Marshmallow reviews Drama by Raina Telgemeier

Both Marshmallow and Caramel are keen readers of graphic novels and they have both reviewed a handful of them for this blog. In particular Marshmallow has reviewed two books by Raina Telgemeier in 2020; you can check out her reviews of Ghost (2016) and the graphic novel version of Ann N. Martin’s Kristy’s Great Idea (The Baby-Sitters Club Graphic Novels #1) (2006). Today she decided to talk about another book by Telgemeier, the 2012 book Drama.

Marshmallow reviews Drama by Raina Telgemeier.
Marshmallow reviews Drama by Raina Telgemeier.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like books about school, or you like to think about theatre and plays and performances in school, or if you like graphic novels and have especially enjoyed books by Raina Telgemeier, like Ghosts, for example, then this might be the book for you. 

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): Seventh grader Callie is on the stage crew as set designer for this year’s production of Moon over Mississippi, with her best friend, Liz, who is in charge of the costumes. However, she is having issues with her friendships. Also, the school has a limited budget for the performance, so she is restricted in terms of the set pieces she can make. She wants to have a cannon for example, but their budget will allow for only two sets. 

Callie loves theater and she would try out, but she is unable to sing. However, she makes friends with a pair of twins, Jesse and Justin, one of whom, Justin, is trying out for the leading man. The other twin, Jesse, can sing but wants to give his brother a chance to shine. Unfortunately, when the results come out, Justin does not get the leading role. He gets one of the other roles, Colonel Scrimshaw; Justin is very disappointed. Also, Bonnie, a girl Callie does not like, gets the leading woman role. This creates some issues in terms of the cast and the stage crew. 

Also the cannon Callie wanted so much is not working out, as the confetti poppers they are using fails the first time. Callie has to deal with complicated sets, and complications in her social life. Can Callie get Moon over Mississippi up and running?

Marshmallow is reading Drama by Raina Telgemeier.
Marshmallow is reading Drama by Raina Telgemeier.

Marshmallow’s Review: This book is written in a different way than is usual. The characters are actually in a play, themselves. The book is written as if we are seeing the scenes of the play; only in between them, we see the author and the audience. I thought it was interesting that the characters were creating a play, as they performed in one themselves, and it worked really well for me.

According to the Wikipedia article for it, Drama was the seventh most banned book of the 2010-2019 decade in the United States. This seems to be due to the fact that two of Callie’s good friends are gay and they are portrayed in a positive way, which some parents believe children should not be exposed to. However I thought the gay characters were portrayed just as all the others were, and things flowed naturally and realistically. Just like To Night Owl From Dogfish, which also had some gay characters without making the whole story about gender identity or sexual orientation (which might make things more contentious for some), Drama tells a good, compelling story about a bunch of middle schoolers, who are diverse in many ways, and is worth the read.

As the story is about middle school, Drama might be more appropriate for bunnies older than 9. Also there is some falling in love and having crushes stuff going on, and younger bunnies will most likely not find that too exciting.

Marshmallow’s Rating: 95%.

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

Caramel reviews From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea by Kai Cheng Thom

For his first review back, Caramel grabbed a book from a pile of books on Sprinkles’s desk for which she has been planning a joint review and decided he wanted to review it. The book From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea, written by Kai Cheng Thom and illustrated by Wai-Yant Li and Kai Yun Ching, is about a young child and their identity. As usual Sprinkles is taking notes and asking questions—and she is still planning a review of the remaining books on her pile on this topic for the near future.

Caramel reviews From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea, written by Kai Cheng Thom and illustrated by Wai-Yant Li and Kai Yun Ching.
Caramel reviews From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea, written by Kai Cheng Thom and illustrated by Wai-Yant Li and Kai Yun Ching.

Sprinkles: So Caramel, you grabbed this book from my pile and decided you want to review it yourself. Why?

Caramel: I like it. I like the creatures in it. The illustrations.

S: You are right, the illustrations are neat. They have beautiful colors and they remind one of being in a dream.

C: This book is a good book if you like mythical animals.

S: Okay, I see what you did there. That is the kind of thing Marshmallow says about books when she is reviewing them. But where do you find mythical animals in this book?

C: In the pictures!

S: Tell me more about the book Caramel.

C: There is a child named Miu Lan in this book. They are not a boy nor a girl.

S: Are they a mythical creature themselves then?

C: Sort of. Basically they are.

S: But not really, right? Because this can happen sometimes, and a child may not feel like they are a boy or a girl or a little bit of both or neither.

C: Yes, but I think Miu Lan is actually a mythical creature, because they can change their form when they want. When they want to, they can grow a turtle shell and porcupine quills.

Caramel is looking at the pages in From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea (written by Kai Cheng Thom and illustrated by Wai-Yant Li and Kai Yun Ching) where Miu Lan is going to school for the first time and they are so excited that "they grew a tail of peacock feathers and a coat of tiger stripes".
Caramel is looking at the pages in From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea (written by Kai Cheng Thom and illustrated by Wai-Yant Li and Kai Yun Ching) where Miu Lan is going to school for the first time and they are so excited that “they grew a tail of peacock feathers and a coat of tiger stripes”.

