Marshmallow reviews They Called Us Enemy by George Takei

Marshmallow enjoys graphic novels just like many other bunnies, but she has been especially taken by a 2019 book, the memoir They Called Us Enemy, written by the Star Trek veteran George Takei together with Justin Eisinger and Steven Scott, and illustrated by Harmony Becker. Below she shares her thoughts on this striking book.

Marshmallow reviews They Called Us Enemy, written by the Star Trek veteran George Takei together with Justin Eisinger and Steven Scott, and illustrated by Harmony Becker.
Marshmallow reviews They Called Us Enemy, written by the Star Trek veteran George Takei together with Justin Eisinger and Steven Scott, and illustrated by Harmony Becker.

Marshmallow’s Overview: In the book They Called Us Enemy, George Takei writes about what it was like to live in a Japanese internment camp. The internment camps were places where the USA put Japanese Americans and people who had come from Japan to find better opportunities in the USA during the second world war.

This was a dark time in American history that is not always emphasized. According to Wikipedia:

In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed into law the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 which apologized for the internment on behalf of the U.S. government … The legislation admitted that government actions were based on “race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internment_of_Japanese_Americans

George Takei was put in an internment camp when he was a little boy. He stayed there for four years. The time that he spent in the camps was very important and affected his whole life. This book tells his story.

Marshmallow’s Summary: One day, George wakes up and he and his family are ordered to leave their home. As a reaction to the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the US government gathered most Japanese immigrants and Japanese Americans and put them in the camps because many Americans thought that they might betray the United States of America. George does not realize any of this because he is a little boy at the time that he is put in the camp.

George’s family has to board a train to get to the camp and they can only bring what they can carry and that is not much. To add on to that, the government makes them sell everything else that they own. 

When they get to the camp, they see that it is in the middle of nowhere and that they are surrounded by barbed wire and watch towers that have men with guns watching then. George and his family, which includes his brother, Henry, his sister, Nancy Reiko, his father, Takekuma Norman Takei, and his mother, Fumiko Emily Nakamura, have to sleep in a tiny house split by walls that are not sound-proof and their neighbors are able to hear everything that they say. So, in the end the parents decide that they will speak Japanese to each other when talking about private stuff.

They Called Us Enemy is a graphic novel with very realistic drawings. Marshmallow is pointing to the page where George’s parents are frustrated and outraged by the way they are treated.

When they come to the house it is very hot. The book compares it to a furnace. When they were in the camp, many people lose loved ones. For example, Mrs. Takahashi loses her husband because he is a Buddhist minister. She has four children. Those four children lose their father. Mr. Yasuda is taken by federal agents because he is teaching children how to speak Japanese.

“Their husbands’ only crimes were that they occupied highly visible positions…”

Not only are they being taken from their homes, but they are also losing family and friends.

Marshmallow’s Review: This was a very bad time for many people and this book shows how devastating it was. It is a very good book that captures the essence of how important this event is in American history. The internment of Japanese Americans was a big event especially for people who suffered though it and lost members of their family and friends. It is also important for us today. We need to know our past so we don’t make similar mistakes in the future.

Marshmallow’s Rating: 100%.

Marshmallow rates They Called Us Enemy, by George Takei, written together with Justin Eisinger and Steven Scott, and illustrated by Harmony Becker, 100%.
Marshmallow rates They Called Us Enemy, by George Takei, written together with Justin Eisinger and Steven Scott, and illustrated by Harmony Becker, 100%.

Marshmallow reviews Lucy and Andy Neanderthal by Jeffrey Brown

Marshmallow reviews Lucy & Andy Neanderthal, the first book in the Lucy & Andy Neanderthal series of Jeffrey Brown.

Marshmallow and Caramel recently got their paws on books by Jeffrey Brown. A couple weeks ago, Caramel reviewed his, My Teacher is a Robot. Today Marshmallow reviews hers, the first book in the Lucy & Andy Neanderthal series of Jeffrey Brown: Lucy & Andy Neanderthal.

Marshmallow reviews Lucy & Andy Neanderthal by Jeffrey Brown.
Marshmallow reviews Lucy & Andy Neanderthal by Jeffrey Brown.

Marshmallow’s quick take: If you like comic books or fiction books that also have some facts about interesting stuff, then this might be the book for you.

