is very funny in this book. Some of my other favorite books by Beverly Cleary include Ramona the Pest, Ramona the Brave, The Mouse and the Motorcycle, Henry and Ribsy, Ellen Tebbits, Henry and Beezus, and Ramona’s World. I like these books because they are funny, well written, and realistic.

The drawings in the book add to the story’s description.

One thing I really enjoy about Beverly Cleary’s books is that they end well. In Beezus and Ramona the story ends… well I don’t want to spoil the end but let’s just say it ends well.

Marshmallow’s rating: 95%.

Marshmallow rates Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary 95%.
Marshmallow rates Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary 95%.

Marshmallow reviews Five Children and It by E. Nesbit

Marshmallow reviews Five Children and It, a novel by Edith Nesbit first published in 1902.

Marshmallow wanted to talk about E. Nesbit’s book Five Children and It today. Sprinkles is asking questions and taking notes.

Marshmallow reviews Five Children and It by E. Nesbit.
Marshmallow reviews Five Children and It by E. Nesbit.

Sprinkles: So Marshmallow can you tell us a bit about this book?

Marshmallow: Cyril, Anthea, Robert, Jane, and Lamb the baby dig a hole to reach Australia. While they are digging, they find a strange creature called Psammead (a sand-fairy) that can grant wishes. At the beginning, the children wish to be as beautiful as the day and to have a lot of gold but then they realize that they must be more careful when they are making wishes. Whenever they make a wish, they always end up in trouble.

S: Oh, does this book remind you of another?

M: It’s kind of similar to Half Magic by Edward Eager. Just like in that book, the children find this object or fairy that grants them wishes and they eventually find that they need to think carefully about what they will wish for.

S: So what more can you tell us?

M: This is an interesting book that will beg the question, “If you could wish for anything. what would you wish for?”

I thoroughly enjoyed reading it because it was interesting how when the children wished for something like to be beautiful or when they wished to have wings, there was a problem. For example, when they wished to be “as beautiful as the day” after they tried to interact with their baby brother Lamb (whose real and full name is Hilary St. Maul Devereux). They then change and Lamb does not recognize them because they look different. Also when they try to go to their house their nursemaid does not let them in because they look different and not like their old selves. They get very hungry and thirsty and they realize that it was not a great idea to have wished to be “as beautiful as the day.”

S: What more do you want to say?

M: This is a very entertaining book, and very well written. It will make you want to read on to learn what wish the children make next.

S: Yes, they do make some strange wishes, don’t they? What did you think of the illustrations?

M: I thought the pictures were very successful.

Marshmallow is pointing out one of the many illustrations in Five Children and It by E. Nesbit.
Marshmallow is pointing out one of the many illustrations in Five Children and It by E. Nesbit.

S: And you have some thoughts on the characters?

M: Yes! Especially I liked the fact that the children act like children. Kind of like in the Ivy + Bean books!

S: This is a very old book. It could be the oldest book you have read. What do you think of that?

M: It is an old book. It does have some stereotypes, like girls always cry, and boys never do. But overall it is a good book.

S: Ok, so what would you have wished for if you had met Psammead?

M: I don’t know. What would you wish for?

S: I don’t know, either. It is a hard question, without all the challenges this particular sand-fairy brings. Maybe I’d wish for some good meal, or a good night’s sleep. Something simple like that… Or I could wish for a good book to read. This was one, you say?

M: Yes! I’d rate it 95%. And I really want to add this last sentence: Stay tuned for more book bunnies reviews!

Marshmallow rates Five Children and It by E. Nesbit 95%.
Marshmallow rates Five Children and It by E. Nesbit 95%.