Marshmallow reviews Ivy and Bean Make the Rules by Annie Barrows (Book 9 of the Ivy + Bean Series)

Marshmallow has enjoyed reading the Ivy + Bean series written by Annie Barrows and illustrated by Sophie Blackall for a few years now. Below she shares some thoughts on the ninth book and her favorite in the series: Ivy and Bean Make the Rules. Sprinkles is taking notes and asking some followup questions.

Marshmallow reviews Ivy and Bean Make the Rules (Book 9 of the Ivy + Bean series) written by Annie Barrows and illustrated by Sophie Blackall.
Marshmallow reviews Ivy and Bean Make the Rules (Book 9 of the Ivy + Bean series) written by Annie Barrows and illustrated by Sophie Blackall.

Sprinkles: You wanted to talk about Ivy and Bean today, right, Marshmallow?

Marshmallow: Yes. 

S: So what do you want to tell us about these books? 

M: I like reading these books. I also like the fact that Ivy and Bean actually think like kids, and Bean has reactions that I can relate to. Some books are about kids but the characters in them do not always behave or think like kids. Bean and Ivy are a lot more real, a lot more like kids. 

S: So then tell us a bit about Ivy and Bean. Who are they? 

M: Bean is a girl who has an annoying older sister. 

S: So kind of like Ramona the Pest, no?

M: No, not quite. Ramona’s sister is annoying in a different way. But honestly, I have no experience about having an annoying big sister. Anyways, Bean is a little wild, she is sometimes herself annoying. 

S: And what about Ivy?

M: Ivy is an only child, and she is a bit calmer, and she is smarter. She also wants to be a witch when she grows up.

S: That sounds like a good match. So how old are they?

M: They’re about seven years old. 

S: So do you think this book series would be a good fit for new readers of age 5-7? 

M: Yes. 

S: And you are still reading them too. What can big kids get out of these books?

M: The books are really funny, and they make me laugh.

S: Even though you have read them several times before. I read them too and I remember them as being really funny. The girls sometimes come up with ridiculous ideas. So tell us about what happens in the ninth book of the series, Ivy and Bean Make the Rules

M: It’s about how Bean’s sister Nancy is going to this camp called Girl Power 4Ever, and Bean wants to go but she doesn’t want Nancy to know. And she can’t go anyways, you have to be 11 to go. Then she decides to build a tree house. She can’t though, because she doesn’t have nails. And then she uses duct tape. 

Marshmallow is pointing at the pages in Ivy and Bean Make the Rules where Bean is planning to make her tree house.
Marshmallow is pointing at the pages in Ivy and Bean Make the Rules where Bean is planning to make her tree house.

S: That sounds hilarious. So when does Ivy come into the picture?

M: She sneaks up on Bean as Bean is working on her tree house. Then Bean decides her tree house is stupid and wants to do nature study and crafts. Ivy says we can make our own camp, and so they do. 

S: Ok, so they decide to start their own camp. How does that go?

M: They go spy on Nancy’s camp to get some ideas, and they find some kids, and they start doing some crafts and some more absurd stuff. They also set some silly rules. 

S: What kinds of rules?

M: Let me find some for you from the book:

“Rule number one!” said Bean. “You can only have as much fun as you are willing to get hurt!”
“Rule two!” said Ivy. “Live and learn!” Her mother said that a lot. 
“Rule three!” yelled Bean. “The counselor is always right!”

S: None of this sounds like a very good idea. 

M: There are even more, look:

Ivy began to giggle. “Rule four! If you want to make an omelet, you’re going to have to break some eggs.”
“If you can’t beat’em, join’em!” bellowed Bean.
“Don’t get mad, get even!” yelled Ivy. 
“I don’t think this is a real camp,” said Frannie. 

Marshmallow is pointing at the pages in Ivy and Bean Make the Rules where the two girls are listing the rules of their camp, Camp Flaming Arrow.
Marshmallow is pointing at the pages in Ivy and Bean Make the Rules where the two girls are listing the rules of their camp, Camp Flaming Arrow.

S: These sound quite random and not terribly safe. 

M: They are not great rules to follow, like the fifth rule is not quite a good idea: “Don’t get mad, get even.”

S: Well, Caramel reviewed a book about training an angry dragon, so maybe they should have read that book! Getting mad is not very helpful is it? Ok, what else do you want to say about this book? Why did you choose this one to talk about?

M: This is the funniest one of the ten. I like reading out some parts, they are so funny.

S: This is the ninth book, though. Do you think someone could jump in and read this one before reading the previous eight books? 

M: Sure, they can still enjoy it, but it might be better if they start from the beginning. If you do that, you know the past stories about how successful Ivy has been in becoming a witch for instance.

S: And that kind of knowledge about the characters’ back stories enriches the experience of reading this book, I agree. And it is about time to wrap up this review. Is there anything else you would like to say to our readers? 

M: Yes! Stay tuned for more Book Bunnies reviews.

Marshmallow continues to enjoy reading Ivy and Bean Make the Rules (Book 9 of the Ivy + Bean series) written by Annie Barrows and illustrated by Sophie Blackall.
Marshmallow continues to enjoy reading Ivy and Bean Make the Rules (Book 9 of the Ivy + Bean series) written by Annie Barrows and illustrated by Sophie Blackall.

