Marshmallow reviews Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

Marshmallow has been reviewing the illustrated editions of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series for the book bunnies blog. In the past few years she has read and reviewed the first four books, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s StoneHarry Potter and the Chamber of SecretsHarry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, all written by J.K. Rowling and illustrated by Jim Kay. This week, when the fifth book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, finally appeared in the illustrated version, Marshmallow was able to get her paws on a copy and reread it once more. Below is her review of this book.

Marshmallow reviews Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, written by J.K. Rowling and illustrated by Jim Kay and Neil Packer.
Marshmallow reviews Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, written by J.K. Rowling and illustrated by Jim Kay and Neil Packer.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like books about magic and friendship, or if you have enjoyed the previous Harry Potter books, then this might be the book for you. (If you have not read any of the first four books yet, you might be better off starting from the beginning.)

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): Harry Potter is a teenage boy who discovered on his eleventh birthday that he was a wizard (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone). Since then his life has been transformed as he attends the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Not to mention that he is extremely famous as the boy who survived when Lord Voldemort, the Wizarding World’s most infamous villain, tried to kill him. When Voldemort failed to kill him, it was believed that the curse he released on Harry rebounded and killed Voldemort instead. However, in the four years Harry has attended Hogwarts, Voldemort has made several attempts to return. His first few attempts, chronicled in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, were eventually foiled, but unfortunately, last year, in the climax of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, he succeeded. So at the beginning of this book, Lord Voldemort is back.

The bad part, besides the whole “worst wizard in the world has returned” part, is that the Wizarding World refuses to believe Harry when he tries to convince them that Voldemort is back, since he was the only witness to Voldemort’s return who is not working for Voldemort, and as expected, none of the others are talking. The entire Wizarding World believes now that Harry is no longer the miraculous boy who lived, but instead he is a nutjob conspiracist. Dumbledore, Hogwart’s headmaster, supported Harry’s claim and is now being demoted, with people insisting that he must be going senile. 

Since Harry only attends Hogwarts during the school year, he must spend most of the summer at the house of his aunt Petunia and uncle Vernon (with his obnoxious, bullying cousin Dudley). Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon despise magic as they are Muggles, or un-magical people, like the rest of us. (Harry’s parents were both wizards, but they were killed the night that Harry survived Voldemort’s curse.) Whenever Harry stays at his aunt and uncle’s, he is cut off entirely from the world of magic. Generally, his best friends, Ron and Hermione, send letters, but this summer, Harry only receives cryptic messages from them, saying that they are not allowed to tell him too much about what they are doing. 

Harry is thus feeling rather lonely and unhappy, when his predicament is much worsened by a sudden dementor attack. Dementors are foul creatures that feed on the despair of humans and can suck souls. Harry must use a spell to stop them from doing just that to his cousin Dudley (despite the fact that he hates him). However, underage wizards (like Harry) are forbidden from using magic in front of Muggles. As a result, Harry receives messages that inform him that he is to be tried for his behavior. So far it seems that everything is against him, and it is about to get a whole lot worse. 

Marshmallow’s Review: I have loved all of the Harry Potter books I have read (as well as pretty much every book written about this Wizarding World). The author has created a magical but realistic world with unique characters and undetectable plots. This fifth book is no exception.

As Harry is getting older, his world is becoming more and more dangerous, and the story is getting a lot scarier. Though I enjoyed this book immensely, and I watched the movie version with much excitement, I’d definitely urge caution for younger bunnies who might not yet be ready for this much tension.

The original version of the book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, was already amazing, but this illustrated version is even more special. It is beautifully drawn by Jim Kay together with Neil Packer, filled with images and drawings relating to the story. The characters and events are portrayed in large, detailed drawings, each page is different, and I enjoyed diving into the images when I took my eyes away from the words. 

The Order of the Phoenix is the longest of the seven Harry Potter books, so this illustrated version is a really big book, almost like an encyclopedia volume. But it is beautiful to behold. I very much enjoyed returning once more to Harry’s world in this illustrated edition.

