Marshmallow reviews Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs 

A while ago, Marshmallow and Caramel watched the 2016 movie Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and were quite disturbed by it. Only recently did Marshmallow come across the book which the film was based on: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, written by Ransom Riggs and published in 2011. To her surprise, she found it to be a quite satisfying read and decided to review it for the blog.

Marshmallow reviews Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.
Marshmallow reviews Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.

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

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): As Jacob was growing up, his grandfather Abraham always told him the most extraordinary stories about a house for peculiar children who each had special powers. This home was special, run by a bird who smoked a pipe. The children in the home were peculiar; some could fly, some were extremely strong, and the rest had other unnatural skills. But there were monsters after the children, and the monsters wanted to eat them. As Jacob grew older, he began to doubt the truth in these stories. That is, until he saw the monsters for himself.

Early in the book, Abraham is killed by the monsters that he used to talk about and suddenly everything changes. Abraham’s last words are “Find the bird. In the loop.” In an effort to make sense of these events and his grandfather’s final words, Jacob visits the children’s home. Unfortunately, the home he finds is not the bright paradise his grandfather described; rather it is a destroyed shell of a house because it was bombed on September 3, 1940. Jacob’s grandfather had uttered that exact date with his last breath. Upon further investigation and some excitement, Jacob is brought as a prisoner to the children’s home by some of the children. There he meets the “bird”, Miss Peregrine, who takes care of the peculiar children. Jacob’s grandfather’s stories were all true. And unfortunately, that means the monsters are real too. 

Marshmallow is reading Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.
Marshmallow is reading Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.

Marshmallow’s Review: As mentioned above in the preamble, I had watched the 2016 movie Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children before I read this book, so I had a sense of what to expect. Here is the trailer if you have not seen the movie yet (certain aspects in the movie differed from the original story and book):

I had enjoyed the movie but was a bit disturbed by it. In the end I think that the book is as good as the movie, if not better.

I really enjoyed reading Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children because it has a fascinating premise, and the plot is quite intriguing and original. There is humor and action, all intertwined with a lot of strange, peculiar things going on.

I would say that Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is for readers older than 12 or 13. There are a lot of (unnecessary) bad words, and some of the events may be a little scary for younger bunnies. (That may have been the reason why Caramel and I were so unsettled when we watched the movie version.) There was some amount of kissing too, which may be uninteresting for some people.

The book has a lot of photographs (in black and white) that are all mentioned and talked about in the book. And the photos are all displayed. I found it amazing that the photos fit so perfectly with the story. As far as I understand, the author wrote the story based off these photos he found. I found the photos added nuance as they’re not something you see in a novel everyday. However, a couple of the photos (specifically pg 263) might be disturbing for younger bunnies, yet another reason why this book may be better suited for 13 and above.

All in all, I found Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children a fascinating book to read, and I look forward to reading the next book. 

Marshmallow’s Rating: 95%

Marshmallow rates Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs 95%.
Marshmallow rates Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs 95%.

Marshmallow reviews The List of Things That Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead

Marshmallow has already reviewed When You Reach Me (2009) and Goodbye Stranger (2015) by Rebecca Stead. Today she reviews Stead’s newest novel, published in 2020: The List of Things That Will Not Change.

Marshmallow reviews The List of Things That Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead.
Marshmallow reviews The List of Things That Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like books about family and you want to read about how different characters tackle change, then this might be the book for you. 

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): When Bea’s parents tell her that they are getting divorced, they give her a green notebook. In it is a list of things that won’t change, even though almost everything else might:

  1. Mom loves you more than anything, always.
  2. Dad loves you more than anything, always.
  3. Mom and Dad love each other but in a different way.
  4. You will always have a home with each of us.
  5. Your homes will never be far apart.
  6. We are still a family but in a different way.

Her parents’ divorce is amicable; the reason for the divorce is that Bea’s father is gay.

