Caramel reviews Five on a Treasure Island by Enid Blyton

This past month, Sprinkles was excited to introduce Caramel to one of her favorite series from her childhood, the Famous Five, the classic children’s adventure book series written by the prolific British author Enid Blyton about four children and their dog Timothy. Today, Caramel shares his thoughts on Five on a Treasure Island, the first book about these five characters, published first in 1942, exactly eighty years ago. The book bunnies read the beautiful color edition from 2015 with illustrations by Babette Cole and Quentin Blake.

Caramel reviews Five on a Treasure Island, written by Enid Blyton and illustrated by Babette Cole and Quentin Blake.
Caramel reviews Five on a Treasure Island, written by Enid Blyton and illustrated by Babette Cole and Quentin Blake.

Sprinkles: So Caramel, I was so happy to read this book together with you!

Caramel: Yes. We read a chapter a night, more or less, and it was sometimes not easy to wait the whole day for the next chapter.

S: I know, right? Some of the events get you nervous and make you want to know what will happen next, and quickly.

C: I thought you had read this book before Sprinkles? Didn’t you remember what would happen?

S: Well, yes, I did read it, but many many years ago, and I knew of course that the kids would come out of their adventures safe and sound, but I did not remember at all how that would come to be.

C: Especially when they got locked up in the dungeon —

S: Wait! Let us not give away too many details. But maybe it would be a good idea to start from the beginning with the plot of the book so our readers can get a good idea abut what it is all about.

C: Okay. So there are three kids, Julian, Dick, and Anne, and they are siblings. They go visit their cousin George. Actually she is named Georgina, but she wants to be called George.

S: I see. This reminds me that a couple years ago, Marshmallow reviewed a book titled George, about a transgender child and her struggle to be accepted as who she is. People called her George but she wanted to be called Melissa. And it is important to call people by the name they would prefer, right?

C: Obviously. It is only the kind thing to do. And if you don’t they will be upset.

S: So yes, let us call the fourth character in our book George. But the book title promises us five characters. Who is the fifth one?

C: Tim, who is a dog. He is George’s dog, pretty much, though her family does not want her to keep Tim, so she has another boy take care of him most of the time.

S: Okay, these five remind me of Scooby Doo and the five characters there. Did you know that some folks think that people who created Scooby Doo were inspired by the Famous Five?

C: I had not thought about that! But that is kind of neat! I like Scooby Doo! So this is really interesting. I can even see some resemblances…

S: Hmm, we can speculate, of course. But let us get back to the book. Alright, so we now know who the famous five are. What is the treasure island about? Tell us more about the story.

C: George does not seem too nice at the beginning, but eventually, they become close. The three siblings learn about the nearby Kirrin Island, George says it is hers, and then the kids think that there may be some treasure hidden somewhere on the island. They figure out that there are supposed to be many “ingots of gold” there, according to a very old map.

S: And so the four kids and Tim the dog go and try to find the treasure, right?

C: Yes. And of course they get into trouble. There is someone who wants to buy the island and get the treasure for himself.

S: Yes, so there is some tension about this guy, who does not seem to be an exceptionally nice person.

C: Yes, he locks them up in the dungeon of the dilapidated castle.

S: Wow Caramel, that is a big word! But you are also giving away some of the major plot twists! So maybe it is time to stop talking about the plot.

C: Okay.

Caramel is reading Five on a Treasure Island, written by Enid Blyton and illustrated by Babette Cole and Quentin Blake.
Caramel is reading Five on a Treasure Island, written by Enid Blyton and illustrated by Babette Cole and Quentin Blake.

S: How about talking about the main themes of the book next? Do you remember what is a theme in a book?

C: It is a main idea, or it can be a moral of the story sometimes.

S: Yes, that is right, Caramel. So what ideas or themes do you think would be the main themes of Five on a Treasure Island?

C: I think friendship is one. George is not used to having friends, she is used to being alone, on her own all the time. But then she becomes good friends with the three kids, and she realizes how much better life is with friends.

S: Right! You would agree, right?

C: Yes, of course. Life is much better with friends!

S: Okay, other than friendship, can you think of another theme?

C: Maybe cooperation and team work? Because the children solve the mystery together and then save one another.

