Marshmallow reviews Sisters by Raina Telgemeier

Last week Marshmallow reviewed Smile by Raina Telgemeier. This week she continues her Telgemeier streak with the next graphic novel by this prolific author: Sisters. Sprinkles is taking notes and asking questions.

Marshmallow reviews Sisters by Raina Telgemeier.
Marshmallow reviews Sisters by Raina Telgemeier.

Sprinkles: So Marshmallow you have been reading graphic novels by Raina Telgemeier for a while now. And finally you got to Sisters.

Marshmallow: Yes.

S: The cover says this book accompanies Smile. I seem to remember that you wrote that that book was quite self-contained. How is this related to it?

M: They are related by the fact that both are about the same characters. The main character is the author herself, once again. But the main story line of this book is different. And it is a different time in her life. Instead of the school year, this is about summer time, about a summer when the author and her family took a road trip from California to Colorado to visit relatives.

S: I see. What is the main challenge this time?

M: The author and her sister are arguing too much. They are not in good terms. And there is a snake in their truck. And there are some problems between their parents.

S: I see. Seeing how the title mentions the sisters, I am assuming the book is mainly focusing on them getting their relationship in order?

M: Yes mostly.

S: So did you enjoy reading this book?

M: Yes. I always like Telgemeier’s drawings. She has a unique style. The faces of the characters are always very expressive. I like the color palate too. There is someone else who adds the coloring I think, Braden Lamb. I think the color choices add to the specific moods in each panel.

Marshmallow is reading Sisters by Raina Telgemeier.
Marshmallow is reading Sisters by Raina Telgemeier.

S: Did you find this book helped you think about your relationship with Caramel a bit?

M: No, not really. Caramel is my brother, and we don’t fight that much.

S: Really? So these two sister fight more than you two? Hmm, that is some serious discord in the family then. Okay, so what else do you want to tell our readers about this book?

M: If you do have a sibling, this book might be helpful to you to think about your relationship with them, and see if you can be a better sibling yourself. So actually, maybe the book did make me think a bit about Caramel and me. I am thinking of how I can be a better big sister to him.

S: That is nice Marshmallow. I think you are a good big sister. And Caramel is a good young brother. So is the author the older sister or the younger?

M: She is the older one, like me.

S: I see.

M: But she is not totally like me. She is detached from her family at the beginning of the road trip. But through the book she starts feeling closer to them.

S: That is nice.

M: Yeah, I thought the book was pretty good. On thing I was not too keen on was that one of the story threads about the parents and their problems was not completely resolved. I wanted some more closure.

S: Well, you said this is a book about the author’s own life. Sometimes in real life, we don’t get closure, especially on big issues.

M: Yeah, I guess I wanted that part to be more like a book than real life.

S: I can see that. So the book was at times too much like real life! Anyways, it seems like this was all around a very good book. How would you rate it Marshmallow?

M: I’d rate it 95%.

S: Cool. And what do you want to tell our readers as we wrap up this review?

M: Stay tuned for more amazing book reviews from the book bunnies!

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

Marshmallow reviews Smile by Raina Telgemeier

Marshmallow has reviewed three books by Raina Telgemeier before: Ghost (2006), the graphic novel version of Ann N. Martin’s Kristy’s Great Idea (The Baby-Sitters Club Graphic Novels #1) (2006), and Drama (2012). For her first review after her summer break she chose to write about a fourth Telgemeier book: Smile (2010).

Marshmallow reviews Smile by Raina Telgemeier.
Marshmallow reviews Smile by Raina Telgemeier.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like books about friends, friendship, and school, or if you enjoyed any of Raina Telgemeier’s other graphic novels, then this might be the book for you. 

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): When Raina Telgemeier fell after her Girl Scouts meeting, her front teeth fell too. Unfortunately, they were her adult teeth and they weren’t going to grow back. This leads to a long process that continues for years. Her teeth must be fixed through braces, headgear (only during the night), and more. Raina is extremely self conscious of her image at school, and fears that her braces will make her look like a “dork” or a “nerd”; her friend group doesn’t help at all. In fact, several of her friends tell her that, “cool just isn’t the word to describe you.” In addition to all this, Raina has, what the book cover calls, “boy confusion”. ’nuff said.

Raina feels overwhelmed by middle school, and eventually high school. She is frustrated by the teeth issue, and struggling to find out what real, true friendship really is. I can’t spoil too much, but I can say that by the end, Raina can finally smile. 

Marshmallow is reading Smile by Raina Telgemeier.
Marshmallow is reading Smile by Raina Telgemeier.