After the divorce, Bea’s life splits in two different parts, sometimes living with her mother and sometimes with her father. Later, her father gets engaged with another man, Jesse. Bea really likes Jesse and looks forward to him becoming a part of the family. Not to mention that Jesse has a daughter Bea’s age named Sonia, and Bea has always wanted a sister.

But Bea has other issues to face. She has eczema which is annoying to her, and she goes to therapy to deal with her stress. Everything is now different, but Bea keeps herself up by talking with her friends and family, who are always there to support her. Bea and her family will struggle to reach their happy ending. 

Marshmallow is reading The List of Things That Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead.
Marshmallow is reading The List of Things That Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead.

Marshmallow’s Review: I found this a touching book. Bea is very thoughtful, and this book really highlights and goes into her thoughts and feelings. It was sad to see how some of the folks in the book mistreated Bea’s father and his new partner because of their sexual orientation.

The List of Things That Will Not Change was extremely realistic and felt very down to earth when I was reading it. Every character was unique and well thought-out, and the narrative and tone of the book felt very genuine. That said, I don’t quite think the end was one hundred percent fulfilling, but it was definitely satisfactory. However, I did like how all the loose parts were tied up in the end. I also found it interesting how not everything was perfect in the end but it was realistic. (I’m not going to say much more!)

The List of Things That Will Not Change would be appropriate for all ages, presuming that the person would understand the plot, which I felt was easy enough to understand, though it had some extra nuances for an older reader who would see all the threads from beginning to end.

Bea’s relationship with Sonia might remind some readers of a book I reviewed a while ago: To Night Owl From Dogfish by Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wolitzer. There are indeed some similarities but also a lot of differences. Bea’s health issues reminded me a bit of Guts by Raina Telgemeier, another book I reviewed for the blog. And compared with the other books I have read of Rebecca Stead, the tone and voice of this book was very similar. The setting and tone were more reminiscent of When You Reach Me, but the realism was quite like that of Goodbye Stranger. But The List of Things That Will Not Change has definitely a unique and original story, and I really enjoyed reading it; I think most bunnies would, too. 

Marshmallow’s Rating: 95%.

Marshmallow rates The List of Things That Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead 95%.
Marshmallow rates The List of Things That Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead 95%.

Caramel reviews Five on a Treasure Island by Enid Blyton

This past month, Sprinkles was excited to introduce Caramel to one of her favorite series from her childhood, the Famous Five, the classic children’s adventure book series written by the prolific British author Enid Blyton about four children and their dog Timothy. Today, Caramel shares his thoughts on Five on a Treasure Island, the first book about these five characters, published first in 1942, exactly eighty years ago. The book bunnies read the beautiful color edition from 2015 with illustrations by Babette Cole and Quentin Blake.

Caramel reviews Five on a Treasure Island, written by Enid Blyton and illustrated by Babette Cole and Quentin Blake.
Caramel reviews Five on a Treasure Island, written by Enid Blyton and illustrated by Babette Cole and Quentin Blake.

Sprinkles: So Caramel, I was so happy to read this book together with you!

Caramel: Yes. We read a chapter a night, more or less, and it was sometimes not easy to wait the whole day for the next chapter.

S: I know, right? Some of the events get you nervous and make you want to know what will happen next, and quickly.

C: I thought you had read this book before Sprinkles? Didn’t you remember what would happen?

S: Well, yes, I did read it, but many many years ago, and I knew of course that the kids would come out of their adventures safe and sound, but I did not remember at all how that would come to be.

C: Especially when they got locked up in the dungeon —

S: Wait! Let us not give away too many details. But maybe it would be a good idea to start from the beginning with the plot of the book so our readers can get a good idea abut what it is all about.

C: Okay. So there are three kids, Julian, Dick, and Anne, and they are siblings. They go visit their cousin George. Actually she is named Georgina, but she wants to be called George.

S: I see. This reminds me that a couple years ago, Marshmallow reviewed a book titled George, about a transgender child and her struggle to be accepted as who she is. People called her George but she wanted to be called Melissa. And it is important to call people by the name they would prefer, right?