Marshmallow’s Rating: 100%.

Marshmallow rates Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, written by J.K. Rowling and illustrated by Jim Kay and Neil Packer, 100%.
Marshmallow rates Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, written by J.K. Rowling and illustrated by Jim Kay and Neil Packer, 100%.

Caramel reviews The Menagerie: Kraken and Lies by Tui Sutherland and Kari Sutherland

Caramel is a big fan of Tui Sutherland’s Wings of Fire series. After some cajoling, a couple weeks ago, he finally dove into Sutherland’s Menagerie series, cowritten with Kari Sutherland. And he has already read and reviewed the first book (The Menagerie) and the second book (Dragon on Trial). Today he wraps up the series with a review of the third book: Kraken and Lies. As usual, Sprinkles is taking notes and asking followup questions.

Caramel reviews The Menagerie: Kraken and Lies by Tui Sutherland and Kari Sutherland.
Caramel reviews The Menagerie: Kraken and Lies by Tui Sutherland and Kari Sutherland.

Sprinkles: So this was book three of the Menagerie series. What did you think?

Caramel: It’s a good book!

S: I thought so too. Actually I liked this third book the most.

C: I didn’t. I think they were all good.

S: Yes, I do, too, but I kind of liked this one most because I thought it was so rich, and the authors tied up all the loose ends really well.

C: I agree. They did tie up a lot of loose ends. We even learned how and why the dragon was framed in Dragon on Trial.

S: You are very close to giving away a little too much Caramel. But yes, the unresolved issues from the earlier books all got cleared away in this one. But it was not only about resolving old issues, was it?

C: No, you are right. There is of course a new problem, a big one. Zoe’s ex-best-friend Jasmine’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Sterling, apparently know about the Menagerie and are scheming some evil plot to expose and exploit it.

S: Yes, that is a big existential threat for the Menagerie, right? Nobody is supposed to know about it, and the Sterlings were supposed to have drunk kraken ink and forgotten all they had seen and learned about the Menagerie.

C: Well, Mr. and Mrs. Sterling were supposed to not know about the Menagerie. But apparently Jonathan, Jasmine’s brother, dated Zoe’s sister Ruby, and Ruby told him about it. And then Jonathan tried to steal a jackalope. And a jackalope is kind of like a jackrabbit, but it is not a regular one. Its body looks like a rabbit but it has antlers! But also they are magical creatures, and their milk can cure any illness. And they can imitate human voice and fool humans!

S: Yes, they are cool! But back to Jonathan and Ruby.

C: Oh yes. So they have to break up and Jonathan has to drink the kraken ink to forget everything about her and the Menagerie, but the family all has to drink the kraken ink so they can all forget about Ruby as well. So it is very strange that they now know about the Menagerie. And they are only interested in money so they will want to exploit it. And in the middle of all this, Logan’s mom is still missing and the Sterlings seem to have something to do with it…

Caramel is reading The Menagerie: Kraken and Lies by Tui Sutherland and Kari Sutherland.
Caramel is reading The Menagerie: Kraken and Lies by Tui Sutherland and Kari Sutherland.

S: Yes, that is correct. I think you described the central conflicts and plot problems of this book well, Caramel. So tell me, were there any new mythical creatures other than the jackalope that showed up?

C: There is Sapphire, a relative of Blue. She is a merperson.

S: Yes we saw merpeople before, though, no?

C: Well, here we see them a lot better because they go on a strike.

S: That is true; that part was very interesting.

C: And then we get to see the kraken a lot more up close.

S: That is true too.

C: And there is a Chinese dragon!

S: Yes! And the Chinese dragon has a pearl, a special pearl that holds its magic powers.

C: Yeah, that is true.

S: Did you know that Marshmallow has read and reviewed a book titled Dragon Pearl? You might actually like the book. It has all kinds of things you like: mythology, dragons, space ships!

C: Yes, that book sounds like just the kind of thing I would like to read. Maybe I will ask her to lend it to me.

S: I think she would be happy to share. But there were other magical mythical creatures in this book, no?

