Caramel reviews Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem by Amanda Gorman and Loren Long

Today Caramel reviews the new book Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem, written by poet Amanda Gorman and illustrated by Loren Long. As usual, Sprinkles is taking notes and asking questions.

Caramel reviews Change Sings: A Children's Anthem, written by poet Amanda Gorman and illustrated by Loren Long.
Caramel reviews Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem, written by poet Amanda Gorman and illustrated by Loren Long.

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

Caramel: This book is about change, and how children can change the world.

S: That sounds inspiring! Tell me, how can children change the world?

C: Well, let me tell you what happens in the book. There is a girl in the beginning, who I think might be Amanda Gorman herself, and she has a guitar and is calling people to join her to try and make the world a better place. She helps another person recycle, then the two of them go and help others by giving them food, and deliver groceries to an elderly woman, and then they invite another boy to join their little band, each of them has an instrument. And the three of them go and build a ramp for a disabled kid’s home. Then that kid joins them too, and the group grows, and they keep cleaning up, planting flowers, and they fix up their community buildings and so on.

S: So they all help, and they all work together to make their community a more welcoming place, a good place to live.

C: Yes. And they are making music all along.

S: Well, the book is called A Children’s Anthem, and according to my dictionary, an anthem is a “a rousing or uplifting song identified with a particular group, body, or cause”, so it makes sense that there is music in there, right?

C: Yeah. And it makes it livelier and more fun.

Caramel is reading Change Sings: A Children's Anthem, written by poet Amanda Gorman and illustrated by Loren Long.
Caramel is reading Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem, written by poet Amanda Gorman and illustrated by Loren Long.

S: Amanda Gorman is a poet. Is there poetry in this book too?

C: Yes, the whole book is one long poem. All of it rhymes, and it is fun to read out loud.

S: Yeah, I enjoyed reading it out loud with you. We saw Gorman read her poem “The Hill We Climb” in the inauguration of President Joe Biden this January. Do you remember?

C: Yes I do. Can we put a video of her poem here?

S: Yes, of course. Okay, here it is:

Amanda Gorman reads inauguration poem, ‘The Hill We Climb’ (January 20, 2021, PBS).

S: So what do you think about the poem that is the main text of the book?

C: There are so many different types of people, and the poem brings them all together. And even though they are all very different, they all work together and make their community better.

S: So you also like the illustrations.

C: Yes. They are very colorful. And the children really look like they are dancing and making music and having lots of fun. But this one boy looks like he is dancing but I don’t think that the position he is in is possible, his feet would break!

S: Yes, but think of it not as standing but while jumping up and down or turning around, in some instant, you might look like you are doing something impossible.

C: I guess he could be jumping up. And there is a kid who is playing basketball and that is cool too.

S: Yes, the children when they join are just doing standard kid things and they just join in to help. And that seems to be the message, right? That we can all help.

C: And even us kids can help too, and if we do, we can change the world.

S: That is inspiring. Okay Caramel, we wrote long enough. Tell me your three words to describe this book, and we can wrap it up.

C: Colorful, inspiring, poetic.

S: I like those words Caramel. And what do you want to say to finish the review?

C: Stay tuned for more book bunny reviews!

Caramel enjoyed reading Change Sings: A Children's Anthem, written by poet Amanda Gorman and illustrated by Loren Long, and recommends it to little bunnies who enjoy the sound of words and like to think about how they can make the world a better place.
Caramel enjoyed reading Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem, written by poet Amanda Gorman and illustrated by Loren Long, and recommends it to little bunnies who enjoy the sound of words and like to think about how they can make the world a better place.

Marshmallow reviews Starfish by Lisa Fipps

Every year the book bunnies have been taking July off. In her last review before this year’s summer break, Marshmallow decided to review Starfish by Lisa Fipps.

Marshmallow reviews Starfish by Lisa Fipps.
Marshmallow reviews Starfish by Lisa Fipps.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like books about bullying, differences, school, or friends, then this might be the book for you.

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): Eliana Elizabeth Montgomery-Hofstein hasn’t been called by her real name since she was five. The only people who call her by her real name are her parents, her best friend Viv, and her teachers. At school and at home, she is called Splash. This is because at her fifth birthday party, she jumped into her pool wearing a whale swimsuit and she made a large splash. Since then her classmates and even her siblings have been treating her terribly because she is larger than other kids. Her mother keeps trying to make her go on diets and even tries to make Ellie have bariatric surgery.