S: I think that makes sense! Those are two good themes for this book. Hmm, let me ask you a couple other questions before we wrap things up, Caramel. First of all, I told you this is a pretty old book. It might be the oldest book you have read before now.

C: Not quite. I read The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper and that was from 1930. But you are right, this is one of the older books I have read.

S: You are right, that book was older. But this one is pretty old too. And I wanted to ask you if you could tell. Did you think the book aged well? Or did you think it was very dated?

C: Well, I think the boy name Dick is not as common these days. And the kids sometimes use words strangely. For example Dick says “Rather!” and “Blow!” when he is excited and they say George’s mom is a “brick” and they mean she is awesome! So those were some interesting words, and made me think the book is from a different time. Or different place. Because different versions of English seem to have different idioms and slang words.

S: That’s right Caramel, that is a very good observation. Those words were unfamiliar in those uses for me too. But perhaps they used to be more common in 1940s in Britain. They did feel strange to us in the 2020s of course!

C: Right. And Anne was a bit too much of a crybaby, and seemed like what girls were supposed to be like and so George did not want to be a girl like that. She wanted to run and swim and do all the things that were supposed to be boy things. But today boys and girls can do all sorts of things. So that is also a bit different.

S: I agree Caramel. Those are good observations. Would you say that the book was fun to read though?

C: Yes, it was a lot of fun to read. And I think even younger bunnies, much younger than myself, could enjoy it if their grownups read it to them.

S: Again, I agree Caramel. And I am so happy you read this book and enjoyed it. Okay, one last question: What did you think about the illustrations? This was a special color illustration edition. And the illustrators are pretty established in their craft. Did you find them engaging?

C: Yes. They were very colorful. And there is one picture where they had a lot of bunnies watching the kids. That is my favorite. It is drawn almost from the bunnies’ point of view.

S: So it is perfect for us book bunnies.

C: Yep. That is why I posed for my photo above with that page open.

S: I love that Caramel! Okay, time to wrap this up then. What will you tell our readers now?

C: Stay tuned for more book bunny adventures!

Caramel enjoyed reading Five on a Treasure Island, written by Enid Blyton and illustrated by Babette Cole and Quentin Blake, and is curious to learn more about the five friends and their other adventures.
Caramel enjoyed reading Five on a Treasure Island, written by Enid Blyton and illustrated by Babette Cole and Quentin Blake, and is curious to learn more about the five friends and their other adventures.

Marshmallow reviews The Final Gambit by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Marshmallow has already reviewed the first two books of the Inheritance Games trilogy of Jennifer Lynn Barnes. Today she reviews The Final Gambit, the third and final book of the series that was just published at the end of this August.

You might like to check out Marshmallow’s reviews of The Inheritance Games (2020), the first book, and The Hawthorne Legacy (2021), the second book, before you move on with this review.

Marshmallow reviews The Final Gambit by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.
Marshmallow reviews The Final Gambit by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like books about mystery, family secrets and / or romance, then this might be the book for you. 

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): Around a year ago, Avery Kylie Grambs was left billions of dollars in the will of a very wealthy man named Tobias Hawthorne. Tobias Hawthorne was very fond of riddles, puzzles, games, and pretty much everything that requires investigation and deep thought. Even after he died, this did not change. Post-mortem, Tobias has been vexing Avery and her friends in a series of mysteries and puzzles he left Avery and his family.

Mr. Hawthorne had two daughters and four grandsons (all from his youngest daughter who planned to have the inheritance go to her children). In previous books, it was discovered that Tobias wished Avery and his grandsons to find and bring his supposedly dead son (Toby) back to the Hawthorne family. However, this was complicated significantly by the fact that Avery still did not know why she was chosen to inherit this fortune. Additionally, an invisible enemy seemed to be attacking her from everywhere and also has captured Toby.

In The Hawthorne Legacy, the second book of this trilogy, Avery believed that Toby was her father. However, in the end of that book, we learned that she is not. We also learned that he nonetheless did have a daughter named Eve. In The Final Gambit, we meet Eve. And Avery meeting Eve causes the start of a brand new puzzle set up by Tobias Hawthorne. This time, the stakes are higher. This will be the final countdown and we will finally see whether or not Avery can finalize the transaction of inheritance.

Marshmallow is reading The Final Gambit by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.
Marshmallow is reading The Final Gambit by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.

