Caramel reviews N.E.R.D.S.: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society, by Michael Buckley

Today Caramel wanted to review a book he discovered in his classroom library: N.E.R.D.S.: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society, written by Michael Buckley. As usual Sprinkles is taking notes and asking questions.

Caramel reviews N.E.R.D.S.: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society, by Michael Buckley.
Caramel reviews N.E.R.D.S.: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society, by Michael Buckley.

Sprinkles: So Caramel, tell me a bit about this book.

Caramel:The book is about a secret organization called N.E.R.D.S. It is an acronym, for National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society.

S: That’s a funny way to open up the word “nerds”. So this secret society, is it made up of children?

C: Yes, and they are all nerds.

S: What does that mean?

C: I think it means someone who is super-smart.

S: And sometimes it comes with connotations of socially awkward and inept, because people occasionally use the term in a derogatory way.

C: But the nerds in this book are pretty cool. They have super cool gadgets.

S: Ooh, that sounds interesting. Tell me more.

C: For example there is a character called Jackson Jones, who is wearing braces, but the braces can change into weapons and anything else he needs at the time. Then there is Duncan Dewey who can shoot glue out of his hands. He can also stick to walls and so can climb walls. He can also climb on the ceiling.

S: Those are some super cool tools and gadgets really. The characters seem to be nerdy but also kind of like superheroes, right?

C: Yes. And they solve crimes together.

S: But they are school children, aren’t they? How does this crime-fighting fit into their school lives?

C: There is a fire alarm that they set off and they sneak away without anyone noticing they are gone.

S: Hmm, not a very respectable thing to do, setting off an alarm like that, but maybe they are doing very important work. So tell me, what kinds of crimes do they fight?

C: They are fighting evil people, like people who kidnap scientists and so on. So in this book a few scientists have been kidnapped, and they try to get the scientists back.

S: Oooh, that sounds serious!

C: Yes it is.

Caramel is reading N.E.R.D.S.: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society, by Michael Buckley.
Caramel is reading N.E.R.D.S.: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society, by Michael Buckley.

S: So I saw you read this book really fast. There are lots of pictures in it, and I could see that the book could be appealing to you from how it started. Can you read the dedication page to our readers?

C: Okay, here it is:

For dorks, dweebs, geeks, spazzes, waste cases, and nerds everywhere. Some day you too will change the world.

S: So this book is written to inspire kids who see themselves as outcasts in a way.

C: I guess it could be. But it is also really really funny. And the mystery is very interesting.

S: I can tell you really enjoyed the book. Do you think you will read the next one in the series? Apparently there are a total of five books.

C: Yes. I want to read them all!

S: That’s very good. So tell me your three words to describe the book then, and we can wrap up this review.

C: Fun, funny, and adventurous.

S: That sounds neat! And what else do you want to tell our readers?

C: Stay tuned for more book bunny reviews!

Caramel enjoyed reading N.E.R.D.S.: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society, by Michael Buckley, and is looking forward to reading the next book in the series.
Caramel enjoyed reading N.E.R.D.S.: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society, by Michael Buckley, and is looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

Marshmallow reviews The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper

A few weeks ago Marshmallow reviewed Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper. Today she is talking with Sprinkles about The Dark Is Rising, Susan Cooper’s next book in The Dark Is Rising series, the book that gave the series its name.

Marshmallow reviews The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper.
Marshmallow reviews The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper.

Sprinkles: Marshmallow let us start with you telling us what this book is about.

Marshmallow: This book is about a boy named Will. On his eleventh birthday, he discovers that he is one of the Old Ones. That means he has some special kind of magic powers.

S: Hmm, that reminds me of another eleven-year old boy who discovers he has magic powers…

M: Yes, Harry Potter also learns about his magic powers when he turns eleven.

S: Why do you think these two authors took this age to be the time for these boys to discover their hidden powers?

M: Probably because that is the average age of the readers they are targeting.

S: That is a very good reason Marshmallow. Can you think of any others?

M: I guess that is when children go to a new school, like finishing primary school?

S: I think that might be related. Eleven is also the age when many children start going through puberty. So it is naturally a time of change and discovery.

M: I guess that makes sense.

S: So now tell me what these Old Ones are about.

M: They are godlike, powerful beings, with magical powers. I think they might be immortal. They are on the side of the Light, which is always fighting the Dark.

S: Hmm, tell me more. What is the Light? Is the Dark the dark that is rising in the title of the book?

M: The Light stands for good and the Dark is evil.

S: So if the Light is represented or protected by immortal beings, are the protectors and defenders of the Dark also immortal?

M: Not sure. I think so. The Dark seems to find helpers at any era though, and the story of the book is about the twentieth century when a new battle is being fought.

S: Is this related to any of the wars of the twentieth century?

M: I think they might be related, but the fight between the Light and the Dark Will is pulled into involves him finding the Six Signs.

S: Hmm, what are the Six Signs?

M: They are six symbols made of wood, bronze, iron, water, fire, and stone. The fire and water ones are not really made of fire or water of course. But they represent them.

S: So Will is supposed to find these objects to help the Light, right?

M: Yes.

Marshmallow is reading The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper.
Marshmallow is reading The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper.

S: So this book is supposed to be in a five-book series that started with Over Sea, Under Stone. How are the two books related? Will was not in that first book, nor have we heard about the signs in that one.

M: True. Will was not in that book. And this book seems pretty unrelated to that book. But there is a character in this one that we know from the first book: Merriman Lyon in this book is Uncle Merry from the first book. And the events of the first book are mentioned in passing in this one.

S: That is interesting. And it seems from the description of the third book in the series that Barney, Simon and Jane, the three children from that first book, will meet Will eventually.

M: Oh, that’s intriguing!

S: We are going to have to read that third book soon then, I suppose.

M: Yes, I guess so.

S: Then did you enjoy reading this one?

M: Yes, I liked it! I rate it 1o0%.

S: Cool! Let us wrap up this review then. You always want to end our chats the way Caramel ends his reviews. Right? So go ahead!

M: Stay tuned for more book bunny reviews!

Marshmallow rates The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper 100%.
Marshmallow rates The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper 100%.

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%.