Sadly, Viv, Ellie’s best friend, has moved away. However, Ellie has found a new friend, Catalina, a girl who lives next to her but doesn’t go to her school. Ellie likes spending time with her new friend. She swims while Catalina plays her guitar. But her time at school is not so pleasant. When she walks in the hallways, everyone presses themselves against the wall because they are pretending that she is so big that she is squashing them against the wall. At home, her brother says mean things to her and her mother keeps telling her that she is too big.

Ellie tries to live by her “Fat Girl Rules”. Her “Fat Girl Rules” are stuff like, “You need to bully yourself as much as, if not more than, everyone bullies you.”, “You don’t deserve to be seen or heard, to take up room, to be noticed. Make yourself small.”, “When someone is laughing, they’re laughing at you.”, and “No making waves.”

Recently, Ellie has started to go to a therapist. Her therapist helps her deal with her emotions and process the events of her day. With her therapist, her father, and her friend, Ellie manages to brave through her life, even though it sometimes seems like everything is against her.

Marshmallow is reading Starfish by Lisa Fipps.
Marshmallow is reading Starfish by Lisa Fipps.

Marshmallow’s Review: I think that Starfish is a very moving book. It reminded me of another book I reviewed before: Blubber by Judy Blume. There, too, there was a girl who was bullied because of her size, though Starfish is narrated by the person being bullied.

Starfish is written like a poem, but it is free verse. I have not read too many books written in verse like this, but I think that it worked really well for Starfish. The poetry reminded me of the book I reviewed two weeks ago: Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson.

After reading this book, I read the author’s note, which says that everything in Starfish happened to her in some version or another. Since the author went through these experiences, she did a great job making the characters realistic and relatable. My favorite character is Catalina because she is a great friend and she is wise. But not only did the author make likable characters, she also made characters who are very unlikable. Everyone at school is mean to Ellie, but the main people who bully her are two girls and one boy. Ellie and Viv called them, Enemy Number 1, Enemy Number 2, and Enemy Number 3 (not in front of them though).

Marshmallow’s Rating: 100%

Marshmallow rates Starfish by Lisa Fipps 100%.
Marshmallow rates Starfish by Lisa Fipps 100%.

Marshmallow reviews BrainJuice American History: Fresh Squeezed! by Carol Diggory Shields

Today Marshmallow shares some thoughts on a little book of history: BrainJuice: American History, Fresh Squeezed! written in poetic form by Carol Diggory Shields and illustrated by Richard Thompson.

Marshmallow reviews BrainJuice: American History, Fresh Squeezed! written in poetic form by Carol Diggory Shields and illustrated by Richard Thompson.
Marshmallow reviews BrainJuice: American History, Fresh Squeezed! written in poetic form by Carol Diggory Shields and illustrated by Richard Thompson.

Marshmallow’s quick take: If you are looking for an amusing history book or like poetry, this might be the book for you.

Too many books? No time to read?
BrainJuice is just what you need.
We squeezed the facts, threw in some rhyme,
Twice the knowledge in half the time.

Whether slowly sipped or gulped with gusto,
BrainJuice
is:
Nutritionally Balanced!
Masterfully distilled!
Unconditionally guaranteed pure!
Totally concentrated;

And
100% refreshing!

This is the poem on the back of this BrainJuice book. BrainJuice American History Fresh Squeezed! explains history in short, memorable poems. It teaches the reader about American history since 245,000,000 BCE when the dinosaurs were around. This is the first poem in the book:

THE FIRST
The first Americans who roamed the prairie
Were kind of big and kind of scary
Some lived alone, some in a bunch,
A few of them ate the others for lunch.
Some were gentle, some were mean,
Some were spotted or dotted or green.
They hissed and growled and roared great roars—
The first Americans were dinosaurs.

The book contains a total of forty-one poems and ends with a moving poem about the Statue of Liberty, called The Lady.

