Marshmallow reviews The English GI by Jonathan Sandler and Brian Bicknell

Marshmallow, just like Caramel, enjoys and appreciates graphic novels of various types. As such she has reviewed several of these books for the book bunnies blog. Today she reviews another recent graphic novel, The English GI: World War II Graphic Memoir of A Yorkshire Schoolboy’s Adventures in the United States and Europe, written by Jonathan Sandler and illustrated by Brian Bicknell. Sprinkles was curious about the book too, and so she is taking notes while asking questions.

The book bunnies received this book as a review copy.

Marshmallow reviews The English GI: World War II Graphic Memoir of A Yorkshire Schoolboy's Adventures in the United States and Europe, written by Jonathan Sandler and illustrated by Brian Bicknell.
Marshmallow reviews The English GI: World War II Graphic Memoir of A Yorkshire Schoolboy’s Adventures in the United States and Europe, written by Jonathan Sandler and illustrated by Brian Bicknell.

Sprinkles: So Marshmallow, let us start with a quick summary. What is this book about?

Marshmallow: This book is about Bernard Sandler, a seventeen-year-old boy from Yorkshire, England, who goes on a school trip to the US. Then the second world war starts and he cannot go back home. He has to find his own way through life in a new country. And he eventually joins the US army and fights in the war too.

S: That sounds like a really rough path for a young person.

M: I think so too. But he does survive and he lives a good life. And the author is his grandson who wanted to tell his story.

S: That is so neat! A lot of families have stories to tell, but not everyone ends up writing them up for others to learn about. So the book is not fiction, then?

M: No. In fact there is a long epilogue at the end of the book, which takes almost a fourth of it actually, and it gives a lot of details about Bernard’s life and his family.

S: I did see that. It looked really well documented. And in some ways it reminded me of two books you reviewed before.

M: Which ones?

S: Nothing But The Truth by Avi and They Called Us Enemy by George Takei.

M: I see how the second one is similar. That too was about real life, written by George Takei, whose childhood was during the second world war, and he went through a lot of difficult times. How do you connect this book to Avi’s?

S: That book also had a lot of documentation, no? Though of course that was fiction, and this is a real story.

M: Hmm, I see. Yes, you are right. This is not quite a typical graphic novel; first off it is true, and then it has a lot of historical documentation that connects it to history.

Marshmallow is reading The English GI: World War II Graphic Memoir of A Yorkshire Schoolboy's Adventures in the United States and Europe, written by Jonathan Sandler and illustrated by Brian Bicknell.
Marshmallow is reading The English GI: World War II Graphic Memoir of A Yorkshire Schoolboy’s Adventures in the United States and Europe, written by Jonathan Sandler and illustrated by Brian Bicknell.

S: So what else would you like to tell us about the book?

M: I really liked the illustrations.

S: They are black and white, no?

M: Well, they are more or less grayscale, but you can see a lot of details, and they are almost like photos, and since it is a history being told, I think it fits really well.

S: That totally makes sense.

M: Also I’d like to say that this would be appropriate for readers of all ages.

S: Especially if someone is a history buff, no? I think a lot of people like to read and learn about the second world war. This could be really perfect for such a reader.

M: Yes, but even if you are not particularly interested in that war, this is a good book. It has a really interesting story. And there is not much that would be difficult for young bunnies, except of course it is about war, which is a terrible thing, and Bernard has to separate from his original family and his original country, so those could be too sad for really young bunnies.

S: I agree with you Marshmallow. Some young bunnies might be really sad, so for them, this might not be a good choice. But if a bunny is willing to read a book about the war, and if they are keen on graphic novels, this would be a neat book for them.

M: Yes.

S: So did you learn some things from this book?

M: Yes. It was like looking through a window to see what life was like for a young person during the war. So I found it very interesting that way.

S: Did you know what a G.I. is?

M: I knew of the G.I. Joe action figures, but I did not know exactly what the initials meant, so I had to look it up! Wikipedia says: “G.I. are initials used to describe the soldiers of the United States Army and airmen of the United States Air Force and general items of their equipment. The term G.I. has been used as an initialism of “Government Issue”, “General Issue”, or “Ground Infantry”, but it originally referred to “galvanized iron”, as used by the logistics services of the United States Armed Forces.”

S: The evolution is interesting, isn’t it?

