Marshmallow reviews Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper

Marshmallow recently read Over Sea, Under Stone written by Susan Cooper and first published in 1965. Today she is discussing it with Sprinkles.

Marshmallow reviews Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper.
Marshmallow reviews Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper.

Sprinkles: So Marshmallow, why don’t you start with a brief summary of what this book is about?

Marshmallow: Sure. Over Sea, Under Stone is about three kids, Barney, Simon and Jane. They are on vacation with their parents in Cornwall and are staying in an old house they rented together with an old family friend Great-Uncle Merry. Then they discover a mysterious map in a small room behind a wardrobe.

S: Oh, so like the kids in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, the first book written in the Chronicles of Narnia series, who find a new world within a wardrobe?

M: It is similar, but not quite the same. They do not go and find a new world inside the wardrobe. They find a map which allows them to see their own world through a new perspective.

S: How so?

M: When they show Great-Uncle Merry the map, he tells them of an ongoing war between good and evil, and that the warriors on both sides still are fighting it to this day.

S: Yes, this is a good summary I think. But this good versus evil fight is not as tied in with Christianity as it was in Narnia. Here, the good side is tied back to the King Arthur legends instead. It seems more directly connected to English lore. But the way you talked about the main characters, I also thought of a few other books you have reviewed for this blog. For example you reviewed Five Children and It by E. Nesbit and there too there were a few siblings that find something interesting during a family vacation. You also reviewed  Half Magic by Edward Eager which is similar.

M: Yes! And Half Magic by Edward Eager also involved the King Arthur legends in some ways.

S: So it seems like there is this genre of siblings, a handful of ordinary kids finding something extraordinary and then their lives change. Would you like that to happen to you and Caramel?

M: No!

S: Why not?

M: Possibly because they almost always get into real big trouble. Almost always there is a real big danger. And that’s not very appealing to me.

S: I see. But you seem to like reading about these kinds of things happening to other little bunnies. I guess you enjoy living vicariously through these characters’ adventures!

M: Yes! I will agree to that.

Marshmallow is reading Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper.
Marshmallow is reading Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper.

S: Apparently Susan Cooper, the author, wrote four more books about the same conflict between good and evil after this one, starting about ten years after having published this book. Together the five books make up the Dark is Rising sequence. Are you curious about those books?

M: Well, I am curious about what Cooper does with the world, but honestly I am not always too keen to read about female characters written in the time these books were written. They are almost always too stereotypical. I was disappointed with the female characters in Narnia, and here, too, I was disappointed that Jane always worried about cleanliness and her brothers always picked on her for being a girl.

S: I know what you mean. But I thought Jane was not too terrible. She did sense something was wrong with the Withers from the start. And the boys did eventually treat her a bit better. So maybe the other books will be a bit better?

M: I did read an excerpt of the second book at the end of this book and it seemed like there are a whole lot of new characters in there.

S: Yes, I think that is the case. I also heard that many people like that second book a lot. So we might just have to read it to see for ourselves, don’t you think?

M: Yes.

S: So let us wrap this up then. How would you rate this book?

M: Let me see. There was not much humor and the kids were a little too serious for me, I could not relate to any of them, but the story was quite intriguing and kept me wondering till the end.

S: Yes, it was quite stressful for me at times. I did think the author kept up the suspense well till the end.

M: I was not stressed myself but the story did work well. So I rate the book 95% and recommend it to other bunnies. Stay tuned for more book bunnies reviews!

Marshmallow rates Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper 95%.
Marshmallow rates Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper 95%.

Marshmallow reviews When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

This week Marshmallow reviews When You Reach Me, a 2009 novel by Rebecca Stead.

Marshmallow reviews When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.
Marshmallow reviews When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like mystery or science fiction, or if you enjoyed reading other books written by Rebecca Stead, then this might be the book for you.

Marshmallow’s Summary (with spoilers): Twelve-year old Miranda, a sixth grader in New York City in the late 1970s, has just started to receive notes that tell her that someone is coming to save her friend’s life and their own. Here is the first note:

“M,
This is hard. Harder than I expected, even with your help. But I have been practicing, and my preparations go well. I am coming to save your friend’s life, and my own.
I ask two favors.
First, you must write me a letter.
Second, please remember to mention the location of your house key.
The trip is a difficult one. I will not be myself when I reach you.”