C: Obviously. It is only the kind thing to do. And if you don’t they will be upset.

S: So yes, let us call the fourth character in our book George. But the book title promises us five characters. Who is the fifth one?

C: Tim, who is a dog. He is George’s dog, pretty much, though her family does not want her to keep Tim, so she has another boy take care of him most of the time.

S: Okay, these five remind me of Scooby Doo and the five characters there. Did you know that some folks think that people who created Scooby Doo were inspired by the Famous Five?

C: I had not thought about that! But that is kind of neat! I like Scooby Doo! So this is really interesting. I can even see some resemblances…

S: Hmm, we can speculate, of course. But let us get back to the book. Alright, so we now know who the famous five are. What is the treasure island about? Tell us more about the story.

C: George does not seem too nice at the beginning, but eventually, they become close. The three siblings learn about the nearby Kirrin Island, George says it is hers, and then the kids think that there may be some treasure hidden somewhere on the island. They figure out that there are supposed to be many “ingots of gold” there, according to a very old map.

S: And so the four kids and Tim the dog go and try to find the treasure, right?

C: Yes. And of course they get into trouble. There is someone who wants to buy the island and get the treasure for himself.

S: Yes, so there is some tension about this guy, who does not seem to be an exceptionally nice person.

C: Yes, he locks them up in the dungeon of the dilapidated castle.

S: Wow Caramel, that is a big word! But you are also giving away some of the major plot twists! So maybe it is time to stop talking about the plot.

C: Okay.

Caramel is reading Five on a Treasure Island, written by Enid Blyton and illustrated by Babette Cole and Quentin Blake.
Caramel is reading Five on a Treasure Island, written by Enid Blyton and illustrated by Babette Cole and Quentin Blake.

S: How about talking about the main themes of the book next? Do you remember what is a theme in a book?

C: It is a main idea, or it can be a moral of the story sometimes.

S: Yes, that is right, Caramel. So what ideas or themes do you think would be the main themes of Five on a Treasure Island?

C: I think friendship is one. George is not used to having friends, she is used to being alone, on her own all the time. But then she becomes good friends with the three kids, and she realizes how much better life is with friends.

S: Right! You would agree, right?

C: Yes, of course. Life is much better with friends!

S: Okay, other than friendship, can you think of another theme?

C: Maybe cooperation and team work? Because the children solve the mystery together and then save one another.

S: I think that makes sense! Those are two good themes for this book. Hmm, let me ask you a couple other questions before we wrap things up, Caramel. First of all, I told you this is a pretty old book. It might be the oldest book you have read before now.

C: Not quite. I read The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper and that was from 1930. But you are right, this is one of the older books I have read.

S: You are right, that book was older. But this one is pretty old too. And I wanted to ask you if you could tell. Did you think the book aged well? Or did you think it was very dated?

C: Well, I think the boy name Dick is not as common these days. And the kids sometimes use words strangely. For example Dick says “Rather!” and “Blow!” when he is excited and they say George’s mom is a “brick” and they mean she is awesome! So those were some interesting words, and made me think the book is from a different time. Or different place. Because different versions of English seem to have different idioms and slang words.

S: That’s right Caramel, that is a very good observation. Those words were unfamiliar in those uses for me too. But perhaps they used to be more common in 1940s in Britain. They did feel strange to us in the 2020s of course!

C: Right. And Anne was a bit too much of a crybaby, and seemed like what girls were supposed to be like and so George did not want to be a girl like that. She wanted to run and swim and do all the things that were supposed to be boy things. But today boys and girls can do all sorts of things. So that is also a bit different.

S: I agree Caramel. Those are good observations. Would you say that the book was fun to read though?

C: Yes, it was a lot of fun to read. And I think even younger bunnies, much younger than myself, could enjoy it if their grownups read it to them.

S: Again, I agree Caramel. And I am so happy you read this book and enjoyed it. Okay, one last question: What did you think about the illustrations? This was a special color illustration edition. And the illustrators are pretty established in their craft. Did you find them engaging?