Marshmallow’s Review: The Final Gambit is a fascinating read! And I was very glad that I finally learned why Avery was chosen. (No spoilers!) The book is well written and the mystery is resolved satisfactorily, but you do have to wait till the end.

Overall, the three books make a great trilogy. I do think you would need the first two books to make any sense of this third one. But the books are quite easy to read quickly, because all chapters are very short and the twists and turns the mystery takes make you want to keep reading on.

On a different note, this is definitely written for young adults. There is a lot of romance, and this third book gets a lot more mature in terms of a lot of kissing / making out, and the occurrence of some sexual acts may or may not have been hinted at. I would recommend this book for bunnies 14 and up, and if a bunny is younger than that, then that said bunny’s parents might want to read the book first and decide if it is for them.

Marshmallow’s Rating: 95%.

Marshmallow rates The Final Gambit by Jennifer Lynn Barnes 95%.
Marshmallow rates The Final Gambit by Jennifer Lynn Barnes 95%.

Marshmallow reviews The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Almost a year ago, Marshmallow reviewed The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, the first of a mystery trilogy about a high school student, Avery Kylie Grambs, who inherits a large sum of money unexpectedly and has to deal with the consequences. This week, Marshmallow has finally read the second book, The Hawthorne Legacy (2021), and shares her thoughts on it here, before diving into the third and final book of the series, which was just published at the end of this past August.

Marshmallow reviews The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.
Marshmallow reviews The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like books about mystery, family secrets, and / or romance, then this might be the book for you. 

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): Avery Kylie Grambs used to live in her car, but after one of the richest men in America (Tobias Hawthorne) left her his fortune, she is now practically America’s richest teenager. However, she legally doesn’t receive the fortune until she lives in the Hawthorne Mansion for a year. Unfortunately, several people would be very happy if she didn’t get the fortune or “expired” before the year ended.

The main question is why Tobias Hawthorne left his fortune to Avery who seems to be completely unrelated to him, when he has two daughters and four grandsons, to whom he left very little. At the end of the first book, The Inheritance Games, Avery had found enough clues to believe that Tobias’ son Toby, who supposedly died in a fire, is still alive and that she had to find him. In this book however, we learn, along with Avery, that the truth is a lot more complicated. To find out why she was left the money, Avery needs to find out who Toby was, what he did, and where he is now. And to do this, she must first learn who she really is. 

Marshmallow is reading The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.
Marshmallow is reading The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.

Marshmallow’s Review: I found this to be a fascinating book. I really wanted to find out why the money was left to Avery, but apparently we will all need to wait until the next book, The Last Gambit, to find out. Still The Hawthorne Legacy was a fun and exciting read, and I enjoyed it a lot. I really liked all of the twists and turns in the plot. This is one of the best mysteries I’ve read, and I still have no idea why the fortune was left to Avery. I look forward to reading the next book of the series. 

The main character Avery, like many young adult novel characters, struggles with her love life and feelings, which causes issues for her. Relatedly, I felt that The Hawthorne Legacy had much more adult details than the first book in the series. This book, like the School for Good and Evil series, is written for older (teen?) audiences. I would say that this is probably best for 14 and up. And I would suggest that parents of younger bunnies might want to read it first to gauge whether they think the book is suitable for them.

Marshmallow’s Rating: 95%. 

Marshmallow rates The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes 95%.
Marshmallow rates The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes 95%.

Caramel reviews The Menagerie: Kraken and Lies by Tui Sutherland and Kari Sutherland

Caramel is a big fan of Tui Sutherland’s Wings of Fire series. After some cajoling, a couple weeks ago, he finally dove into Sutherland’s Menagerie series, cowritten with Kari Sutherland. And he has already read and reviewed the first book (The Menagerie) and the second book (Dragon on Trial). Today he wraps up the series with a review of the third book: Kraken and Lies. As usual, Sprinkles is taking notes and asking followup questions.

Caramel reviews The Menagerie: Kraken and Lies by Tui Sutherland and Kari Sutherland.
Caramel reviews The Menagerie: Kraken and Lies by Tui Sutherland and Kari Sutherland.

Sprinkles: So this was book three of the Menagerie series. What did you think?

Caramel: It’s a good book!