C: And they can also fly!

S: Yes, I love how they have scales and feathers or wings or stripes as they wish. It is pretty exciting to think about. But do you really think they are doing those things when they claim they are?

C: Probably not. But it would be cool if we could do that, wouldn’t it?

S: I think so, too. I’d especially like to be able to fly.

C: As bunnies we can at least jump pretty high…

S: Again, true. But back to Miu Lan. I don’t think they are a mythical being any more than you or me. But there are two little creatures that show up on each page that look like mythical beasts themselves.

C: Yes. There is a dog with a fish tail, or maybe a whale tail. I don’t know. I think that is the best creature in the book.

S: There is also a poem that the mother sings to her child every other page and we hear it resonate through the story, like in a retelling of a myth, where you would have repeated verses. Can you read that poem to me?

C: Okay let me find it. Ah, here we go:

whatever you dream of,
i believe you can be,
from the stars in the sky to the fish in the sea.
you can crawl like a crab or with feathers fly high,
and i'll always be here, i'll be near, standing by,
and you know that i'll love you till the day that i die. 
whatever you dream of,
i believe you can be,
for you are my child, courageous and free. 

S: That is beautiful Caramel, isn’t it?

C: Yes but it is not the best sleeping poem, because I don’t think I want to think of you dying before I go to sleep.

S: I can see that, but saying “I’ll love you till I die” is something people say when they love someone so deeply and so unconditionally, that they want to make sure the person knows their love will always be there as long as that person lives. I can see how the death part might be off-putting. Other than that, do you like the poem?

C: Yes. Other than the death part I like it.

S: So the book is about this child Mui Lan who is different from other children in their school and they try to fit in and find friends and have some difficulties.

C: Yes. But in the end things work out. They do make friends.

S: That is true. This is a beautiful story. Maybe I will read it to you again tonight.

C: Yes, yes, yes, yes, I’d like that!

S: So now are we ready to wrap up this review?

C: Yes! Stay tuned for more book bunnies reviews!

Caramel enjoyed reading and looking at the pictures in From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea, written by Kai Cheng Thom and illustrated by Wai-Yant Li and Kai Yun Ching.
Caramel enjoyed reading and looking at the pictures in From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea, written by Kai Cheng Thom and illustrated by Wai-Yant Li and Kai Yun Ching.

Marshmallow reviews George by Alex Gino

This week Marshmallow reviews a book by Alex Gino, George. about a transgender child and her struggle to be accepted as who she is. The novel has won several awards and was both highly praised and significantly criticized for various reasons.

Marshmallow reviews George by Alex Gino.
Marshmallow reviews George by Alex Gino.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like books about finding one’s identity, then this might be the book for you.

Marshmallow’s Summary (with spoilers): George is seen by everyone around her as a boy but she feels like she is a girl. She wants to be called a she and she wants to wear skirts and make-up. She keeps magazines for teenage girls hidden in her room, and imagines that she is there with other girls in the pictures. When she looks in the mirror, she calls herself Melissa.

George’s class is reading Charlotte’s Web. She cries at the end when Charlotte dies. The boys in the class laugh and say that she is not a “real” boy. But she doesn’t want to be a boy. When her class decides to put on play for Charlotte’s Web, George really, really wants to be Charlotte, the brave, kind heroine of the story. But when she auditions for the part, her teacher thinks that she is joking. George is devastated. The teacher says that she can be Wilbur or some other character because she was very good, but she couldn’t be Charlotte because there are too many girls that want to be Charlotte.

One day when George gets home, she sees that her mother has found her magazines. Her mother does not understand it when George tells her she is a girl. George feels that her mother does not see who she is.

When George’s best friend Kelly gets the Charlotte role, she tries to be supportive, but she is actually very jealous. Seeing that her friend is sad, Kelly hatches a plan. There are two showings of Charlotte’s Web. Kelly will perform in one and George will perform in the other. George knows that she can perform Charlotte’s part very well but she is worried about what her mother and other people will think of her.

(In this summary I used the name George for the main character as the author does themselves all the way until page 181, but also please remember that deadnaming is not ok.)

Marshmallow is reading George by Alex Gino.
Marshmallow is reading George by Alex Gino.

Marshmallow’s Review: This is a very moving book in which the main character looks like a boy but she feels like a girl. It is very sad when she is not able to be Charlotte in the play because she had her heart set on it. It is very interesting how she calls the magazines her “friends”.

George is a very good book that moves the reader and it is very sad how the main character really wants to be a girl and everyone keeps on telling her that “he” acts like a girl. It is also very sad how her mother tells her that she shouldn’t be dressing up like a girl and that “it’s not cute anymore.”

George is very well-written and it has a lot of interesting and different characters. It is really good for those who themselves don’t feel like the gender that they look like to other people. But all bunnies can appreciate the story because everyone feels different in some ways.

Marshmallow’s Rating: 95%.

Marshmallow rates George by Alex Gino 95%.
Marshmallow rates George by Alex Gino 95%.