After this first note, Miranda starts to receive more notes. These notes say that she must not share them with anybody and that she must believe the notes. Then the person starts to send proof of what they’re saying is true. For example, the note says “Tesser well” and then her mother’s boyfriend gives her a copy of A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle signed by Madeleine L’Engle that says “Tesser well”.

In the middle of this, Miranda is also having school trouble. Her mom is preparing to go on a game show with the hopes of winning a large sum of money. Miranda is also having some problems with her best friend Sal.

There is in short a lot going on in Miranda’s life, and though some of it is normal kid stuff, the secret notes make things all quite mysterious. (And if you want to know more, you have to read the book!)

Marshmallow is reading When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.
Marshmallow is reading When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.

Marshmallow’s Review: This is a great book. It has a very interesting but also a very complex plot, and the reader may have a hard time finding who wrote the notes.

I think that this is also a very good book because the author, Rebecca Stead, is great at creating characters. My favorite character is probably Julie or Miranda. Miranda is really realistic, and she does things that make her unique, like tying and untying knots. 

This book might be a little hard to understand for kits (baby bunnies) because of its complex plot, and it is also not a particularly easy book to read. I think therefore that it would probably be best for bunnies aged eight and up. 

I think the best part of this book is that the author is an expert at making the reader want to finish the book soon. The mystery is great because the reader wouldn’t be able to guess who the writer of the notes is because they are concealed by the author wonderfully. I think that this is a great book that is an excellent mix of mystery and science fiction and many other genres.

Marshmallow’s Rating: 100%.

Marshmallow rates When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead 100%.
Marshmallow rates When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead 100%.

Marshmallow reviews Tyrannosaurus Wrecks by Stuart Gibbs

Marshmallow has already reviewed the first five books from Stuart Gibbs’ FunJungle series: you can check out her review of the first book, Belly Uphere, while her review of the second book, Poached, is here. Her review of the third book Big Game is here, her review of the fourth book, Panda-monium, is available here, and her review of the fifth book in the series, Lion Down, is here. Today she shares with us her thoughts on the sixth and most recent book on the adventures of Teddy Fitzroy: Tyrannosaurus Wrecks.

Marshmallow reviews Tyrannosaurus Wrecks by Stuart Gibbs, the sixth book in Gibbs's FunJungle series..
Marshmallow reviews Tyrannosaurus Wrecks by Stuart Gibbs, the sixth book in Gibbs’s FunJungle series..

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like animals or if you have enjoyed some of Stuart Gibbs’s other books, then this might be the book for you. 

Marshmallow’s Summary (with spoilers): Teddy Fitzroy lives in FunJungle, a mix of a zoo and a theme park. He has just apprehended the Zebra Spanker when his friend, Sage Bonotto, asks him to investigate the disappearance of his tyrannosaurus rex. Apparently, while the skeleton of a T-rex was being excavated on his family’s ranch, someone stole her skull.

The case seems impossible. The skull of Minerva (which is what they named the T-rex) was five hundred pounds and the burglary happened in the middle of a really bad storm. The thieves should have left some trace but it seems like they haven’t. Even worse, the local police thinks that it’s a hoax. So Sage asks Teddy to investigate. (Teddy solved some other cases before.)

While Teddy is at the scene of the crime, the twin school bullies Tim and Jim Barksdale call him. Jim asks Teddy whether he can use the Heimlich maneuver on a snake that has eaten a cat.  It turns out that Tim and Jim illegally purchased an anaconda that ate their cat Griselda. As he investigates, Teddy finds that the twins bought it from Snakes Alive, a new zoo that is nearby and is trying to take business from FunJungle. (Their signs say stuff like “MORE FUN THAN FUNJUNGLE—AND A WHOLE LOT CHEAPER!”)

As Teddy learns more about the two cases, things get more and more complicated. You will just have to read the book to find out more!

Marshmallow is reading Tyrannosaurus Wrecks by Stuart Gibbs, the sixth book in Gibbs's FunJungle series..
Marshmallow is reading Tyrannosaurus Wrecks by Stuart Gibbs, the sixth book in Gibbs’s FunJungle series..

