Caramel reviews A Kids Book About Racism by Jelani Memory

Caramel has already reviewed two books from the A Kids Book About ... series: A Kids Book About Change by David Kim and A Kids Book About Empathy by Daron K Roberts. (You can read more about the series here.) Today he is reviewing the first book in the series: A Kids Book About Racism, written by Jelani Memory. Sprinkles is asking questions and taking notes, as usual.

Caramel reviews A Kids Book About Racism by Jelani Memory.
Caramel reviews A Kids Book About Racism by Jelani Memory.

Sprinkles: So Caramel, we just read the book together. Can you tell our readers what this book is about?

Caramel: It’s about racism. That’s what it says on the cover too.

S: That’s true. So what does it tell you about racism?

C: It tells you what racism is.

S: So what is racism?

C: Someone may be mean to someone else because of the color of their skin. Here is the definition the book gives:

“Racism means to hate someone, exclude them or treat them badly because of their race or because of the color of their skin.”

Caramel is rereading the definition of racism in A Kids Book About Racism by Jelani Memory.
Caramel is rereading the definition of racism in A Kids Book About Racism by Jelani Memory.

S: The book makes it clear that racism is about treating people badly because they are different. But it also says that being different is actually good. Right?

C: Yes. Because if we are different we can offer other people more. Like.. let me read from the book: “help, ideas, strengths, skills, creativity..”

S: So what does that mean? Is being different better, like if you are different from others, then are you better than others?

C: No, that’s not what this means. This means if people are different from one another, then they have more ideas, they can help one another, and they can share.

S: Yes! I agree. I too interpreted that part the same way. Being different allows you to see things differently. And then you can bring a new perspective to a problem, you can share experiences that others may not have had, so they will be able to learn from you. And similarly you can learn from them. But the book also tells us how it makes someone feel to face racism, how people are sometimes made to feel so small just because they are different. How can you try and help people who are being treated badly because of racism?

C: You can try to include friends who look different when you are playing. Or when someone is mean to them, or exclude them from their game. You can invite them to join yours.

S: I like those ideas Caramel. A while back, we read a book by Sonya Sotomayor called Just Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You which was also about how being different can be a valuable thing, right?

C: And Marshmallow reviewed a book called Wonder about a kid who looked very different and so his friends did not treat him too nicely. A lot of people are different in different ways. And it is not nice to treat them differently just because they are different. Why can’t you just treat everyone nicely?

S: Good question Caramel. It seems like people are a bit scared of others who are different.

C: I guess so. But it is not a good thing to do that!

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

C: Helpful. Because it makes me think about different people. And let me see. Other words… Hmm. Black and white and red and orange and brown.

S: Hmm, that makes more than three words, but those are the main colors that show up in the book. You are right. I’d also say it could be a good starting point for little bunnies and their adults to talk about some difficult topics. Because racism is still around us —

C: Yes, there is that one page where there are a lot of “racism”s copied and pasted all over the place.

S: That’s true. That is a good way to show visually that racism is everywhere, pretty visible to many people who have to face it every day. But then there is also a page with 242 “really”s, and that page was fun, right?

C: Yes. It was fun to count! We counted them together!

S: Well, we did some basic arithmetic, so hopefully we got it right. But anyways, I do think this book could be a good conversation starter. So what do you say to end this review?

C: Stay tuned for more book bunny reviews!

Caramel appreciated reading A Kids Book About Racism by Jelani Memory and thinks he has a better sense of what racism means now.
Caramel appreciated reading A Kids Book About Racism by Jelani Memory and thinks he has a better sense of what racism means now.

Caramel reviews Out of Darkness: The Story of Louis Braille by Russell Freedman

Today Caramel wanted to talk about Out of Darkness: The Story of Louis Braille, written by Russell Freedman and illustrated by Kate Kiesler. As usual Sprinkles is taking notes and asking questions.

Caramel reviews Out of Darkness: The Story of Louis Braille, written by Russell Freedman and illustrated by Kate Kiesler.
Caramel reviews Out of Darkness: The Story of Louis Braille, written by Russell Freedman and illustrated by Kate Kiesler.

Sprinkles: Caramel, tell me a bit about this book.

Caramel: This book is about the life of Louis Braille. Braille is the person who invented the Braille alphabet. The Braille alphabet is used by people who cannot see to read and write.

S: Did you know about him before reading the book?

C: No. I had heard of the Braille alphabet, and I thought it was probably invented by someone named Braille, but I did not know anything else about Braille.

S: So you learned about his life from this book. Tell us about him a bit.

C: Louis Braille was not born blind. He could see at some point but when he was four, one of his eyes got poked out and his other eye got infected and he lost both.

S: Yes, I read that part too. It is a sad accident that leads to the loss of one eye and the infection on the other eye. It is really sad.

C: Yes very sad. And also because the infection could probably be cured today.