Marshmallow reviews The Lost Girl by Anne Ursu

Marshmallow recently got her paws on Anne Ursu’s recent book The Lost Girl, and finished it in two days. Below she shares some of her thoughts on the book.

Marshmallow reviews The Lost Girl by Anne Ursu.
Marshmallow reviews The Lost Girl by Anne Ursu.

Marshmallow’s quick take: If you like books that are about mystery and friendship, then this might be for you. 

Marshmallow’s Summary (with spoilers): Let me start with the publisher’s synopsis: 

“When you are an identical twin, your story always starts with someone else. For Iris, that means her story starts with Lark. Iris has always been the grounded, capable, and rational one; Lark is inventive, dreamy, and brilliant–and from their first moments in the world together, they’ve never left each other’s side. Everyone around them realized early on what the two sisters already knew: they had better outcomes when they were together.”

This already tells you that the book is about twins Iris and Lark. We know that they complement each other. A big problem that they face in the book is that the adults in their lives think it might be better for them to be separate for a while. This is a big deal and shakes both girls up a lot. This is one of the two main threads in the book.

The second thread is about a mysterious store. Before fifth grade starts, a small odd shop named Treasure Hunters opens in their town. Right outside the shop is a sign that says:

WE ARE HERE.”

Iris and Lark go in the store, and inside they meet a man that Iris thinks looks like a mole. Iris asks him about the sign. The man asks if they believe in keeping their promise. They say that they do. The man acts as if that answered their question.

Then later, they learn about their class assignments. For the first time they are going to be in different classes: Iris has Mrs. Shonubi and Lark has Mr. Hunt. The girls think that Mr. Hunt is a mean teacher, “an ogre”, they think. (Actually they think he is a real ogre, the mythical one.)

The girls soon realize that the sign next to the new shop no longer says, “WE ARE HERE.” The sign now says,

ARE YOU?

The girls are startled and think that it is a peculiar way of advertising. As their school starts the sign changes again and this time says

ALICE, WHERE ARE YOU?

Iris enters the store to ask who Alice is. The man seems reluctant but eventually says that Alice was his sister. Iris asks what happened to her and the man says that she just disappeared. He looks very sad.

Alice is not the only person or thing that disappears however. The famous Spoonbridge and Cherry in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden also disappears. So does a beluga named Peanut and the sulu bleeding heart specimen. Some items in Iris and Lark’s home also go missing: Lark’s bracelet, a doll named Baby Thing, Lark’s beanbag cat named Esmerelda, and a figure of an ogre. Where do all these go? Find out in The Lost Girl.  

Marshmallow is pointing at a picture from the book, but do not look too carefully if you don't want any further spoilers!
Marshmallow is pointing at a picture from the book, but do not look too carefully if you don’t want any further spoilers!

Marshmallow’s review: This is a very interesting book that has an intriguing plot. It is a little creepy, so it is for ages eight and up. There is a very interesting twist toward the end and the bad guy turns out to be someone that is unexpected.

This is a book that is about friendship. It is a mix between creepy, mystery, and friendship. Iris unwillingly goes to a camp for girls and finds that friendship between girls can be empowering, despite her original cynicism.

The plot is intricate, and everything fits together, just like in Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, though if you are not careful or if you read it too fast, in the end it might get a little bit confusing. But all in all it is well planned and it is evident that the author planned everything out and left clues for the reader.

Marshmallow’s rating: 95%

Marshmallow rates The Lost Girl by Anne Ursu 95%.
Marshmallow rates The Lost Girl by Anne Ursu 95%.

Marshmallow reviews The Silver Chair (Book 4 of the Chronicles of Narnia) by C. S. Lewis

The book bunny family has spent several happy hours listening to C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia books in the publishing order these last few months. Marshmallow was ahead of us of course, and she had already read them all before we had even begun listening. Below she writes about the fourth book (sixth in the chronological order): The Silver Chair.

Marshmallow reviews The Silver Chair by C. S. Lewis.
Marshmallow reviews The Silver Chair by C. S. Lewis.

Marshmallow’s quick take: If you liked the first three Narnia books (or five, depending on which order you’re reading them in), then this might be the book for you.

Marshmallow’s Summary (with spoilers): While at school, Eustace Scrubb describes to Jill Pole the magical land of Narnia, which he had visited in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (book 3 in the publishing order). When bullies at school start to chase them, Eustace and Jill run into a shed to escape them. They open the shed door and inside the shed there is a beautiful land. They find themselves on the top of a very, very, VERY tall cliff. It is so high that the clouds are way below it. Eustace is scared of being so high up. (I would be scared too.) Jill, though, cannot see the bottom, so she scoffs at Eustace and says that he is a scaredy-rabbit. She then goes to the edge of the cliff to show off that she is not scared and looks down. Eustace tries to pull her away from the edge of the cliff, but she shoves him away and accidentally pushes him off the cliff. Immediately a lion comes and starts blowing at him so Eustace’s flight is smoother. The lion later tells Jill that he has blown him to Narnia.

