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%.

Marshmallow reviews Save Me A Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan

Today Marshmallow chose to review Save Me A Seat, a 2016 novel by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan.

Marshmallow reviews Save Me A Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan.
Marshmallow reviews Save Me A Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan.

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): Joey’s friends move away at the same time that a new kid moves into town. The new kid Ravi has just moved to America from India. Joey hopes that the school bully Dillon (who calls Joey Puddy Tat and whom Joey suspects to be a kleptomaniac) will pick on the new kid. However, Dillon is also of Indian heritage, so Ravi wants to be friends with him.

Ravi does not know that Dillon is a bully. After Ravi answers a math problem on the board, Dillon trips Ravi, but pegs it on Joey. Also, when Ravi’s school materials fall to the ground, Joey and Ravi hit their heads when trying to pick them up. Joey considers befriending Ravi, but Ravi thinks that Joey has it in for him, and believes that Dillon is his friend. 

Ravi has an accent so his teacher, Mrs. Beam, thinks that he should go visit a special education teacher named Miss Frost. Joey has also been seeing Miss Frost, as he has Auditory Processing Disorder (APD). Ravi is angry that he is being sent to Miss Frost. He was top of his class in his previous school, and he has an IQ of 135, according to him. He believes that he is “not like” Joey. 

However, Ravi soon learns that Dillon is a bully when Dillon tricks him into trying meat, even though Ravi is a vegetarian. Dillon starts calling Ravi “Curryhead”. When this starts happening, Ravi realizes that at his school in India, he was like Dillon. He had bullied a student who had issues with reading. Ravi realizes that he is getting a taste of his own medicine.

Marshmallow is reading Save Me A Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan.
Marshmallow is reading Save Me A Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan.

Marshmallow’s Review: I think that an interesting feature of Save Me A Seat is that it is written in the perspective of two people. The chapters alternate between Ravi’s perspective and Joey’s. I believe that Sarah Weeks wrote the chapters for Joey, and Gita Varadarajan wrote the chapters for Ravi. This is similar to another book that I read, To Night Owl From Dogfish, where one author wrote the emails for one character, and the other author wrote the emails for the other. 

I think that the author for Ravi made an interesting choice. In Ravi’s chapter, the author tends to write lists like: 

“I want to say:
1. My English is fine.
2. I don’t need Miss Frost.
3. I was top of my class at Vidya Mandir.
But here is what I do instead:
1. Push up my glasses.
2. Rub my nose.
3. Sit down and fold my hands.”

(Vidya Mandir was his school in India.) It is interesting to see the events from the perspectives of both characters. For example, when Dillon trips Ravi, both Joey and Ravi retell the event differently.

Another interesting feature of the book is that all events take place in the course of one school week. The authors split the book into sections, one for every school day in the first week of school. The section titles tell the reader the day of the week and the school lunch that day (like Wednesday, Chili and Friday, Pizza). It gets you in the mood for school!

Marshmallow’s Rating: 95%.

Marshmallow rates Save Me A Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan 95%.
Marshmallow rates Save Me A Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan 95%.

Marshmallow reviews The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Today Marshmallow reviews a classic: The Hobbit: or There and Back Again, by J.R.R. Tolkien, first published in 1937.

Marshmallow reviews The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.
Marshmallow reviews The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like fantasy, magic, or quests that take place in a fantastic alternative world, then this might be the book for you.

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): Bilbo Baggins is a respectable hobbit who never goes on any adventures, until now. One day, an elderly traveler comes to Bilbo’s hobbit hole, and says that he is looking for someone to share an adventure with. Bilbo thinks lowly of adventures, saying that they are “Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!”

Bilbo at the time does not know that this man is Gandalf, who is a family friend, so he says that he doesn’t want any adventures, trying to imply that their conversation is at an end. Gandalf says that he won’t leave, and so Bilbo asks him his name. When Bilbo learns that he is Gandalf, he invites him to tea. Then he rushes in to his home, and closes his door. Gandalf scratches a sign on Bilbo’s door, and leaves.

The next day, a little before tea time, someone rings the door bell. Bilbo, thinking it is Gandalf, opens the door and finds a dwarf. The dwarf says his name is Dwalin. Soon more dwarves start arriving, until there is a total of thirteen dwarves. Their leader is Thorin Oakenshield, the heir of the King Under the Mountain. The dwarves are on a quest to reclaim their mountain home of Erebor. Of course, now we know that this is the quest Gandalf was talking about

Erebor was the most successful dwarf kingdom. The dwarves of Erebor mined many treasures, which is where their wealth was from. The human city next to it was prosperous and rich, as well.. Unfortunately, Erebor’s wealth attracted the attention of a dragon, Smaug, who took over Erebor and killed almost all of the dwarves (and destroyed the human city nearby, too). Now Thorin and his company are trying to take back their home. And they want Bilbo to be their burglar, though in the beginning it is not obvious why they require a burglar.

Bilbo finds the idea of himself joining the quest as a hired burglar distasteful but eventually agrees. So the company of fourteen (Bilbo and the thirteen dwarves together) sets out to defeat Smaug and reclaim Erebor.

