Caramel reviews Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

Caramel’s class has been reading E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web. Quite reasonably, they have been pacing their way through the book, but Caramel just could not wait and is already done with the reading. Today he shares his thoughts on this 1952 classic. As usual, Sprinkles is taking notes and asking questions.

Caramel reviews Charlotte's Web, a classic from 1952, written by E.B. White and illustrated by Garth Williams.
Caramel reviews Charlotte’s Web, a classic from 1952, written by E.B. White and illustrated by Garth Williams.

Sprinkles: So Caramel, tell me about this book.

Caramel: This book is about animals living in a farm. The main character is Wilbur, he is a pig. In the first chapter he is just born, and the farmer is getting ready to kill Wilbur because he is the smallest one in the litter. That’s called a runt. That’s very mean, right?

S: Why do you say that?

C: The pig is born and they should not kill him.

S: I see. I agree. But I am guessing the farmer is thinking more like how things are in nature, where the weakest and the smallest in a litter will not usually survive.

C: Yes, but later in the book Wilbur does grow and get much bigger.

S: So the farmer decides not to kill him after all?

C: Yes, the farmer’s daughter Fern stops him.

S: So tell me more. The book title involves someone named Charlotte. Who is that?

C: She is a spider.

S: Is she Wilbur’s friend?

C: Yes, she becomes Wilbur’s friend when he moves into the Zuckerman barn. Zuckerman is Fern’s uncle but he is not very nice. Zucker means sugar in German, you told me, but this Zuckerman is not very sweet.

S: I see. Maybe that is why the author chose that name. But why is the book titled Charlotte’s Web if the main character is the pig?

C: Charlotte does save Wilbur’s life multiple times, and she is very important to him. They are best friends and Wilbur learns a lot from her.

Caramel is pointing to the page where Wilbur the pig meets Charlotte the spider in Charlotte's Web, written by E.B. White and illustrated by Garth Williams.
Caramel is pointing to the page where Wilbur the pig meets Charlotte the spider in Charlotte’s Web, written by E.B. White and illustrated by Garth Williams.

S: As you know, I did not grow up in this country, and so this book was not on my reading list at school. When I learned about it, I was already an adult. But I also learned that the book was rather sad, so I never read it.

C: That’s an understatement. It is really really sad.

S: Okay, I won’t ask you why it is sad because I think I actually know. But I also know that you don’t usually like sad books. Did you like Charlotte’s Web?

C: Yes! It might be the only sad book I actually liked.

S: Oh? Why did you like it?

C: The story is really interesting, and I liked Wilbur. He is funny and very likeable. And I also liked Charlotte. She is wise and also very nice.

S: I know you like fiction involving animal characters. You already reviewed a whole lot of them, like Poppy about a mouse and her adventures, The Mouse and the Motorcycle about another mouse and his adventures, and Verdi about a snake. Do Wilbur and Charlotte have some interesting adventures too?

C: Oh yes! They go to the fair, and Charlotte makes an egg sack at the fair. She puts a lot of eggs in it. Let me check. 514 spider eggs.

S: That is a lot of eggs! So the book is fun and joyful to read except the sad parts?

C: Yes.

S: So which three words would you use to describe the book?

C: Sweet, happy and sad. Because it is really sweet and happy until it is sad. But then it is happy again, sort of.

S: Hmm, maybe I should read it after all. Would you recommend it?

C: Yep. But you will have to wait for Marshmallow to finish it first.

S: Hmm, I see I have competition. Okay, I guess I will wait. But at least now, after all these years, I know I should read Charlotte’s Web. In the meantime, let us wrap up our review. What do you want to tell our readers?

C: Stay tuned for more book bunny reviews!

Caramel has enjoyed reading Charlotte's Web, written by E.B. White and illustrated by Garth Williams, and recommends it strongly. He already convinced both Marshmallow and Sprinkles to read the book.
Caramel has enjoyed reading Charlotte’s Web, written by E.B. White and illustrated by Garth Williams, and recommends it strongly. He already convinced both Marshmallow and Sprinkles to read the book.

Marshmallow reviews Of A Feather by Dayna Lorentz

Today Marshmallow is reviewing Of A Feather, a 2021 novel by Dayna Lorentz.

Marshmallow reviews Of A Feather by Dayna Lorentz.
Marshmallow reviews Of A Feather by Dayna Lorentz.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like books about birds or family, then this might be the book for you. 

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): Reenie has been sent to live with her great-aunt, Beatrice, because her mother is unable to take care of her. Reenie can always pretend to smile, but right now she doesn’t have much to be smiling about. A social worker, named Randi, with an “i”, as Reenie describes them, is driving Reenie to this “alleged aunt”. A little after arriving, Reenie learns that her aunt is a falconer, that is, she is skilled in falconry.

Meanwhile, in the nearby forest, a young great horned owl is attempting to fly. His older sister, First, can fly and First rubs it in his face every chance she gets. Our owl, called Second, is struggling. Second can’t hunt well, either. He feels like a disappointment, and when a car hits his mother, things get even worse.

Reenie is now going to school in this new area. She wants to avoid making friends at her new school. She believes that friends are dangerous. Also, Reenie wants to believe that she will not stay with Beatrice permanently. However, she does want Beatrice to teach her how to become a falconer. So Beatrice agrees to help her. They decide to catch a “passage” bird. Instead, they catch Second. Reenie names him Rufus. But Rufus is a great horned owl, and the law in that state doesn’t allow you to train an owl. Since Rufus is injured however, they are allowed to keep him until he gets better. But they do start training him. Will they get caught?