S: I thought so too. Actually I liked this third book the most.

C: I didn’t. I think they were all good.

S: Yes, I do, too, but I kind of liked this one most because I thought it was so rich, and the authors tied up all the loose ends really well.

C: I agree. They did tie up a lot of loose ends. We even learned how and why the dragon was framed in Dragon on Trial.

S: You are very close to giving away a little too much Caramel. But yes, the unresolved issues from the earlier books all got cleared away in this one. But it was not only about resolving old issues, was it?

C: No, you are right. There is of course a new problem, a big one. Zoe’s ex-best-friend Jasmine’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Sterling, apparently know about the Menagerie and are scheming some evil plot to expose and exploit it.

S: Yes, that is a big existential threat for the Menagerie, right? Nobody is supposed to know about it, and the Sterlings were supposed to have drunk kraken ink and forgotten all they had seen and learned about the Menagerie.

C: Well, Mr. and Mrs. Sterling were supposed to not know about the Menagerie. But apparently Jonathan, Jasmine’s brother, dated Zoe’s sister Ruby, and Ruby told him about it. And then Jonathan tried to steal a jackalope. And a jackalope is kind of like a jackrabbit, but it is not a regular one. Its body looks like a rabbit but it has antlers! But also they are magical creatures, and their milk can cure any illness. And they can imitate human voice and fool humans!

S: Yes, they are cool! But back to Jonathan and Ruby.

C: Oh yes. So they have to break up and Jonathan has to drink the kraken ink to forget everything about her and the Menagerie, but the family all has to drink the kraken ink so they can all forget about Ruby as well. So it is very strange that they now know about the Menagerie. And they are only interested in money so they will want to exploit it. And in the middle of all this, Logan’s mom is still missing and the Sterlings seem to have something to do with it…

Caramel is reading The Menagerie: Kraken and Lies by Tui Sutherland and Kari Sutherland.
Caramel is reading The Menagerie: Kraken and Lies by Tui Sutherland and Kari Sutherland.

S: Yes, that is correct. I think you described the central conflicts and plot problems of this book well, Caramel. So tell me, were there any new mythical creatures other than the jackalope that showed up?

C: There is Sapphire, a relative of Blue. She is a merperson.

S: Yes we saw merpeople before, though, no?

C: Well, here we see them a lot better because they go on a strike.

S: That is true; that part was very interesting.

C: And then we get to see the kraken a lot more up close.

S: That is true too.

C: And there is a Chinese dragon!

S: Yes! And the Chinese dragon has a pearl, a special pearl that holds its magic powers.

C: Yeah, that is true.

S: Did you know that Marshmallow has read and reviewed a book titled Dragon Pearl? You might actually like the book. It has all kinds of things you like: mythology, dragons, space ships!

C: Yes, that book sounds like just the kind of thing I would like to read. Maybe I will ask her to lend it to me.

S: I think she would be happy to share. But there were other magical mythical creatures in this book, no?

C: Yes, there was a selkie! A seal person!

S: Yes, that was a nice surprise, wasn’t it?

C: Yes, but now you are the one doing all the spoiling, Sprinkles!

S: Okay, okay, I’ll stop. So let us wrap things up then. Overall, did you like the Menagerie books?

C: Yes I liked them a lot. They are very different from the Wings of Fire books, but they are just as funny! And they are really cool, and I still think Squorp, the griffin cub, is the best ever!

S: Yes, I know. Okay, give me three words to describe the books and we are done.

C: Funny. And breath-taking, because I had to hold my breath a lot of the time, trying to see what would happen next.

S: And your third word?

C: Well-written. I thought the story flowed really well and always kept me on my toes.

S: True. I agree with that. So I think it is time to close this chapter of our lives and say good bye to the Menagerie and our friends Logan, Zoe, and Blue. How do you want to end this review Caramel!

C: By saying my usual words: Stay tuned for more book bunny reviews!

Caramel enjoyed reading The Menagerie: Kraken and Lies by Tui Sutherland and Kari Sutherland and recommends the whole series to all the little bunnies who like magical and mythical creatures.
Caramel enjoyed reading The Menagerie: Kraken and Lies by Tui Sutherland and Kari Sutherland and recommends the whole series to all the little bunnies who like magical and mythical creatures.