Marshmallow reviews The Hidden Oracle (Book 1 of the Trials of Apollo Series) by Rick Riordan

In 2020, Marshmallow reviewed several books by Rick Riordan. First she reviewed three books from his Percy Jackson and the Olympians series: check out her reviews of The Lightning ThiefThe Sea of Monsters, and The Titan’s Curse. Then she reviewed all five books of his Heroes of Olympus series: The Lost HeroThe Son of NeptuneThe Mark of AthenaThe House of Hades, and The Blood of Olympus. She also reviewed Riordan’s books on Greek gods (Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods) and on Greek heroes (Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes). In her last review for 2020, she wanted to talk about the first book of Rick Riordan’s Trials of Apollo series, his third on Greek and Roman mythology: The Hidden Oracle. Sprinkles, who has not yet started this third series, wanted to know more and so is asking questions and taking notes for this post.

Marshmallow reviews The Hidden Oracle (Book 1 of the Trials of Apollo Series) by Rick Riordan.
Marshmallow reviews The Hidden Oracle (Book 1 of the Trials of Apollo Series) by Rick Riordan.

Sprinkles: So Marshmallow, you finally got your paws on Rick Riordan’s third series on Greek and Roman mythology. How did you like this one?

Marshmallow: Well, I have only read the first two books so far, but I think that they are really successful. The previous series were written by demigods, but this one is narrated by Apollo, the sun god. Except that he is no longer a god: he has become mortal because Zeus got mad at him for something he did in the Heroes of Olympus series and turned him into a mortal as a punishment.

S: That sounds like an interesting premise for a new story line.

M: Yes! Apparently he had been made mortal before and he knows what he is supposed to do to become a god again. He has to find a demigod who will claim him and he has to serve this demigod as they together attempt a quest.

S: So there is again a quest in this series? Or a series of quests, one per book?

M: Sort of. There is one big quest, involving oracles, but there are smaller things Apollo has to do in each of the books.

S: So you said this book is narrated by Apollo, or—what is his mortal name?

M: His name is now Lester Papadopoulos. And yes, he is narrating the story.

S: How do you like that?

M: He is a fun narrator to read. He is funny and likes to glorify himself. As the god of sun and poetry and such, Apollo is a bit full of himself. When he becomes mortal, he is still full of himself. Listen:

“The only thing I knew for certain: my punishment was unfair. Zeus needed someone to blame, so of course he’d picked the handsomest, most talented, most popular god in the pantheon: me.”

pages 2-3

S: That does sound hilarious! I thought that in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, Riordan really seemed to enjoy narrating through Percy’s perspective. And in the Heroes of Olympus series, I had the sense that he most enjoyed being Leo, even though the narration was in the third person, listening to him go on and on as Leo, I felt that he was at his best. So here we now read through Apollo / Lester’s voice, and it sounds like it is once again pretty good.

M: I think Riordan likes humorous narrators. Making them goofy and making us laugh with and at the narrator. Apollo is really fun to read. He puts haikus at the beginning of each chapter.

Marshmallow is reading The Hidden Oracle (Book 1 of the Trials of Apollo Series) by Rick Riordan. Here she is showing us how each chapter starts with a haiku.
Marshmallow is reading The Hidden Oracle (Book 1 of the Trials of Apollo Series) by Rick Riordan. Here she is showing us how each chapter starts with a haiku.

S: It sounds really like I might have to read this book Marshmallow! So tell me a bit more about this first book. This is when Apollo is coming to terms with being mortal and figuring out how to get back, right?

M: Yeah. We see him try and find a demigod to serve. And it seems like he wanted Percy Jackson to be the one but he was claimed first by a girl named Meg.

S: Ooo, so we meet a new demigod! Meg.

M: Yes. Meg is yet undetermined. We do not know her godly parent at the beginning. There are some clues already in the first few chapters, and we figure things out by the end of this first volume.

S: That is intriguing. Hmm, so Percy is still around in this book, too?

M: Yes. And later on in the other books, some of the other demigods we know from the earlier series begin to show up too.

S: So who is your favorite character in this book then?

M: There is a peach spirit, named Peaches. I think that he is my favorite character because he is really loyal. He is kind of a demon baby, but he is nice to the good people in the story. But back to Percy and Apollo and Meg. Here is a dialog Apollo has with Meg about Percy that can give you more of a sense of what Lester / Apollo is like:

“Meg,” I said, “I realize some demigods are not good. I could tell you stories of all the ones I’ve had to kill or transform into herbs–” “Herbs?” “But Percy Jackson has always been reliable. You have nothing to fear. Besides, he likes me. I taught him everything he knows.” She frowned. “You did?” I found her innocence somewhat charming. So many obvious things she did not know.

pages 24-25

S: That sounds like a book I want to read! So let us wrap this up so you can give me the book! How do you want to rate The Hidden Oracle?

M: I rate it 95% only because one has to have read the earlier books to get all the jokes and really appreciate this book. (You might also benefit from knowing some things about the Beatles…)

S: That is perfect Marshmallow! Let us now wrap up your last review of the year. Do you want to say something to our readers?