Marshmallow is reading The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.
Marshmallow is reading The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Marshmallow’s Review: I think that this is a great book! It is not only a classic but really is in its own world. In this world of Middle Earth, there are different races of creatures: dwarves, elves, Hobbits, and humans (as well as wizards and orcs and goblins, too). J.R.R. Tolkien came up with songs and whole language systems for this book, which is really impressive. The characters’ names also make the book a lot more realistic, as they are not typical names; each name fits the particular race of its character.

Tolkien writes with long sentences and gives a lot of descriptions, but I found the story interesting enough to read the whole book easily. The plot of The Hobbit is very well written and the characters are all very interesting. It is unusual to read about a character like Bilbo, who is not necessarily the typical hero. Early on, Bilbo has a nervous breakdown, or panic attack, when the dwarves tell him there is a chance of him dying in this quest. So Bilbo seems to be nothing like a hero going on a quest: he is scared, he is not given to action and adventure, and he prefers to simply have his tea in a calm and relaxed manner. But he takes on this quest and we see him being brave and most honorable in his own way through the voyage.

I watched the 2012-2014 Hobbit movie series before I read the book, and I think that the book goes very well with the movies even though there are some differences between the two.

The trailer of the 2012 movie: An Unexpected Journey.

You can definitely watch the movies first and then read the book (like I did), or vice versa.

The trailer of the 2013 movie: The Desolation of Smaug.

The original is the one book, but Peter Jackson, the director of the movies, wanted to make the Hobbit story into a trilogy.

The trailer of the 2014 movie: The Battle of the Five Armies.

As you can probably already tell from the trailers, the movies can get scary at times and there are some violent scenes, so younger bunnies should definitely not watch them unsupervised. Caramel and I often covered our eyes when we were watching those types of scenes. They are really good movies for sure, but it might be a good idea for adult bunnies to watch them before showing them to a younger bunny.

Marshmallow’s Rating: 97%.

Marshmallow rates The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien 97%.
Marshmallow rates The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien 97%.

Marshmallow reviews Thornwood by Leah Cypess

Marshmallow has reviewed several books inspired by fairy tales before. See, for example, her reviews of A Tale Dark and GrimTuck EverlastingElla Enchanted, and Half Upon A Time. She has also enjoyed the whole School for Good and Evil series, which also explores fairy tales and their characters in depth. Today she writes about Thornwood by Leah Cypess, a book inspired by the story of Sleeping Beauty.

Marshmallow reviews Thornwood by Leah Cypess.
Marshmallow reviews Thornwood by Leah Cypess.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like books that retell classic fairy tales, or if you enjoy reading books about sisters, then this might be the book for you.

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): Briony’s sister Rosalin was cursed when she was a baby. The evil fairy queen said that when she turned sixteen, she would prick her finger on a spinning wheel and die. Luckily, Rosalin’s fairy godmother changed the curse slightly, so instead of dying, she would sleep for a hundred years, along with everyone else in the castle.

For her entire life, Briony has been the less important princess. Briony is always only an accessory to Rosalin’s story, or only an annoyance. Everyone pays more attention to Rosalin. Even so, Briony really likes her sister, and Rosalin likes her back, though as an older sibling, she is often dismissive of her.

On her sixteenth birthday, Rosalin pricks her finger on the spinning wheel. And she falls asleep, along with everyone else in the castle.

Marshmallow is reading Thornwood by Leah Cypess.
Marshmallow is reading Thornwood by Leah Cypess.

Years later, Briony wakes up and goes to Rosalin’s room. On the way there, she discovers that there are thorn branches that move which have grown around the castle. Briony comes to Rosalin’s room in time to see the prince wake her up. Rosalin is happy to see the prince, but when she sees Briony, she seems terrified for a moment and she quickly returns to a normal expression.

When Briony meets the prince, Prince Varian, she is suspicious of him because his story is a little fishy. He says that he cut through the thorn branches with a magical sword. He claims that he no longer has the sword because the thorn branches wrested it from him. He claims to have fought through the remaining thorns with his hands. Briony finds it suspicious that he has scratches on his hands but none on his face. And it turns out that Varian is not who he says he is, and it remains to be seen whether he can get them out of the Thornwood, or whether they will be stuck there forever. 

Marshmallow’s Review: The plot of Thornwood is well thought out, well-written, and full of twists and turns. I was very surprised by one of the big reveals.

I really like how the story is based off of a fairy tale that many people know, but the plot sort of changes from the original tale. It also introduces Briony, the sister whom we do not know about from the usual telling of the story of Sleeping Beauty, and things get a lot more complicated than expected.

I think that the characters are realistic. They have realistic and relatable personalities, and they all have their habits and their flaws. 

This is the first book of a new series Sisters Ever After, where the author Leah Cypess reimagines several different fairy tales. Thornwood is a reimagining of Sleeping Beauty. I am curious about the next book, which is apparently about Cinderella. If I do, I will definitely write about it.

Marshmallow’s Rating: 95%.

Marshmallow rates Thornwood by Leah Cypess 95%.
Marshmallow rates Thornwood by Leah Cypess 95%.