S: Yes. It is possible. But he was living in the first half of the nineteenth century, and they did not have antibiotics or anything else to fight infections with.

C: Yes. They did use leeches for some medical purposes, which is weird.

S: Yes, I think so too. But apparently they still use leeches for some medical purposes!

C: I did not know that! That is so strange. I learn something new every day!

Caramel is reading Out of Darkness: The Story of Louis Braille, written by Russell Freedman and illustrated by Kate Kiesler He is on the page where the Braille alphabet is being described. .
Caramel is reading Out of Darkness: The Story of Louis Braille, written by Russell Freedman and illustrated by Kate Kiesler He is on the page where the Braille alphabet is being described. .

S: Tell me more about the book.

C: If you like biographies, you would probably like this book. It is about a young person doing some really big and important things. Like inventing an entirely new alphabet! And he was also blind!

S: Yes, but maybe being blind, he knew what would help him better than seeing people who assumed that everybody should use the same alphabet. In the book we learn that Louis as a student learns about a writing system devised by an army captain and then modifies it in novel ways that would make it practical and easy to learn and use.

C: Yes. The government and the school do not want to use his system at first.

S: Yes, first his school has a headmaster who likes his ideas but once he is replaced, the new director bans its use.

C: The students already had been using it, but the new headmaster bans it. So they still use it, but in secret.

S: Yes, it is a very interesting story, isn’t it?

C: Yes, it definitely is. But it is also very sad.

S: Why do you say that?

C: Because he works so hard to develop this alphabet, he works when everybody is sleeping. But then people do not want to use it.

S: But in the end things work out, don’t they?

C: Yes. But he also dies.

S: Yes, people do die, but you are right that his death is sad too.

C: He dies from tuberculosis, and we can cure it today, right?

S: Yes, that is true and it is indeed sad. But at least he knew his alphabet was being used and was much appreciated by then. So what three words would you use to describe this book?

C: Fascinating, biography, black-and-white illustrations.

S: Hmm, that is a few more words than three, but I’ll let it be. What do you want to tell our readers as we wrap up this review?

C: Stay tuned for more book bunny reviews!

Caramel has appreciated reading Out of Darkness: The Story of Louis Braille, written by Russell Freedman and illustrated by Kate Kiesler, and recommends it to other little bunnies who might like to learn about a young person who overcame big obstacles and achieved great things.
Caramel has appreciated reading Out of Darkness: The Story of Louis Braille, written by Russell Freedman and illustrated by Kate Kiesler, and recommends it to other little bunnies who might like to learn about a young person who overcame big obstacles and achieved great things.

Marshmallow reviews Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Today Marshmallow reviews a book that her school teacher introduced her to: Wonder by R.J Palacio.

Marshmallow reviews Wonder by R.J. Palacio.
Marshmallow reviews Wonder by R.J. Palacio. 

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like books about school and friendship, then this might be the book for you. 

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): August (Auggie) Pullman was born with health issues that caused him to look very different from a lot of other kids. He had been homeschooled because he would get sick and possibly die if he went to school with other children. But now that he is stronger, his parents are now trying to get him to go to Beecher Prep, a private school. At first he is reluctant but eventually decides to go.

The principal, Mr. Tushman, introduces him to three kids who take him on a tour of the school: Julian, Jack Will (Jack is his first name, and his last name is Will, but for some reason people sometimes call him Jack Will), and Charlotte. Charlotte and Jack are nice enough, but Julian asks questions like, “what happened to your face?” and “was your face burned in a fire?” But on the bright side, August likes Jack Will and wants to be friends with him. 

When August starts school, people try not to touch him or be next to him. At lunch, nobody wants to sit with him, not even Jack Will. But then a girl named Summer comes over and sits with him, and they become friends. Jack Will and August eventually become friends, too. Then on Halloween, August comes as a Bleeding Scream, not a Boba Fett (August is completely obsessed with Star Wars) as he said he would. He sits at a different desk and he overhears Julian and two mummies (he assumes they are Miles and Henry, two of Julian’s friends) saying mean things about him. But then he recognizes one of the mummies, and it is not Henry or Miles.

Marshmallow is reading Wonder by R.J. Palacio.
Marshmallow is reading Wonder by R.J. Palacio.

Marshmallow’s Review: Wonder is a great book for bunnies of many different ages. I think that it is especially meant for bunnies of ages 8-13 but it can still be enjoyed thoroughly by bunnies younger and/or older than that. Even grownup bunnies would enjoy reading it! (I am still trying to convince Sprinkles and Caramel to read it.)

A very interesting thing about Wonder is that different people narrate its different parts. For example. the first section is narrated by August, the second by August’s sister, Via (short for Olivia who looks like other kids), the third by Summer, and the fourth by Jack Will. And then there are many more sections. It is fun to read a book written in first person from many people’s perspectives, especially since their writing style is different.

Wonder has also been made into a movie though I have not seen it yet. Here is the trailer for it if you are interested: 

The trailer for the movie Wonder.