C: Yes, there was a selkie! A seal person!

S: Yes, that was a nice surprise, wasn’t it?

C: Yes, but now you are the one doing all the spoiling, Sprinkles!

S: Okay, okay, I’ll stop. So let us wrap things up then. Overall, did you like the Menagerie books?

C: Yes I liked them a lot. They are very different from the Wings of Fire books, but they are just as funny! And they are really cool, and I still think Squorp, the griffin cub, is the best ever!

S: Yes, I know. Okay, give me three words to describe the books and we are done.

C: Funny. And breath-taking, because I had to hold my breath a lot of the time, trying to see what would happen next.

S: And your third word?

C: Well-written. I thought the story flowed really well and always kept me on my toes.

S: True. I agree with that. So I think it is time to close this chapter of our lives and say good bye to the Menagerie and our friends Logan, Zoe, and Blue. How do you want to end this review Caramel!

C: By saying my usual words: Stay tuned for more book bunny reviews!

Caramel enjoyed reading The Menagerie: Kraken and Lies by Tui Sutherland and Kari Sutherland and recommends the whole series to all the little bunnies who like magical and mythical creatures.
Caramel enjoyed reading The Menagerie: Kraken and Lies by Tui Sutherland and Kari Sutherland and recommends the whole series to all the little bunnies who like magical and mythical creatures.

Caramel reviews The Menagerie: Dragon on Trial by Tui Sutherland and Kari Sutherland

Today Caramel reviews Dragon on Trial, the second book of The Menagerie series written by Tui Sutherland, the author of Caramel’s beloved Wings of Fire series, and her sister Kari Sutherland. As usual, Sprinkles is taking notes and asking followup questions.

Caramel reviews The Menagerie: Dragon on Trial by Tui Sutherland and Kari Sutherland.
Caramel reviews The Menagerie: Dragon on Trial by Tui Sutherland and Kari Sutherland.

Sprinkles: So Caramel, you read this book really fast!

Caramel: Yes, I did.

S: Was it exciting?

C: Yes.

S: So will you tell us about it?

C: Yes, of course!

S: Do tell!

C: This book starts exactly where the last book, The Menagerie, ended. That book ended with the disappearance of Pelly, the golden egg laying goose. And in this book, the heroes, Logan, Zoe, and Blue, try to find out who killed Pelly.

S: Wait, is Pelly dead?

C: Well, it looks like that, at least in the beginning. But —

S: Wait, don’t tell. I still have not read this one, and I really want to.

C: Yes, you should read it. It is just as exciting as the first book.

S: I found the first book really fun and full of curious things. And a lot of mysteries. Is this one as good as that book?

C: Yes. And there are new magical mythical creatures that we meet, and they are awesome!

S: Can you name one?

C: We finally see and meet the dragons!

S: That’s cool. I know you like dragons a lot. Are the dragons of this book similar to any other dragons we met in any other book?

C: Not really. Scratch is a Western dragon and he can fly and he is big and long, and breathes fire. And all clues point to him being guilty of the death of the goose.

S: I see. So he is the “dragon on trial” that is mentioned in the title of the book. And as usual, things are not what they seem, right?

C: Exactly!

Caramel is reading The Menagerie: Dragon on Trial by Tui Sutherland and Kari Sutherland.
Caramel is reading The Menagerie: Dragon on Trial by Tui Sutherland and Kari Sutherland.

S: So let us move a bit away from the plot so you don’t give away too much by mistake.

C: Okay.

S: Instead maybe we can talk about the characters. Other than the three friends Logan, Zoe, and Blue, do we meet some new important characters?

C: Well, not really. We do get to see the SNAPA agents a few more times. SNAPA stands for SuperNatural Animals Protection Agency.

S: Cool, kind of like a mixture of EPA and the CIA. Right?

C: Yeah, I guess. They are a government agency, trying to protect the mythical animals and they are pretty secretive.

S: Who was your favorite person in this book?

C: My favorite is still Squarp; that is the baby griffin cub that Logan found in his room in the first book.