Marshmallow’s Review: I thought that this was a very interesting insight into the author’s childhood, and her experiences with middle and high school. This book is about the author, Raina Telgemeier, herself, and spans several years of her teenage experience. 

Though I couldn’t associate myself with all of the feelings the main character had, I can still sympathize with her problems, because the character is shown in such a real way. She is almost like a real person. (Oh, wait, she is.)

This is a graphic novel, and one of a series. However, despite the fact that there are two other books, this can definitely be read as a stand-alone book. But it doesn’t take too long to read, so you can probably read the books all at once and it makes a nice story all together. (I might even review the other books for the blog some day.) However, as I said, this could be a stand-alone, because the story ends at a satisfactory point. (Furthermore, the story arcs of the other two books are all different and the plots are all unconnected. I would of course say more if I do end up reviewing them, too.)

All in all, Smile is a good book that can be enjoyed by all. But I would say that probably a middle school / middle grades reader would find it more exciting than younger or older bunnies.  

Marshmallow’s Rating: 95%.

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

Marshmallow reviews Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales by Soman Chainani

Marshmallow has reviewed several books by Soman Chainani already. Most recently she reviewed Rise of the School for Good and Evil and School for Good and Evil. Today, for her last review of this school year before the bunnies take off for the month of July, she decided to talk about Chainani’s Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales.

Marshmallow reviews Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales by Soman Chainani.
Marshmallow reviews Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales by Soman Chainani.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like books about/with magic, monsters, and strong female characters, then this might be the book for you.

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): Twelve tales that we thought we knew have been reinvented (Red Riding Hood, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk, Hansel and Gretel, Beauty and the Beast, Bluebeard, Cinderella, the Little Mermaid, Rumpelstiltskin, and Peter Pan). I would summarize all of them but instead I’ll just go over my favorites. 

Red Riding Hood: Every year the most beautiful girl in the town is eaten by wolves. The villagers surrender the girl, sending her into the woods, down a road alone, until she meets her fate. Our heroine, who isn’t ever named, was chosen by the wolves. She wears a red cape as she walks into the forest, intent on being the first to survive. 

Snow White: A queen asks a mirror for its opinion on the fairest of all. The queen is satisfied by its answer, until it starts to name the queen’s stepdaughter. The queen’s stepdaughter has crow-black skin, blood-red lips, and eyes with whites as bright as snow. The queen doesn’t believe people like that can be fair and orders a huntsman to kill her. But Snow White is harder to kill than expected.  

Beauty and the Beast: A book-loving girl dotes on her rich father. Everyone believes this to be virtue, but in truth, she has plans for her life, bigger than just being a maid/cook/servant. When her father loses his money, and rides out to try to get it back, he is forced to promise to send his daughter to a Beast. The Beast wants love, but the girl has no intentions of befriending the Beast; she wants to kill him. 

The Little Mermaid: A beautiful mermaid is in love with a human. She will do anything for him, despite the fact that they’ve never talked before. In fact, she only saw him once when she saved him from drowning. She wants a sea witch to turn her into a human, so she can be with him, but it turns out that stories always have two sides, and the side you’re on makes the biggest difference.

Marshmallow is reading Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales by Soman Chainani.
Marshmallow is reading Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales by Soman Chainani.

Marshmallow’s Review: I found Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales a really good book to read, given certain events going on in human politics. Like in his School for Good and Evil series, Soman Chainani takes fairy tales that we all know and digs deeper. Not only does he change certain thing like places, ethnicities, genders, etc., but he adds an extra layer of meaning. Some of the stories take place in non-descript villages and kingdoms. The time period is that of your average fairy tale. But there is a lot that is different.

For example, Cinderella becomes more than a girl wanting to go to a ball; her story, Cinderella, shows different people struggling to find their happy ending only to find that it wasn’t all it was cooked up to be. Hansel and Gretel isn’t just about two children killing a witch: Hansel and Gretel discover that the witch they’re supposed to kill isn’t the one in the candied house. All the twists are unexpected and fresh, and all together make for really good reading.

That said, some of these tales can be a bit disturbing to younger bunnies—I found the retelling of the Sleeping Beauty story a little scary for example—so I would definitely say that Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales is more for 14-15 and above. Certain stories, mostly Sleeping Beauty and Bluebeard, could be confusing or even disturbing to younger children. In fact, I didn’t quite understand the full meaning of the two fore-mentioned stories the first time I read them. I would say that this would be a good book for both older children and parents to read and then discuss about, especially with the messages in the book. 

Marshmallow’s Rating: 95%. 