M: Yes. Happy holidays and happy new year to everyone! I will have more book reviews for you in February 2021!

Marshmallow rates The Hidden Oracle (Book 1 of the Trials of Apollo Series) by Rick Riordan 95%.
Marshmallow rates The Hidden Oracle (Book 1 of the Trials of Apollo Series) by Rick Riordan 95%.

Marshmallow reviews Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Today Marshmallow reviews a book that her school teacher introduced her to: Wonder by R.J Palacio.

Marshmallow reviews Wonder by R.J. Palacio.
Marshmallow reviews Wonder by R.J. Palacio. 

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

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): August (Auggie) Pullman was born with health issues that caused him to look very different from a lot of other kids. He had been homeschooled because he would get sick and possibly die if he went to school with other children. But now that he is stronger, his parents are now trying to get him to go to Beecher Prep, a private school. At first he is reluctant but eventually decides to go.

The principal, Mr. Tushman, introduces him to three kids who take him on a tour of the school: Julian, Jack Will (Jack is his first name, and his last name is Will, but for some reason people sometimes call him Jack Will), and Charlotte. Charlotte and Jack are nice enough, but Julian asks questions like, “what happened to your face?” and “was your face burned in a fire?” But on the bright side, August likes Jack Will and wants to be friends with him. 

When August starts school, people try not to touch him or be next to him. At lunch, nobody wants to sit with him, not even Jack Will. But then a girl named Summer comes over and sits with him, and they become friends. Jack Will and August eventually become friends, too. Then on Halloween, August comes as a Bleeding Scream, not a Boba Fett (August is completely obsessed with Star Wars) as he said he would. He sits at a different desk and he overhears Julian and two mummies (he assumes they are Miles and Henry, two of Julian’s friends) saying mean things about him. But then he recognizes one of the mummies, and it is not Henry or Miles.

Marshmallow is reading Wonder by R.J. Palacio.
Marshmallow is reading Wonder by R.J. Palacio.

Marshmallow’s Review: Wonder is a great book for bunnies of many different ages. I think that it is especially meant for bunnies of ages 8-13 but it can still be enjoyed thoroughly by bunnies younger and/or older than that. Even grownup bunnies would enjoy reading it! (I am still trying to convince Sprinkles and Caramel to read it.)

A very interesting thing about Wonder is that different people narrate its different parts. For example. the first section is narrated by August, the second by August’s sister, Via (short for Olivia who looks like other kids), the third by Summer, and the fourth by Jack Will. And then there are many more sections. It is fun to read a book written in first person from many people’s perspectives, especially since their writing style is different.

Wonder has also been made into a movie though I have not seen it yet. Here is the trailer for it if you are interested: 

The trailer for the movie Wonder.

Wonder is a great book also because the plot is well-written and well thought-out. The characters are well-developed and really realistic. R. J. Palacio has created:

“A crackling page-turner filled with characters you can’t help but root for.”

­­­­Entertainment Weekly

Marshmallow’s Rating: 100%.

Marshmallow rates Wonder by R.J. Palacio 100%.
Marshmallow rates Wonder by R.J. Palacio 100%.

Marshmallow reviews Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn

Today Marshmallow reviews the epistolary novel Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel of Letters by Mark Dunn, a book recommended to her by her school teacher.

Marshmallow reviews Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn.
Marshmallow reviews Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like books about free speech or books about fighting against suppression, or alternatively if you like playing with letters and thinking about language, then this might be the book for you. 

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): Ella Minnow Pea lives on the fictional island of Nollop, which is home to Nevin Nollop, who is the supposed creator of the famous sentence, “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog”, a sentence that contains all letters of the English alphabet. This sentence is on a memorial statue of Nevin Nollop in the island.

The people of Nollop think very highly of Mr. Nollop, so when the letters of the sentence on the memorial statue start to fall off, the Council says that it is Mr. Nollop who has spoken from beyond the grave. They claim that it is Mr. Nollop’s will that people stop using the letters that have fallen. So you can’t use words, or read books, or write words that have the letters that have fallen. Even if you use them by mistake, you are still punished. For the first offense, you are scolded publicly. For your second offense, you get lashing or stocks, the violator can choose. A third offense is punished by banishment, and if the violator refuses, death. You can see how this would make things difficult! As the story progresses, things get more and more complicated. 

Marshmallow is reading Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn.
Marshmallow is reading Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn.

Marshmallow’s Review: I think that Ella Minnow Pea is a great book for kids eight and up because it has a well-written plot and developed characters. I say eight and up, because the plot is a bit complicated, so younger bunnies might have a harder time trying to understand what is happening.

This is especially true since Ella Minnow Pea is written in letters, like the book To Night Owl From Dogfish, which I reviewed before for this blog. It is interesting to read a book written in letters, because then you can see multiple people’s views, especially if they write in different styles.

Still if little bunnies want to read Ella Minnow Pea, they can read with their parents. This way if the younger ones don’t understand something, they can ask their parents. This can also help open up some of the important themes of the book.