M: Yes.

S: So maybe it is about time to wrap up this review. How would you rate the book overall Marshmallow?

M: I’d rate it 97%. I like how it is a real story and I like the illustrations.

S: That’s great Marshmallow. So what do you want to tell our readers then?

M: Stay tuned for more amazing book reviews from the book bunnies!

Marshmallow rates The English GI: World War II Graphic Memoir of A Yorkshire Schoolboy's Adventures in the United States and Europe, written by Jonathan Sandler and illustrated by Brian Bicknell 97%.
Marshmallow rates The English GI: World War II Graphic Memoir of A Yorkshire Schoolboy’s Adventures in the United States and Europe, written by Jonathan Sandler and illustrated by Brian Bicknell 97%.

Marshmallow reviews You Know, Sex by Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smyth

Marshmallow is reading about growing up and this week she wanted to talk about a recent book she read about puberty, growing up, and sex written for young people who are around her age: You Know, Sex: Bodies, Gender, Puberty, and Other Things by Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smyth. Sprinkles is taking notes and asking questions.

Marshmallow reviews You Know, Sex: Bodies, Gender, Puberty, and Other Things by Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smyth.
Marshmallow reviews You Know, Sex: Bodies, Gender, Puberty, and Other Things by Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smyth.

Sprinkles: First of all, as we begin this review, I want to thank you for reading this book, Marshmallow. After reviewing a collection of books about where babies come from, I had intended to write a post about a handful of books about puberty next. And one of the books I chose was this one, a huge, 432-page tome written in graphic novel form. But when I began to read it, I realized that my personal discomfort with the form (due to my poor eyesight) would mean I would probably not be able to give it its full due. So thank you for helping me out and checking the book out on your own.

Marshmallow: Well, that’s alright, Sprinkles. It was an interesting read.

S: That’s good to know. Can you tell us a bit about the specifics of the book?

M: Sure. You already said it is big, and has 432 pages. And you said it is written as a graphic novel.

S: The two who wrote this book also were the writer and the illustrator of What Makes A Baby?, one of the books I read for that review of books about where babies come from. And the pictures have the exact same style.

M: Yes, there are people with many different skin colors, like orange and purple and green and blue, and many different shapes and sizes.

S: Does that work well?

M: Yes, it is interesting. I think the people all look quite unique.

S: Well, I guess that makes the book more realistic, right? We are all quite different from one another.

M: Yes.

S: So tell us more about the book.

M: There are eleven chapters. They are titled: What is Sex? Bodies, Gender, Puberty, Feelings, Consent, Talking, Relationships, Reproduction, Touching, and Safety.

S: So the book covers a lot of ground.

M: Yup. It is also very contemporary.

S: What do you mean by that?

M: It has some ideas which I think are contemporary. They talk about gender identity and sexual orientation, transgender and non-binary people, and people having relationships with multiple partners.

S: The last one does not sound too contemporary to me. Polygamy and polyamory have been around for a long time. They have not always been accepted or legal though. I guess the authors are trying to teach the reader to be open minded about different arrangements.

M: I am not sure all readers would be too open to all of these ideas at this point.

S: I agree with that. Actually I too find some of these ideas challenging, especially polygamy. Though rabbits are typically not monogamous, according to Wikipedia, “scientific studies classify the human mating system as primarily monogamous, with the cultural practice of polygamy in the minority”. In any case, it is good to learn about how different people can relate with others.

M: Well, the book does not talk so much about polygamy as polyamory. But yes, it is good to learn about these different things.

Marshmallow is reading You Know, Sex: Bodies, Gender, Puberty, and Other Things by Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smyth.
Marshmallow is reading You Know, Sex: Bodies, Gender, Puberty, and Other Things by Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smyth.

S: They also talk about the changes a young bunny goes through in puberty, and more generally about biology and mechanics of sexual reproduction, right?

M: Well, yes. There are also very vivid depictions of things. They make an effort to show all kinds of things, so that the reader does not end up assuming that a body part has to look in one specific way. And they show people doing all kinds of different things together or alone.

S: I did look through the pages a lot, too, and I’d say there really are a lot of illustrations that some parents may not be comfortable with.

M: The self-discovery and self-exploration parts might also be kind of touchy topics for some folks, I’d imagine.