Marshmallow rates Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales by Soman Chainani 95%.
Marshmallow rates Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales by Soman Chainani 95%.

Marshmallow reviews The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

Marshmallow loved Soman Chainani’s School for Good and Evil series, and reviewed three of the six books for the book bunnies blog, way back in our first year: Quests for Glory, the fourth book, A Crystal of Time, the fifth book, and One True King, the sixth book. Then a couple weeks ago, she got her paws on a prequel Chainani wrote this year, Rise of the School for Good and Evil, and reviewed it for the blog. After reading it, she decided to reread the very first book, School for Good and Evil, to see how it would hold up. She was not disappointed.

Marshmallow reviews The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani.
Marshmallow reviews The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani.

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

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): Sophie has waited all her life to be kidnapped by the School Master and be whisked away from her boring, plain life. Sophie lives in the quaint town of Gavaldon, where nothing is magical. Perhaps the only out-of-the-ordinary thing in Gavaldon is the kidnappings. Every four years, two children are kidnapped. One child is beautiful and virtuous; the other, cruel and ugly.

For hundreds of years, no one knew what happened to them, until the children realized something strange. The kids who were taken seemed to find their way into the storybooks. They just showed up years later in the fairy tales, but as fierce witches, beautiful princesses, brave princes, or violent villains.

We learn, as events unfold for the main characters of the book, that these children go to a school, specifically the School for Good and Evil. The kidnapper is the School Master. Villains, witches, warlords, and other Evil creatures are trained at the School for Evil, while princes, princesses, and other Good people are trained at the School for Good.

So in this backdrop, Sophie knows that one day she will be taken to the School for Good. She makes sure to do Good Deeds to show the School Master how good she is and why she should be taken to the School for Good. Sophie knows she will be the perfect princess. On the other hand, everyone in Gavaldon knows that Agatha will be taken as the Evil child. Agatha lives in a house in the middle of a graveyard, with her mother (whom everyone believes to be a witch), wears only black, and dislikes almost everyone.

Almost everyone. Sophie visits Agatha (as a Good Deed) every day, until the two become friends. Agatha slowly becomes more than just a pawn used to ensure Sophie’s place in the School for Good. While Sophie wishes for grandeur and eternal adoration, Agatha just wants one person who likes her, one person who could care about her “measly soul”.

Then the girls are both kidnapped, and Sophie’s dreams are realized… until she is dropped into the School for Evil, while Agatha is placed in the School for Good. Sophie struggles to get herself into the School for Good, while Agatha struggles to try to get them back to Gavaldon.

Eventually, the School Master tells them that if Sophie proves that she is not a witch, and if Agatha proves that she is not a princess, they can go home. He asks them: what is the one thing that a witch can never have, and a princess cannot live without? The answer: Love. If Sophie can find love, and Agatha can’t, they can go home. Given who they are, their roles seem easy to play.

Only one complication stands in their way: Sophie doesn’t want to go home; she doesn’t want to at all. 

Marshmallow is reading The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani.
Marshmallow is reading The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani.

Marshmallow’s Review: The first thing I should say is that I have read and reread this book so many times, my original copy of the book totally fell apart. For this review, I ended up getting a new copy so I could take pictures with it.

One of the reasons why I like this book so much and find it so interesting that School for Good and Evil isn’t just a different retelling of the familiar fairytales, but a whole new one. I think that this tale does fit into the world of other fairytales, and I really enjoyed reading about the world that Soman Chainani created.

School for Good and Evil, as probably everyone who has heard of it knows, is the first of a series of six. It is more or less self-contained, you could technically stop at the end and be done with it, but why would you? Chainani’s world is fascinating, and the stories get even better as you go deeper into the series.

The series is fantastical, magic, witches, fairytales, all are quite extraordinary. That said, the characters are very realistic. And some of them are very annoying (coughSophie,cough). I really enjoyed the way the characters developed throughout the series however. And I really liked how all of the characters had very big flaws in addition to their strengths. It was interesting to see that even fairy tale heroes have problems.  

Rereading the book after having just finished Rise of the School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani, all I can say is that if you just read the Rise and are about to embark upon the rest of the series, you are in for an amazing ride. The prequel does not spoil the fun of this first book, though of course it does spoil a little bit of the surprise. It is not a big deal however, either case, you learn about the School, one way or another, and the story works either way.

I am excited that Netflix is developing a series version of the books! Here is the trailer / teaser:

I for one am looking forward to it!

Marshmallow’s Rating: 98%.

Marshmallow rates The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani 98%.
Marshmallow rates The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani 98%.