The main theme in Ella Minnow Pea is freedom of speech because the Council is trying to have everyone stop using the words that fell from the statue. Once they lose the letter “D” they even change the names of the days, with Sunday becoming “Satto-gatto” for example. The book is about the importance of speech and language and how important it is for these to be free. In the end it is language (and people’s determination of course!) that saves the world.

Marshmallow’s Rating: 100%.

Marshmallow rates Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn 100%.
Marshmallow rates Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn 100%.

Marshmallow reviews Akira Yoshizawa: Japan’s Greatest Origami Master

This week Marshmallow shares her thoughts on Akira Yoshizawa: Japan’s Greatest Origami Master, a beautiful book with “Texts, Original Diagrams, and Models” by Akira Yoshizawa, a preface by Kiyo Yoshizawa, and an introduction by Robert J. Lang. Accompanying her in this review is her little friend for the day: Turtle.

Marshmallow reviews Akira Yoshizawa: Japan’s Greatest Origami Master, with text, diagrams, and models by Akira Yoshizawa. Accompanying her is her little friend, Turtle.
Marshmallow reviews Akira Yoshizawa: Japan’s Greatest Origami Master, with text, diagrams, and models by Akira Yoshizawa. Accompanying her is her little friend, Turtle.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like books that teach you how to do stuff, or if you ever wanted to see really cool origami models of all sorts of animals and things, then this might be the book for you. 

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): This book does not tell a story. It teaches the reader how to make the origami pieces in the book, though the origami in this book is not easy. This is not a book for people who don’t know what origami is. 

Here is Wikipedia’s definition of origami:

“Origami (折り紙, Japanese pronunciation: [oɾiɡami] or [oɾiꜜɡami], from ori meaning “folding”, and kami meaning “paper” (kami changes to gami due to rendaku)) is the art of paper folding, which is often associated with Japanese culture. In modern usage, the word “origami” is used as an inclusive term for all folding practices, regardless of their culture of origin.”

In this book, there is a detailed introduction written by an American origami expert, Robert Lang, where readers can learn about Akira Yoshizawa and his origami work. In the next few pages of the book, there are many pictures of Mr. Yoshizawa and his incredible origami works. Then most of the rest of the book is made up of Yoshizawa’s models of different types of animals and things. For example, there are models for making origami rabbits, sea turtles, small birds, wild geese, angel fish, butterflies, flying carpets, children from Snowland, lighthouses, seesaws, planes, and all sort of other neat things. There are step-by-step instructions and folding directions for each of these.

Marshmallow is pointing to the inside cover pages of Akira Yoshizawa: Japan’s Greatest Origami Master, with text, diagrams, and models by Akira Yoshizawa.
Marshmallow is pointing to the inside cover pages of Akira Yoshizawa: Japan’s Greatest Origami Master, with text, diagrams, and models by Akira Yoshizawa.

Marshmallow’s Review:  Reading Akiro Yoshizawa’s book, you can learn how to make some pretty complex pieces of origami. If you can’t or don’t want to try to make the origami, then you can just look at the pictures, which are in color and are very impressive. Mr. Yoshizawa’s origami animals and other origami are all very realistic.

Marshmallow and Turtle are looking at the table of contents of Akira Yoshizawa: Japan’s Greatest Origami Master, with text, diagrams, and models by Akira Yoshizawa.
Marshmallow and Turtle are looking at the table of contents of Akira Yoshizawa: Japan’s Greatest Origami Master, with text, diagrams, and models by Akira Yoshizawa.

If you want to make the origami in the book you need to have origami paper, but there is a way that you can make square origami paper with normal paper. Still, real origami paper might make your origami look prettier.

Some of the pieces of origami in this book require cutting or glue or multiple pieces of paper to finish. And almost all the models are pretty hard to do. I was able to make only a few of them, mostly the simpler ones, but still I enjoyed looking through the more complex ones, too.  

Marshmallow and Turtle are looking at the directions to make a sea turtle in Akira Yoshizawa: Japan’s Greatest Origami Master, with text, diagrams, and models by Akira Yoshizawa.
Marshmallow and Turtle are looking at the directions to make a sea turtle in Akira Yoshizawa: Japan’s Greatest Origami Master, with text, diagrams, and models by Akira Yoshizawa.

I think that this is a very good book for the whole bunny family; it can be read by many types of people. Younger bunnies will enjoy looking at the pictures, and older bunnies might want to try to make some of the origami pieces.

This book might also inspire the reader to go and try to learn more about origami, either about its history, or more about how to make more. (I know Caramel enjoys making samurai hats for example!) I really enjoyed trying to make the origami in this book, even when I couldn’t make it exactly the same as it was in the book.

Marshmallow’s Rating: 100%.

Marshmallow rates Akira Yoshizawa: Japan’s Greatest Origami Master, with text, diagrams, and models by Akira Yoshizawa, 100%.
Marshmallow rates Akira Yoshizawa: Japan’s Greatest Origami Master, with text, diagrams, and models by Akira Yoshizawa, 100%.