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 How to Find What You’re Not Looking For by Veera Hiranandani

Today Marshmallow reviews How to Find What You’re Not Looking For, a 2021 novel by Veera Hiranandani.

Marshmallow reviews How to Find What You're Not Looking For by Veera Hiranandani.
Marshmallow reviews How to Find What You’re Not Looking For by Veera Hiranandani.

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

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): Ariel Goldberg’s life is drastically changed forever when her older sister Leah elopes with a man from India.

The book starts in the summer of 1967. Interracial marriage is now legal, however, stigma and bias remain, even in Ariel’s parents. Leah tells Ariel about her relationship with Raj, an Indian college student, and says that they have plans for the future, which greatly worries Ariel. When the girls’ parents meet Raj, they don’t like him. This is mainly because Ariel’s family is Jewish, and Raj is not; they don’t want their daughter to marry a person who is not Jewish. Ariel likes Raj, but she definitely doesn’t want her sister to marry anyone yet. But then one day, Leah and Raj elope, and Ariel’s life is forever changed. 

Besides all that is going on in her home life, Ariel has been having problems at school. There seems to be a new rift between her and her best friend, Jane. Ariel is also bullied by a boy who hates Jewish people. On top of all this, Ariel also has trouble writing. Her new teacher, Miss Field, believes that she has dysgraphia. Miss Field brings a typewriter for her to use and asks Ariel to write short poems to practice writing. 

Ever since Leah left, Ariel’s life seems to be falling apart. Can Ariel put it back together?

Marshmallow is reading How to Find What You're Not Looking For by Veera Hiranandani.
Marshmallow is reading How to Find What You’re Not Looking For by Veera Hiranandani.

Marshmallow’s Review: How to Find What You’re Not Looking For raises many complex issues such as racial and religious bias in a way that teaches but also gives hope. It shows that bias is not just in other people but everywhere. It also shows that there might be reasons for behavior that looks excluding, such as people wanting to sustain their family culture and identity, but it does clearly show that stigma and bias are not okay. 

I found it interesting how the main character wrote poems to express what is happening in the book. I found it to be a good way for the author to tell the reader how the main character, Ariel, is feeling. The poems really add something to the book. 

The story is set in 1967; the author uses words like “groovy” to show how the narrator is living in the past. The narrator is also always using the second person “you” and everything is told in the present tense. This gives the story a more urgent tone somehow and like everything is happening all at once, as you read the book.

This book includes information about the Loving vs. Virginia case from 1967 and the ideas around interracial marriage play a significant role in its plot. Martin Luther Jr.’s murder from 1968 is also mentioned. In other words, How to Find What You’re Not Looking For talks about racial and religious injustice very openly. This makes me think that this book would be more appropriate for older bunnies, from 10 and up. There isn’t really any inappropriate content for younger bunnies, so younger readers could also enjoy it, but I think 10 and up would be able to understand the context better and so get the most out of this book. 

Marshmallow’s Rating: 95%.

Marshmallow rates How to Find What You're Not Looking For by Veera Hiranandani 95%.
Marshmallow rates How to Find What You’re Not Looking For by Veera Hiranandani 95%.

Marshmallow reviews Logicomix by Apostolos Doxiadis, Christos H. Papadimitriou, Alecos Papadatos, and Annie di Donna

Marshmallow recently got her paws on Logicomix, a graphic novel telling of the first two-thirds of philosopher-mathematician Bertrand Russell‘s life, as it is intertwined with the story of the stormy events related to the philosophical foundations of mathematics that occurred in the early twentieth century. The book is most likely not intended for young readers, but Marshmallow found it interesting and wanted to review it for the book bunnies blog. Below is her conversation with Sprinkles about this book, written by Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos H. Papadimitriou, and illustrated by Alecos Papadatos and Annie di Donna.

Marshmallow reviews Logicomix, written by Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos H. Papadimitriou, and illustrated by Alecos Papadatos and Annie di Donna.
Marshmallow reviews Logicomix, written by Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos H. Papadimitriou, and illustrated by Alecos Papadatos and Annie di Donna.

Sprinkles: So Marshmallow, tell us a little about this book.

Marshmallow: The first thing I want to say is that this is not a children’s book. It’s not necessarily inappropriate for children, but some concepts might be confusing for young bunnies.

S: Why did you read it?

M: It looked interesting. It is a graphic novel and I like those.

S: I see. So tell us what it is about.

M: It’s about Bertrand Russell. He is a philosopher. Basically it is about his life.

S: And the book has a really intriguing subtitle: “An Epic Search for Truth”. How is that related to Russell?

M: I think it’s because he spent a lot of time thinking about what truth means, the true meaning of “true”.

S: Yes, Russell is a foundational figure for modern mathematical logic today. I find his story fascinating and I really liked this book myself when I read it. So what else do you want to tell us?

M: There are parts of the book where the two authors, the illustrators, and a researcher who is helping them with the project are talking among themselves. And there are the other parts where we basically follow Bertrand Russell give a speech about his life and his work in logic. The speech is supposed to be about “the role of logic in human affairs” and apparently Russell did not give any such speech.

S: But it probably makes a good plot device to tell us about his life, I guess.

M: Yes, I think it works.

Marshmallow is reading Logicomix, written by Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos H. Papadimitriou, and illustrated by Alecos Papadatos and Annie di Donna.
Marshmallow is reading Logicomix, written by Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos H. Papadimitriou, and illustrated by Alecos Papadatos and Annie di Donna.