Marshmallow’s Summary (with spoilers): Lucy & Andy Neanderthal is a comic book about a brother and a sister, Lucy and Andy Neanderthal, who are two Neanderthal kids living in the Stone Age. They have a little brother, Danny, and share their cave with a few other people including two older kids, Phil and Margaret. Andy really wants to join their family when they go to hunt, but his parents will not let him because hunting mammoth is too dangerous. 

Lucy and Andy have many adventures. One of them, “Substitute Babysitters”, starts with a rock Andy throws that hits Phil on the head by accident. Phil’s head swells. Lucy, Andy, and Margaret take Phil to Lucy and Andy’s mother so she can help him. She goes looking for medicine, and leaves Andy and Lucy to look after their little brother, Danny, while Margaret looks after Phil. 

Danny finds a stick and starts banging it around. Lucy takes the stick from him, and Andy gives another stick to Danny. Lucy keeps finding a problem with the sticks Andy offers to Danny, like how it is too small and how Danny could choke on it. Then Danny starts crying and Andy gives him another stick, but Danny slaps it away. Then they follow Danny to the cave where Margaret offers him some berries. Danny eats the berries and then he throws up. Lucy has Andy clean it up and then Andy gets mad and imitates Lucy. Lucy farts and then blames it on Andy. In the midst of this chaos, Danny sneaks away. 

Once the older kids realize that Danny sneaked away, they start to panic. They start looking for Danny and find Danny’s pants. Phil thinks that Danny must have been eaten, but Andy says that Danny always takes his pants off. Eventually they find Danny and get him to come back to the cave. 

The above probably already gives you a sense of the kinds of stories in the book. They are always hilarious! But close to the end of the book, the Neanderthals meet the humans. The humans invite the Neanderthals over to dinner because they ate the leftovers of the mammoth that the Neanderthals hunted. Will the two groups be friends or mortal enemies?

Marshmallow is pointing to a typical page of Lucy & Andy Neanderthal by Jeffrey Brown.
Marshmallow is pointing to a typical page of Lucy & Andy Neanderthal by Jeffrey Brown.

Marshmallow’s review: Lucy & Andy Neanderthal is a very funny book. Jeffrey Brown’s drawings are very successful, and the writing is very clear, so even a reader who has never read a comic book before can enjoy reading the book. 

The main characters are fictional Neanderthals living in the Stone Age, but there are also two scientist characters who tell us facts that relate to the stories. They tell us about the first toothbrush for instance, and the differences between the modern humans and the Neanderthals. There are more facts at the end of the book. For instance, you can learn there that Neanderthal women hunted, too:

“Scientists still debate whether men hunted more, but Neanderthal women at least participated in some, if not all, hunting.”

I enjoyed this book very much and reread it many times. I highly recommend it to people who like comic books and Neanderthals. Of course you might not know you like Neanderthals before reading the book. So why don’t you just give it a try?

Marshmallow’s rating: 100% 

Marshmallow rates Lucy & Andy Neanderthal by Jeffrey Brown 100%.
Marshmallow rates Lucy & Andy Neanderthal by Jeffrey Brown 100%.

Caramel reviews Samurai by Louie Stowell

Caramel loves reading books about real things. In previous weeks he reviewed Knights and Castles (Magic Tree House Fact Tracker #2) by Will Osborne and Mary Pope Osborne and The Complete Guide to Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Reptiles by Chris McNab. This week he shares his thoughts on another nonfiction book: Samurai by Louie Stowell. As usual Sprinkles is taking notes and asking followup questions as needed.

Caramel reviews Samurai by Louie Stowell.
Caramel reviews Samurai by Louie Stowell.

Sprinkles: So Caramel, what is this book about?

Caramel: It’s about samurai of course!

S: But what is a samurai?

C: Samurai were the noble horseback warriors of old Japan. They fought with swords named katana, and bows and arrows. They had a code of honor called bushido. That means that they followed certain rules. For example, if a samurai was losing in a battle, he would not be captured alive. He used one of his special swords to kill himself. This was called seppuku or hara-kiri.

S: That sounds rough. What else did you learn from this book?

C: Samurai thought the cherry blossom was an important symbol, because at the height of its beauty it would fall to the ground to die. Samurai also had to be willing to sacrifice themselves before they got old. They saw the cherry blossom as a proof that this was the natural way of things.

S: That is kind of romantic. And cherry blossoms are really pretty,. aren’t they?

C: Yes, they are! They are called sakura! They are a very pale pink and they are really beautiful!

S: Did you learn anything else?

C: Yes. Samurai wrote poems and read a lot. They also liked the arts. Most samurai were men, though women of samurai families also learned to fight and some even went to battle.