C: Yes. They were very colorful. And there is one picture where they had a lot of bunnies watching the kids. That is my favorite. It is drawn almost from the bunnies’ point of view.

S: So it is perfect for us book bunnies.

C: Yep. That is why I posed for my photo above with that page open.

S: I love that Caramel! Okay, time to wrap this up then. What will you tell our readers now?

C: Stay tuned for more book bunny adventures!

Caramel enjoyed reading Five on a Treasure Island, written by Enid Blyton and illustrated by Babette Cole and Quentin Blake, and is curious to learn more about the five friends and their other adventures.
Caramel enjoyed reading Five on a Treasure Island, written by Enid Blyton and illustrated by Babette Cole and Quentin Blake, and is curious to learn more about the five friends and their other adventures.

Marshmallow reviews Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Marshmallow found a copy of a Charles Dickens novel, Great Expectations, in her classroom library and decided to check it out. Just like many other novels by Dickens, Great Expectations was first published as a serial, weekly from 1860 to 1861, and then came out as a single three-volume book in 1861. Below Marshmallow shares her thoughts on this classic.

Marshmallow reviews Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.
Marshmallow reviews Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like books that are set in past time periods or if you enjoy coming-of-age stories, and if you are up for a really long read, then this might be the book for you. 

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): Philip Pirrip (nicknamed Pip) is an orphan in the mid-early 19th century in Kent, England. His parents are dead but his much older sister (Georgiana Maria, though she is always referred to as Mrs. Joe) takes care of him. Unfortunately, she disciplines him very harshly, which was the norm back then. She is married to a blacksmith, Joe Gargery, who is kind and whom Pip views as a father figure. The story starts when Pip is around seven and he is visiting the graves of his parents and other siblings. There he unexpectedly meets an escaped convict who threatens to kill him unless he brings food and tools. Pip does so, but then soldiers arrive and ask Joe to mend some shackles. Pip comes with the soldiers and they find the convict fighting with another convict. The first one says that he stole the things that he ordered Pip to steal.

After this bizarre event, the narration moves on and we skip ahead a few years. In a couple years, a rich elderly woman is looking for a young boy to come visit her. Pip is chosen and so he starts going to her house every now and then. This woman is Miss Havisham who has an adopted daughter named Estella. Miss Havisham is a strange woman: she was supposed to be married, but when her fiancé left her at the altar, she froze everything where it was. She was still wearing her wedding dress and the clocks were all stopped to the time she learned she was abandoned. Miss Havisham raised Estella to be her revenge on the male part of the human species. Estella was raised to be heartless and break mens’ hearts. And Pip was to be her first victim. Pip falls in love with Estelle, leading to a great heartbreak throughout Pip’s life. 

Many years later, when Pip has been training to be a blacksmith, like Joe, he is given money to allow him to become a gentleman and he travels to London. It is presumed that Miss Havisham was the one who gave him the money. Pip’s life transforms many times into different things. This book follows his life through most of it from a young age to his older years. 

Marshmallow is reading Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.
Marshmallow is reading Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.

Marshmallow’s Review: Great Expectations is a highly regarded book by the famous author Charles Dickens. I found it fascinating. I thought it was remarkable how it covered almost the entire life of one person. I also appreciated that there were so many twists and turns. I honestly did not expect what happened at the end. 

However, I would say that it is very difficult to read since it was written in a different time period where people wrote differently. Secondly, it is very complicated because there are so many characters and so many things happen to them at different times. I understood most of the book when I read it, but I missed some things because of the confusing language. I had to go back and reread and think things through a bit.

All in all I am glad to have read Great Expectations. It was my first Dickens book, and it is amazing to me that he wrote it and published it weekly first. It is such a big project! And there are so many things to keep track of because it is Pip’s entire life!

Marshmallow’s Rating: 95%.

Marshmallow rates Great Expectations by Charles Dickens 95%.
Marshmallow rates Great Expectations by Charles Dickens 95%.