S: Why is that?

C: Because he is a cute little baby animal!

S: And you are a cute little baby animal, too, so it makes total sense you would like him. He is also very playful and funny; I liked him too, in the first book.

C: You will like him in the second book too!

S: Okay, I think I am quite ready to begin reading the book. How about you? Are you itching to read the third book?

C: Yes!

S: Does this second book also end with a cliffhanger?

C: Kind of. The book ends with them finding out something very serious, a big danger for the menagerie.

S: I can’t wait to find out more! So let us wrap this up so we can both get reading. What do you want to tell our readers?

C: Stay tuned for more book bunny reviews!

Caramel loved reading The Menagerie: Dragon on Trial by Tui Sutherland and Kari Sutherland, and he cannot wait to get started on the third and last book of the series. Stay tuned!
Caramel loved reading The Menagerie: Dragon on Trial by Tui Sutherland and Kari Sutherland, and he cannot wait to get started on the third and last book of the series. Stay tuned!

Marshmallow reviews Guts by Raina Telgemeier

Marshmallow has already reviewed several graphic novels by Raina Telgemeier for the book bunnies blog. (You can read her reviews of Ghost (2006), the graphic novel version of Ann N. Martin’s Kristy’s Great Idea (The Baby-Sitters Club Graphic Novels #1) (2006), Drama (2012), Smile (2010), and Sisters (2014) if you’d like.) Today she reviews Guts (2019).

Marshmallow reviews Guts by Raina Telgemeier.
Marshmallow reviews Guts by Raina Telgemeier.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like books about family, fears, and personal development, or if you have enjoyed graphic novels by Raina Telgemeier before, then this might be the book for you. 

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): Raina  Telgemeier wakes up one night with a terrible stomachache and vomits. At first it seems like she has a stomach bug that was recently going around, as her mother is also throwing up. The two of them spend the rest of the night throwing up. Unfortunately for Raina, her fourth grade is a constant gross-out competition. Everyone seems fascinated by gross things. There is especially one girl named Michelle who is always mean to Raina. (But whenever Raina responds in kind, her teacher tells her to be nicer to Michelle and says that Raina doesn’t know everything about Michelle) The problem with all this grossness is that Raina seems more worried than everyone else. Eventually Raina becomes so concerned that she starts to monitor what she eats to make sure that she doesn’t become sick. Raina sometimes feels really sick, but there seems to be nothing really wrong; she seems perfectly healthy, at least physically. To get over her illness, Raina will have to face her fears with help from her family, her friends, and her therapist. 

Marshmallow is reading Guts by Raina Telgemeier.
Marshmallow is reading Guts by Raina Telgemeier.

Marshmallow’s Review: Guts, if you didn’t know, is based off the life of the author, specifically her fourth and fifth grade experience. The best way to describe this book is authentic because it is not at all artificial. The characters are all funny and relatable. The people in this book might also remind you of your friends, family, or other relations.

I did not think anything discussed or depicted in the book was disgusting, but it was probably the first fiction book I read that dealt with human bodily functions like vomiting and bowel movements. (A while ago, Caramel did review The Science of Poop and Farts: The Smelly Truth About Digestion by Alex Woolf for our blog, but that was a science facts book; these types of things do not typically show up in most fiction books.)

This video of Raina Telgemeier talking about Guts summarizes and contextualizes the book really well:

“Raina Telgemeier: Guts — let’s just talk about it” – YouTube video.

I think that Guts is a good addition to Smile and Sisters. As far as I know, this is the last book Raina Telgemeier has written about her childhood, even though time-wise, it comes before the other two. I found it interesting to read about what had occurred before the first two books, and some characters in the first book who were mentioned were also in Guts, which definitely added to how real the books felt. I especially like how the author, Raina Telgemeier, doesn’t leave anything out and how original the books are.

Marshmallow’s Rating: 95%.

Marshmallow rates Guts by Raina Telgemeier 95%.
Marshmallow rates Guts by Raina Telgemeier 95%.