S: Why are you always speaking of them in the past tense Caramel? Are there no samurai left now?

C: Not exactly. In 1873 the emperor of Japan decided to replace the samurai with a modern army. Today there are no samurai left in Japan but only their descendants.

S: That is a big word Caramel! Do you know what it means?

C: It means relatives and people who came after.

S: Yes, that’s more or less it.

C: Samurai served clan lords, or a shogun, the military leader of Japan. The book tells stories of many wars of many samurai families. Many of them died.

S: So did you enjoy this book Caramel?

C: Yes. It was kind of violent though. Lots of people killing each other and themselves, and lots of death.

S: True. Hmm.. What else can we say about this book?

Caramel shows some of the pictures in Samurai by Louie Stowell.
Caramel shows some of the pictures in Samurai by Louie Stowell.

C: There are many pictures in the book. And this is a chapter book. It has seven chapters.

S: Do you have a favorite one?

C: Not really. But I have a least favorite one. The third chapter is called The Scarlet Sea. And it is about two clans of samurai fighting and the losing side dying. It is very sad.

S: Yes, that was a sad story, wasn’t it?

C: Yes.

S: Hmm.. let us end in a more upbeat tone. You also know how to make samurai helmets, right?

C: Yes! Just right for samurai bunnies! You can find some helpful directions here. And below is me wearing a samurai helmet I made!

Caramel is proudly wearing his samurai helmet.
Caramel is proudly wearing his samurai helmet.
Caramel really enjoyed learning about samurai!
Caramel really enjoyed learning about samurai!

Caramel reviews Knights and Castles (Magic Tree House Fact Tracker #2) by Will Osborne and Mary Pope Osborne

Caramel recently started reading the Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne. After reading the first two books and their accompanying Fact Tracker books, he decided that he really really likes the second Fact Tracker book on knights and castles that is meant to accompany Magic Tree House #2: The Knight at Dawn. Below he shares his thoughts on why. Sprinkles is taking notes and asking followup questions when needed.

Caramel reviews Knights and Castles by Will Osborne and Mary Pope Osborne.

Sprinkles: What do you want to tell us about this book Caramel?

Caramel: It’s nice. There’s lots of pictures. And it has many many facts. The whole book is full of facts. I like that.

S: Yes, I noticed you like nonfiction a lot. You always make sure to share your favorite facts even in your reviews of fiction books. Why do you like nonfiction?

C: Then I know more about the world. And I like learning new things. My middle name should be Curious!

S: I like that! So what kind of facts did you learn from this book?

C: The knights lived in the Middle Ages.

S: Do you know when that was?

C: Not really.

S: Let us look at the book together!

C: 1300s? Ok, I’m reading from page 14:

“The Middle Ages began about 450 AD. They lasted for over 1000 years.”

That is a long time!

S: Yes it is.

Caramel is finding that he likes books with facts!

S: What other facts did you find interesting?

C: Let me look. The first castles! I’m reading on page 22:

“The first castles looked more like forts in the Old West than like castles in fairy tales. They were built out of wood. These castles were usually built on a mound of earth called a motte.”

S: Was that one of your favorite facts?

C: Yep. And I learned about tournaments. Then I was curious and wanted to learn more. So I saw a video from the History Channel that showed people fighting with lances today. It’s called jousting. There are men in full armor, on horses, and the horses have armor too. And the men have lances. A lance is a very long stick with a sharp end to poke your enemy with. But in a tournament, it is enough to push your enemy off their horse.

S: Would you want to be in a jousting tournament?

C: I’m a bunny! How would I carry a lance and ride a horse? I’m too small for that.

S: It also kind of looks violent, right?

C: Yes, but there are rules against actually hurting one another. And the horse. You cannot hit the other guy’s horse!

S: That sounds fair. So what else did you like about this book Caramel?

C: I like that the book is all about facts, but sometimes on the sides of the book, there is Jack and Annie from the Magic Tree House books, and they tell us things.

S: Yes, I saw them on the margins too. What kinds of things do they say?

C: Annie for instance says at some point that it wasn’t fair that only boys could be knights. She’s right, of course!

S: Yes, that’s true. Girls couldn’t do many things back then.

C: But today girls can do so much more! They can do anything! The person who wrote the Magic Tree House books is a girl, for example!

S: And she does write really well, doesn’t she?

C: Yes, and I’m looking forward to reading more of her books.

Caramel really enjoyed Knights and Castles and is looking forward to reading more of the Fact Tracker books.