Wonder is a great book also because the plot is well-written and well thought-out. The characters are well-developed and really realistic. R. J. Palacio has created:

“A crackling page-turner filled with characters you can’t help but root for.”

­­­­Entertainment Weekly

Marshmallow’s Rating: 100%.

Marshmallow rates Wonder by R.J. Palacio 100%.
Marshmallow rates Wonder by R.J. Palacio 100%.

Caramel reviews From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea by Kai Cheng Thom

For his first review back, Caramel grabbed a book from a pile of books on Sprinkles’s desk for which she has been planning a joint review and decided he wanted to review it. The book From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea, written by Kai Cheng Thom and illustrated by Wai-Yant Li and Kai Yun Ching, is about a young child and their identity. As usual Sprinkles is taking notes and asking questions—and she is still planning a review of the remaining books on her pile on this topic for the near future.

Caramel reviews From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea, written by Kai Cheng Thom and illustrated by Wai-Yant Li and Kai Yun Ching.
Caramel reviews From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea, written by Kai Cheng Thom and illustrated by Wai-Yant Li and Kai Yun Ching.

Sprinkles: So Caramel, you grabbed this book from my pile and decided you want to review it yourself. Why?

Caramel: I like it. I like the creatures in it. The illustrations.

S: You are right, the illustrations are neat. They have beautiful colors and they remind one of being in a dream.

C: This book is a good book if you like mythical animals.

S: Okay, I see what you did there. That is the kind of thing Marshmallow says about books when she is reviewing them. But where do you find mythical animals in this book?

C: In the pictures!

S: Tell me more about the book Caramel.

C: There is a child named Miu Lan in this book. They are not a boy nor a girl.

S: Are they a mythical creature themselves then?

C: Sort of. Basically they are.

S: But not really, right? Because this can happen sometimes, and a child may not feel like they are a boy or a girl or a little bit of both or neither.

C: Yes, but I think Miu Lan is actually a mythical creature, because they can change their form when they want. When they want to, they can grow a turtle shell and porcupine quills.

Caramel is looking at the pages in From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea (written by Kai Cheng Thom and illustrated by Wai-Yant Li and Kai Yun Ching) where Miu Lan is going to school for the first time and they are so excited that "they grew a tail of peacock feathers and a coat of tiger stripes".
Caramel is looking at the pages in From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea (written by Kai Cheng Thom and illustrated by Wai-Yant Li and Kai Yun Ching) where Miu Lan is going to school for the first time and they are so excited that “they grew a tail of peacock feathers and a coat of tiger stripes”.

C: And they can also fly!

S: Yes, I love how they have scales and feathers or wings or stripes as they wish. It is pretty exciting to think about. But do you really think they are doing those things when they claim they are?

C: Probably not. But it would be cool if we could do that, wouldn’t it?

S: I think so, too. I’d especially like to be able to fly.

C: As bunnies we can at least jump pretty high…

S: Again, true. But back to Miu Lan. I don’t think they are a mythical being any more than you or me. But there are two little creatures that show up on each page that look like mythical beasts themselves.

C: Yes. There is a dog with a fish tail, or maybe a whale tail. I don’t know. I think that is the best creature in the book.

S: There is also a poem that the mother sings to her child every other page and we hear it resonate through the story, like in a retelling of a myth, where you would have repeated verses. Can you read that poem to me?

C: Okay let me find it. Ah, here we go:

whatever you dream of,
i believe you can be,
from the stars in the sky to the fish in the sea.
you can crawl like a crab or with feathers fly high,
and i'll always be here, i'll be near, standing by,
and you know that i'll love you till the day that i die. 
whatever you dream of,
i believe you can be,
for you are my child, courageous and free. 

S: That is beautiful Caramel, isn’t it?

C: Yes but it is not the best sleeping poem, because I don’t think I want to think of you dying before I go to sleep.

S: I can see that, but saying “I’ll love you till I die” is something people say when they love someone so deeply and so unconditionally, that they want to make sure the person knows their love will always be there as long as that person lives. I can see how the death part might be off-putting. Other than that, do you like the poem?

C: Yes. Other than the death part I like it.

S: So the book is about this child Mui Lan who is different from other children in their school and they try to fit in and find friends and have some difficulties.

C: Yes. But in the end things work out. They do make friends.

S: That is true. This is a beautiful story. Maybe I will read it to you again tonight.

C: Yes, yes, yes, yes, I’d like that!

S: So now are we ready to wrap up this review?

C: Yes! Stay tuned for more book bunnies reviews!

Caramel enjoyed reading and looking at the pictures in From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea, written by Kai Cheng Thom and illustrated by Wai-Yant Li and Kai Yun Ching.
Caramel enjoyed reading and looking at the pictures in From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea, written by Kai Cheng Thom and illustrated by Wai-Yant Li and Kai Yun Ching.