Marshmallow reviews Willodeen by Katherine Applegate

Today Marshmallow reviews Willodeen, a 2021 novel by Katherine Applegate.

Marshmallow reviews Willodeen by Katherine Applegate.
Marshmallow reviews Willodeen by Katherine Applegate.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like books about friendship, magic, or animals, then this might be the book for you. 

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): Willodeen loves all animals. Every single one, no matter how gross, or scary, or smelly, Willodeen adores them all. Especially the screechers. Screechers are scary animals, beasts that release a disgusting smell when frightened.

Screechers are about the polar opposites of hummingbears, which are the main claim to fame of Perchance, Willodeen’s village. Hummingbears are small with wings and they nest every year in Perchance because of the trees there. Tourists flock to Perchance to see the adorable creatures. Unfortunately, over the years, fewer and fewer hummingbears have graced Perchance, and the townspeople find it harder and harder to make a living. However, no one wants to see screechers, so the city councilors of Perchance put a bounty on screechers. Hunters immediately start to kill screechers, because no one is very rich.

Willodeen loves screechers: she observes them, names them, and likes to watch them. But slowly, the number of screechers dwindles, until the last one is killed by a hunter with a bow and arrow. That’s when something miraculous happens. Willodeen receives a hand-made model of a screecher from her new friend Connor, and the model seems to become a real baby screecher. Willodeen suddenly finds herself with the challenge of feeding, living with, and raising a baby screecher, which is no easy task, especially with the bounty.

Eventually Willodeen finds that the lessening of hummingbears is related to the screechers. Can Willodeen bring the hummingbears back to Perchance?

Marshmallow is reading Willodeen by Katherine Applegate.
Marshmallow is reading Willodeen by Katherine Applegate.

Marshmallow’s Review: Willodeen is set in a fantastic setting, with the people using bows and arrows instead of guns. The story is set in a small town called Perchance where magical animals roam. However, despite Perchance’s magical beasts, the author speaks about how the world and nature is changing, and not always for the better. So in some ways, I thought the author was thinking of our world where a lot has been changing.

I found it interesting that the main character and narrator, Willodeen, is very antisocial. After suffering from a terrible tragedy, she interacts very little with other people. Slowly however, she opens up towards new friends. It was neat to witness her opening up and finding other people to trust and love. I kind of wished to know more about her family, too, but that part kind of went too fast.

I liked the magical animals in this book. In the edition I have read, there were illustrations (by Charles Santoso) of some of the events in the book, which I really liked. The small creatures reminded me a bit of Newt Scamander and his love of all magical beasts in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Willodeen was written by Katherine Applegate, who also wrote The One and Only Ivan. I liked that both books showed animals as creatures that think, feel, and need love, as much as humans do. The One and Only Ivan was written completely in the voice of Ivan the gorilla. In Willodeen, there are some chapters where we see events from, I believe, the perspective of the baby screecher. I found that those chapters were interesting to read, because we could see the main human characters from the perspective of an animal. 

Marshmallow’s Rating: 90%.

Marshmallow rates Willodeen by Katherine Applegate 90%.
Marshmallow rates Willodeen by Katherine Applegate 90%.

Marshmallow reviews The One And Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

This week Marshmallow writes about Katherine Applegate’s 2012 book The One and Only Ivan.

Marshmallow reviews The One And Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate.
Marshmallow reviews The One And Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like books about animals and their take on the world around us, then this might be the book for you. 

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): Ivan is a gorilla who, by his count, has lived in the Exit 8 Big Top Mall by the Video Arcade for 9,855 days (that is about 27 years). His friends include Stella, Bob, Ruby, Julia, and later Kinyani. Stella is an elephant who has a good memory and tells stories to Ivan. Bob is a stray dog who sneaks into Ivan’s “domain” (which is what he calls his display area) and enjoys sleeping on top of Ivan’s stomach. Julie is a girl whose father, George, works as the mall’s custodian. Ruby is a baby elephant who appears in about the middle of the book. She is “adopted” by Stella, who treats her like her own child. Kinyani shows up later in the book.

Sadly, Stella passes away due to an old injury that causes trouble. Before she passes away, she has Ivan promise to her that he will make sure that he takes her to a zoo, which she thinks is where humans “make amends”. As the book progresses, Ivan starts to change his mind about his “domain” and plans to take Ruby to a zoo. 

Marshmallow is reading The One And Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate.
Marshmallow is reading The One And Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate.

Marshmallow’s Review: I think that this is a really sweet book because Ivan is a really kind character. His character is unique since he never gets angry. He also really likes to draw. He particularly enjoys drawing banana peels. Though people don’t understand what they are supposed to be, his drawings are sold at a shop. 

This is a great book, also because it shows that animals think too. (LIKE BUNNIES!) People seem to forget this when they swat flies or hunt cute animals. (LIKE BUNNIES!) Ivan shows this when he writes about things that happened to him. It is sad, too, because poachers captured him along with his sister, and while they were in a truck, his sister died.

The One And Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate is based on the true story of the western lowland gorilla named Ivan, who lived through similar circumstances. He was captured by humans and brought to live with them. But he grew too big so they moved him to be on display. He spent twenty-seven years there but was finally moved to Zoo Atlanta.

The One And Only Ivan has recently been made into a movie. The Book Bunnies haven’t watched the movie yet, but here is the trailer:

The One and Only Ivan | Official Trailer: “An adaptation of the award-winning book about one very special gorilla, Disney’s “The One and Only Ivan” is an unforgettable tale about the beauty of friendship, the power of visualization and the significance of the place one calls home.”

The story, plot, and characters are well written. I really enjoyed reading The One And Only Ivan. 

Marshmallow’s Rating: 100%.

Marshmallow rates The One And Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate 100%.
Marshmallow rates The One And Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate 100%.