S: I did see a section on pornography, and that too is a very challenging topic. Perhaps grownup bunnies should read this book together with their young ones when they feel like the conversations about the various themes and issues that come up will be constructive.

M: I’d agree with that.

S: What were some of the other topics in the book? What topics did you find were most important?

M: They talk a lot about relationships, and I thought it was useful to learn about that. They talk about consent and power in relationships, and sometimes how people talk about being with people as a competition.

S: Yes, I did see that page about how sometimes people talk about “scoring” and the book instead encourages young people to think about “trust, respect, justice, joy, and choice”.

M: Yes, I did find those parts useful. All in all, it is an interesting and useful book, but I think grownups should probably check it out before sharing with their little ones.

S: Agreed. So what would you tell our readers as we wrap up this review?

M: Stay tuned for more amazing book bunny reviews!

Marshmallow appreciated reading You Know, Sex: Bodies, Gender, Puberty, and Other Things by Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smyth, and she thinks all growing bunnies should read a book along these lines; she also suggests grownups check it out before sharing with their little ones.
Marshmallow appreciated reading You Know, Sex: Bodies, Gender, Puberty, and Other Things by Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smyth, and she thinks all growing bunnies should read a book along these lines; she also suggests grownups check it out before sharing with their little ones.

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%.

Marshmallow reviews Sisters by Raina Telgemeier

Last week Marshmallow reviewed Smile by Raina Telgemeier. This week she continues her Telgemeier streak with the next graphic novel by this prolific author: Sisters (2014). Sprinkles is taking notes and asking questions.

Marshmallow reviews Sisters by Raina Telgemeier.
Marshmallow reviews Sisters by Raina Telgemeier.

Sprinkles: So Marshmallow you have been reading graphic novels by Raina Telgemeier for a while now. And finally you got to Sisters.

Marshmallow: Yes.

S: The cover says this book accompanies Smile. I seem to remember that you wrote that that book was quite self-contained. How is this related to it?

M: They are related by the fact that both are about the same characters. The main character is the author herself, once again. But the main story line of this book is different. And it is a different time in her life. Instead of the school year, this is about summer time, about a summer when the author and her family took a road trip from California to Colorado to visit relatives.

S: I see. What is the main challenge this time?

M: The author and her sister are arguing too much. They are not in good terms. And there is a snake in their truck. And there are some problems between their parents.

S: I see. Seeing how the title mentions the sisters, I am assuming the book is mainly focusing on them getting their relationship in order?

M: Yes mostly.

S: So did you enjoy reading this book?

M: Yes. I always like Telgemeier’s drawings. She has a unique style. The faces of the characters are always very expressive. I like the color palate too. There is someone else who adds the coloring I think, Braden Lamb. I think the color choices add to the specific moods in each panel.

Marshmallow is reading Sisters by Raina Telgemeier.
Marshmallow is reading Sisters by Raina Telgemeier.

S: Did you find this book helped you think about your relationship with Caramel a bit?

M: No, not really. Caramel is my brother, and we don’t fight that much.

S: Really? So these two sisters fight more than you two? Hmm, that is some serious discord in the family then. Okay, so what else do you want to tell our readers about this book?

M: If you do have a sibling, this book might be helpful to you to think about your relationship with them, and see if you can be a better sibling yourself. So actually, maybe the book did make me think a bit about Caramel and me. I am thinking of how I can be a better big sister to him.

S: That is nice Marshmallow. I think you are a good big sister. And Caramel is a good little brother. So is the author the older sister or the younger?

M: She is the older one, like me.

S: I see.

M: But she is not totally like me. She is detached from her family at the beginning of the road trip. But through the book she starts feeling closer to them.

S: That is nice.

M: Yeah, I thought the book was pretty good. One thing I was not too keen on was that one of the story threads, the one about the parents and their problems, was not completely resolved. I wanted some more closure.

S: Well, you said this is a book about the author’s own life. Sometimes in real life, we don’t get closure, especially on big issues.

M: Yeah, I guess I wanted that part to be more like a book than real life.

S: I can see that. So the book was at times too much like real life! Anyways, it seems like this was all around a very good book. How would you rate it Marshmallow?

M: I’d rate it 95%.

S: Cool. And what do you want to tell our readers as we wrap up this review?

M: Stay tuned for more amazing book reviews from the book bunnies!

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