Marshmallow’s Review: This is a really good book for people who like to read about animals and mysteries. The characters are very well written. The plot involves a very interesting mystery. There are a lot of people that you could suspect, and the thief is someone I would not have suspected. Without all of the evidence, it would be impossible to solve the case.

At the end of the book, the author, Stuart Gibbs, has some notes about one of the main topics in the book: animal trafficking. This is something Gibbs does in all the FunJungle books, and helps the reader connect the book to real life.

Tyrannosaurus Wrecks is probably best for ages nine and up. This is because the plot is very intricate and it could be very confusing if the reader doesn’t catch all of the evidence. Also it could be scary for readers who do not like snakes. Another reason is because its “language is not very delicate” (as Roald Dahl wrote about Matilda‘s father). But all that aside, this is a very entertaining book. 

Marshmallow’s Review: 95%.

Marshmallow rates Tyrannosaurus Wrecks by Stuart Gibbs, the sixth book in Gibbs's FunJungle series, 95%..
Marshmallow rates Tyrannosaurus Wrecks by Stuart Gibbs, the sixth book in Gibbs’s FunJungle series, 95%..

Marshmallow reviews Big Game by Stuart Gibbs

Marshmallow has already reviewed several books from Stuart Gibbs’ FunJungle series: you can check out her review of the first book, Belly Up, here, while her review of the second book, Poached, is here, her review of the fourth book, Panda-monium, is available here, and her review of the fifth book in the series, Lion Down, is here. Today she finally got around to sharing with us her thoughts on the third book on the adventures of Teddy Fitzroy: Big Game.

Marshmallow reviews the third book, Big Game, in the FunJungle series by Stuart Gibbs.
Marshmallow reviews the third book, Big Game, in the FunJungle series by Stuart Gibbs.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like detective books or enjoyed reading some of Stuart Gibbs’s other books, then this might be the book for you.

Marshmallow’s Summary (with spoilers): Teddy Fitzroy lives at FunJungle, the world’s biggest, most elaborate zoo, where a lot of events have gone wrong. For example, the zoo’s mascot, Henry the Hippo, was murdered in the first book, Belly Up. Then in the second book, Poached, which Caramel is reading now, Kazoo the Koala is stolen, after the zoo and its billionaire owner, J.J. McCracken, went to “enormous lengths” to secure the bringing it to FunJungle. 

Now, the zoo has to face one of their hardest cases. Someone is shooting at Rhonda Rhino! Teddy has gotten into a lot of danger while solving other cases in FunJungle, so he wisely decides that he will sit out on this one. But J.J. McCracken has other ideas. 

Since J.J. knows that he is good at solving mysteries, he brings Teddy to his office, with his daughter, Summer, who is Teddy’s friend. J.J. asks Teddy if he will take the case, and Teddy says that he will consider it and ask his parents about it. While Summer calls her mother, J.J. hints that if Teddy doesn’t help, his parents will be fired. Teddy of course does not want his parents to lose their jobs, so he goes to the scene of the crime, Rhonda’s pen, where she is kept while she is pregnant. 

Marshmallow is reading Big Game by Stuart Gibbs.
Marshmallow is reading Big Game by Stuart Gibbs.

Marshmallow’s Review: This is one of Teddy’s hardest cases. It is really hard to decide what to make of the situation, since there are so many loose ends, but of course they neatly tie up at the end. Like how the assailant didn’t use a silencer when they took the first shot and then later in another attempt did. 

I think that the attacker did a very good job of hiding their guilt. I never suspected them. A lot of the clues do not make any sense about who the attacker is, until the end. 

The book is very well written and thought out. The clues are all laid out, and at the end of the book (this is a personal experience, it might not happen to you), I wondered how I hadn’t realized who the guilty person was before. 

The author has once again mixed humor, thrill, and mystery in this book making this a great book for fans of mystery books. 

Marshmallow’s Rating: 95%.

Marshmallow rates the third book, Big Game, in the FunJungle series by Stuart Gibbs, 95%..
Marshmallow rates the third book, Big Game, in the FunJungle series by Stuart Gibbs, 95%..