Marshmallow is reading Of A Feather by Dayna Lorentz.
Marshmallow is reading Of A Feather by Dayna Lorentz.

Marshmallow’s Review: I really enjoyed reading this book even though it is often about birds catching small animals, like rabbits. Caramel is also wary of owls because of the bad owl Mr. Ocax in Poppy (though he did not mention him in his review). But here we see from the owl’s perspective and this owl is a quite likable character.

I think that the author did a great job of creating realistic characters, like Reenie. I like making friends at school but could totally get why she did not want to make friends at her new school; I could sense her loneliness and fear. All characters in Of A Feather are unique but really realistic. I think my favorite character is Rufus, because in his chapters (the book switches from Reenie’s perspective to Rufus’s and then back), he always refers to Reenie as “Brown Frizz” because he finds it strange that she only has hair on one side of her head.

I liked that the author wrote the book, partly, from the perspective of an owl. It was interesting to see what the other side of the story was like, not that the stories disagreed with each other.

All in all, I really enjoyed reading Of A Feather

Marshmallow’s Rating: 95%.

Marshmallow rates Of A Feather by Dayna Lorentz 95%.
Marshmallow rates Of A Feather by Dayna Lorentz 95%.

Marshmallow reviews The Secret Sheriff of Sixth Grade by Jordan Sonnenblick

Marshmallow and Caramel have reviewed several books about school life for this blog before. Today Marshmallow wanted to talk about another book about school life: The Secret Sheriff of Sixth Grade by Jordan Sonnenblick. Sprinkles is taking notes and asking questions.

Marshmallow reviews The Secret Sheriff of Sixth Grade by Jordan Sonnenblick.
Marshmallow reviews The Secret Sheriff of Sixth Grade by Jordan Sonnenblick.

Sprinkles: So Marshmallow let us start with a quick summary. Can you tell us what this book is about?

Marshmallow: This book is about a kid named Maverick. He is short and people mistreat him at school. He also has some family problems. But when he starts sixth grade, he decides to try and change things. He decides to protect others who are mistreated.

S: That sounds really nice. He is not being treated well himself so he knows it feels terrible. So he decides to stand up for others so they won’t feel so lonely.

M: Yes.

S: So how does it go for him? Can he actually help other people?

M: He ends up being able to help, but at the start, he is always getting in trouble. He tries to stand up for others, but usually those people are not very appreciative or grateful. And there is really a lot going on at home. His mom is single and keeps making poor choices for boyfriends. They hit her and she is not always able to stand up to them and Maverick sees this and feels terrible that he is unable to protect his mom.

S: Yes, Maverick’s life is really hard, right? His mom is also always either working very hard at an unstable job or is out of work. Mom and son love each other and are usually kind to one another, but the home is not safe or comfortable.

M: Maverick does not have too many adults to trust, but he does have his aunt, and then eventually he finds another trusted grownup at school. I’m not telling who because I don’t want to give away all the details.

S: I agree. I think this gives people a good sense of the type of book this is.

M: Yes. Except that the book is also really really funny.

S: Yes, I will agree with that too. I was really really sad at some point while reading and then the next sentence made me laugh out loud. Maverick is a sincere, modest, and hilarious narrator.

M: That is true. His voice reminds me a bit of Percy Jackson.

S: How so?

M: They have the same sense of humor I think.

S: I guess so. I think they both are good at self-deprecating humor. And Percy has a lot of difficulties to fit in at school before he figures out he is a demigod. So maybe there is that too. Both Percy and Maverick are kids who did not start out life with things going easy for them.

M: Yes. I think so.

Marshmallow is reading The Secret Sheriff of Sixth Grade by Jordan Sonnenblick.
Marshmallow is reading The Secret Sheriff of Sixth Grade by Jordan Sonnenblick.

S: So what else would you like to say about this book? Did you enjoy reading it?

M: I enjoyed reading it, but I do think it is for older bunnies. Maverick’s life is very hard, and some kids might not be mature enough to read about domestic abuse and alcoholism and such.

S: Of course there are a lot of kids who have to live with these things, so for those kids, there is no way to avoid learning about them at any age.

M: That is true. I think maybe for those kids the book might also be good. There are good things that happen in the book too, and some of the difficulties are overcome.

S: So maybe for kids whose lives are difficult in these ways and in other ways, too, this might be a good book because it shows them that other people also suffer, and maybe kindness, Maverick’s way of trying to handle life, is still an option.

M: Yes.

S: The assistant principal at Maverick’s school has a little reminder in his office, a sentence on his wall:

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

page 67

I think it is a good summary of the main message of this book.

M: I think so too.

S: It seems that the author was inspired by a real person while writing this book. There are so many people who have really difficult lives, yet they never lose their kindness. It is hard but those people do it. This book is a good reminder.

M: Yes.

S: So let us wrap things up. How would you rate this book Marshmallow?

M: Hmm, let me see. It gets a bit hard to read sometimes, because it is so sad sometimes. But it is a good book overall. So I rate it 95%.

Marshmallow rates The Secret Sheriff of Sixth Grade by Jordan Sonnenblick 95%.
Marshmallow rates The Secret Sheriff of Sixth Grade by Jordan Sonnenblick 95%.

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%.