S: So did you know about Bertrand Russell before reading this book?

M: No.

S: What do you think about him now, after having read it?

M: I think he is an interesting person. But according to this book review you showed me, not everything in the book is accurate.

S: Yes, I think the authors themselves say they took some artistic license with some of the facts. And that book review is a careful scholarly overview of the book that readers who might be curious about the accuracy of the text might check out. But let us get back to your reading of the book. What appealed to you most about this book?

M: Well, I liked the switch between the creators of the book and the subject of the book. It made things interesting. I also did not know about Russell and Wittgenstein and Gödel, and any of those philosophers, so I learned a lot.

S: And the book does cover a lot of ground in terms of the foundational debates of the early twentieth century. How did all that work out for you?

M: What do you mean by foundational debates?

S: I mean, the questions about the foundations of mathematics, of logic, of truth. How these folks were trying to understand why mathematics was true, how it worked, and so on.

M: I think some of that went over my head. But I did find it cool that people were thinking so hard about why math is true.

S: I know you find philosophical questions intriguing. The ones in this book are quite specific to math, it seems at first, but then if you think about it, we all want to know what is true, what makes something true, as opposed to false, fake news, or disinformation, or misinformation.

M: Yes. I did a project on all those this year. I used this website which talks about all the dangers of dihydrogen monoxide, and how it is everywhere, and how you should be very very afraid. But of course dihydrogen monoxide is just H2O, which is water!

S: Yes, I really liked your project! So we know it is sometimes hard to know what is true and what is not. And this book is about some philosophers who are trying to think about these questions very carefully and trying to see how to connect them to math.

M: Yes, I think that makes sense.

S: So I know you were not looking for philosophy or math when you started. Did all that overwhelm you when you were reading it?

M: No. I think they explained things in ways people could understand. I guess some things are a bit confusing, and I probably did miss some things, and maybe younger bunnies might not get any of the philosophical stuff, but it was interesting for me.

S: That’s great Marshmallow! And maybe you will come back to this book in a few years’ time if you are curious to dig deeper into the philosophical questions in it. I’m glad you read it!

M: Me too.

S: So as we wrap up this review, I’ll ask how you rate the book…

M: I rate this book 95%.

S: Sounds good! I know you always like to end our chats the way Caramel ends his reviews. So go ahead!

M: Stay tuned for more book bunny reviews!

Marshmallow has enjoyed reading Logicomix, written by Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos H. Papadimitriou, and illustrated by Alecos Papadatos and Annie di Donna and rates it 95%.
Marshmallow has enjoyed reading Logicomix, written by Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos H. Papadimitriou, and illustrated by Alecos Papadatos and Annie di Donna and rates it 95%.

Marshmallow reviews Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park

Today Marshmallow reviews Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park. Sprinkles is asking questions and taking notes.

Marshmallow reviews Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park.
Marshmallow reviews Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park.

Sprinkles: So Marshmallow, tell us about this book. What is it about?

Marshmallow: Well, this book is about a girl named Hanna who dreams of becoming a dressmaker. But the thing is that she is part Chinese: her father is white and her mother was Chinese-Korean, and she is living in a very white place in the Dakota territory.

S: It sounds like something happened to her mother.

M: Yes, sadly Hanna’s mother died when she was a little younger.

S: That is very sad.

M: But before that happened, she taught Hanna a lot about sewing and stuff. So now Hanna is really good at making clothes. But this book is placed in, I think, 1880. She can sense that the people at the town she just moved into wouldn’t treat her well if they knew she was part Chinese, so she hides her face. But once they discover her heritage, they start being mean to her.

S: Today too, we see anti-Asian hate, and in fact we have been seeing it get stronger this last year. But the book is about a time that is quite a few years earlier, you mentioned the Dakota Territory, in 1880. Racism and this kind of bigotry might have been even more common.

M: Yes. Hanna’s father came to open a store in the town, and she is worried people might not want to go to their store. And people call her mean names sometimes, and even the kids at her new school are cruel to her.

S: This sounds like a pretty bleak story. Do good things happen to Hanna ever?

M: Well, she does have some friends and some people treat her well. So it is not always that sad. But I do think this might be a book appropriate for older bunnies. Younger ones might find it too sad or scary.

S: Scary? Why do you say that?

M: At some point people try to hurt Hanna physically because she is Asian. It can be scary, especially for little bunnies.

S: I see.

Marshmallow is reading Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park.
Marshmallow is reading Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park.

M: But don’t worry. It is not a completely depressing book.

S: Oh?

M: You can read about how Hanna enjoys dressmaking and the ending is happy.

S: Well, so one has to wait till the end to get a sweet flavor?

M: No no no. It is a good story and you learn about that time in American history a bit, through the eyes of a young person who does not quite “fit in”.

S: As you are telling me the plot, I am realizing I do not know too much about that part of the history of the United States. Maybe we should read up on it together?

M: Yes, maybe. I am also reading other books in school that are about people living during that period of early American history. Maybe I can review some of them for the blog some time?

S: That would be awesome Marshmallow! So let us wrap this up then. Would you recommend this book to other bunnies?

M: Yes! But as I said, not the really young bunnies, but those who are a little older. And a parent bunny might want to read it too before to see if they think their little ones might appreciate the book.

S: That sounds good to me. So how do you rate this book?

M: I rate it 95%. You really get to feel for Hanna and have a good sense of life back then for people of different backgrounds.

Marshmallow enjoyed reading Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park and rates it 95%.
Marshmallow enjoyed reading Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park and rates it 95%.