When the lion leaves, Jill starts crying. Then she realizes that she is very thirsty. She finds a stream, but next to the stream there is a lion again. She is scared that the lion will eat her, but she is very thirsty. The lion then says that if she is thirsty then she should come and drink. She asks if he will promise not to eat her. The lion says that he makes no promises. Then she asks if he will move away while she is drinking from the stream. He says nothing but Jill thinks that he will not. In the end, Jill still decides that she has to drink water and she drinks from the spring. Then the lion explains their quest to Jill.

The lion explains that Prince Rilian of Narnia, the one and only son and heir to the throne of Caspian the Tenth or Caspian the Seafarer, disappeared while hunting for the giant snake that stung and killed his mother, the queen. Their mission is to find the prince and bring him to his father. Can they succeed?

Marshmallow is pointing at Pauline Baynes' illustration of Puddleglum the Marsh-wiggle, a character from The Silver Chair.
Marshmallow is pointing at Pauline Baynes’ illustration of Puddleglum the Marsh-wiggle, a character from The Silver Chair.

Marshmallow’s review: This is my favorite Narnia book. It is an old classic and its age shows a bit. For example, Jill cries a little bit too much; I just didn’t like how she was portrayed. But she at least does know a lot of stuff; I liked her more than Lucy and Susan, the other main female characters in the Narnia books. 

Otherwise, this is a good book overall. The story is well told and well written. The plot is very successful and intriguing. I think someone who has not read any of the other Narnia books might still enjoy reading this book, but of course the back stories of the main characters add to one’s understanding of the whole story.

Marshmallow’s rating: 90%.

Marshmallow rates C. S. Lewis' The Silver Chair 90%.
Marshmallow rates C. S. Lewis’ The Silver Chair 90%.

Marshmallow reviews In the Fifth at Malory Towers by Enid Blyton

Marshmallow has finally gotten into the Malory Towers series by Enid Blyton, which used to be a favorite of Sprinkles when she was a young bunny. In the review below Marshmallow reviews the fifth book of the series: In the Fifth at Malory Towers. As a change, this time Sprinkles is involved, too. Let us see how this one goes.

Marshmallow reviews In the Fifth at Malory Towers by Enid Blyton.
Marshmallow reviews In the Fifth at Malory Towers by Enid Blyton.

Sprinkles: So Marshmallow I have been seeing you reading the Malory Towers books over and over in these last few days.

Marshmallow: Yeah, I have been reading them, that’s true.

S: Can you tell our readers what these books are all about?

M: They are about some British girls going to a school called Malory Towers. Malory Towers is a boarding school for girls only.

S: The school is for six year and there is one book for each year, right?

M: Yes. Each year, there are multiple problems that come up and we see the girls grow up as they go through all that. Though some of them don’t seem to get more mature. They don’t seem to get nicer.

S: Yes, there is a specific mean character, you mean?

M: Yes. She’s spiteful, cunning, and sly. She’s also conceited; she thinks she’s great.

S: You’re talking about Gwendoline, right?

M: Yes, Gwendoline Mary Lacey. And she lies to her parents, too, telling them that she is good at everything.

S: Ok, let us talk about the more pleasant characters. Tell us about some of them.

M: Darrell Rivers is the main character. And her best friend is Sally Hope.

S: They are both good kids, right?

M: Well. Darrell has some anger issues. At least in the earlier books.

S: Then she should read Caramel’s review of Train Your Angry Dragon, right?

M: That might not be good enough. She needs to read the book! Anyways, Sally also is not perfect. She gets jealous sometimes. But overall they are, as you say, good kids. Actually most of the characters have some serious flaws.

S: But isn’t that quite natural? No bunny is perfect.

M: Yes I suppose that’s true. And maybe that makes the book more realistic.

S: Ok, now it is probably time that we start talking about the fifth book. Why did you want to talk about this one more specifically?

M: This one is my favorite. It’s interesting to see how all the talents and strengths of the girls come together to create something, the Christmas show.

S: You and your classmates often do school plays, right?

M: Yes we do at least one play every other year.

S: That does take a lot of group effort and practice.

M. Right. But in this book there are also other problems that the girls have to face. Moira and Alicia get really mad at each other for instance and Alicia quits. Then Alicia’s cousin June gets mad at Moira and starts writing poison pen letters.

S: That’s an interesting phrase Marshmallow. What does poison pen letter mean?

M: I had not heard of it before reading this book but Wikipedia has a brief description.

S: That’s really mean, right? To send spiteful and anonymous letters to people to hurt them?

M: Yes, that’s really mean. In the end June is punished for it. But let us not spoil the book for the readers. Maybe this is a good place to stop?

S: Yes, I think we gave them some good teasers so they can follow up with the threads themselves. Thanks for the chat Marshmallow.

M: Yay! I get to say it this time: Stay tuned for more reviews from the Book Bunnies!

Marshmallow enjoyed reading In the Fifth at Malory Towers by Enid Blyton.
Marshmallow enjoyed reading In the Fifth at Malory Towers by Enid Blyton.