Marshmallow is pointing at one of the poems in BrainJuice: American History, Fresh Squeezed! written in poetic form by Carol Diggory Shields and illustrated by Richard Thompson. This is about Christopher Columbus and his arrival in the Americas.
Marshmallow is pointing at one of the poems in BrainJuice: American History, Fresh Squeezed! written in poetic form by Carol Diggory Shields and illustrated by Richard Thompson. This is about Christopher Columbus and his arrival in the Americas.

Marshmallow’s review: Some people think that history is boring, but this book is proof that it is not. The poems are written in a style that will entertain and teach the reader about the American Revolution, the Presidents, and the “discovery” of the Americas. It is a great book for parents to get for their children / child if they want them to be interested in the fascinating history of America. But I think that this would be a good book for all ages. 

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It is a great read for those who think that history is just memorizing dates and the events that happened on those dates. The poems are short so they are easy to memorize so soon you will know all of the main events that occurred in American history quickly and efficiently. Anyone who wants to learn about American history can get down some of the basic facts with this book.

Marshmallow is reading one of the poems in BrainJuice: American History, Fresh Squeezed! written in poetic form by Carol Diggory Shields and illustrated by Richard Thompson. This is about the presidents.
Marshmallow is reading one of the poems in BrainJuice: American History, Fresh Squeezed! written in poetic form by Carol Diggory Shields and illustrated by Richard Thompson. This is about the presidents.

The pictures in the book add a lot to the poems. I especially liked the pictures that had writing on them. Some of the pictures are funny and others are just more descriptive.

The pages of the book are split into two parts. There is a thin pink strip on the top of each page which is a timeline that starts in 245,000,000 BCE (when the dinosaurs are around) and ends on September 11, 2001 when “Over 3,000 are killed in terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.” The rest of the page typically contains a poem or a picture associated to the time period.

Another good thing about this fantastic book is that it explains well some very difficult events that might be challenging to explain to young children. It describes the Trail of Tears, for example, but it iis not all inclusive of course. For example it does not mention Japanese internment camps, which I read about in They Called Us Enemy.

Marshmallow’s rating: 95%.

Marshmallow rates BrainJuice: American History, Fresh Squeezed! written in poetic form by Carol Diggory Shields and illustrated by Richard Thompson 95%.
Marshmallow rates BrainJuice: American History, Fresh Squeezed! written in poetic form by Carol Diggory Shields and illustrated by Richard Thompson 95%.

Marshmallow reviews A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein

Reading The Unscratchable Itch in Caramel’s review of The Itchy Book by LeUyen Pham from last week reminded Marshmallow of Shel Silverstein’s A Light in the Attic. Below she reviews this old favorite.

Marshmallow reviews A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein.
Marshmallow reviews A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein.

Marshmallow’s quick take: If you like poetry books, then this might be the book for you.

Marshmallow’s Overview: This is a book of poems written for children by the author of the famous The Giving Tree, Shel Silverstein. Silverstein also wrote another poetry book for children called Where The Sidewalk Ends. He also wrote The Missing Piece Meets the Big O, which Caramel wants to review some day. (Oh no, I told you what Caramel is going to review!)

Marshmallow’s Favorites: My personal favorites are Fancy Dive, Peckin’, Ladies First, and Almost Perfect. I even memorized Fancy Dive and Peckin’ already. 

I like Fancy Dive because it is funny but also involves a few broken bones. 

The fanciest dive that ever was dove
Was done by Melissa of Coconut Grove.
She bounced on the board and flew into the air
With a twist of her head and a twirl of her hair.
She did thirty-four jackknives, backflipped and spun,
Quadruple gainered, and reached for the sun,
And then somersaulted nine times and a quarter—
And looked down and saw that the pool had no water..

Shel Silverstein, A Light in the Attic

As you can tell from this example, many of the poems have an interesting twist in the end. There is a sense of Dr. Seuss in Shel Silverstein I think. 

Peckin’ is very sad but humorous. 

The saddest thing I ever did see
Was a woodpecker peckin’ at a plastic tree.
He looks at me and “Friend,” says he,
“Things ain’t as sweet as they used to be.

Shel Silverstein, A Light in the Attic.

This poem reminds me of the tragic story of Nigel, the lonely gannet. This was a bird in New Zealand that fell in love with a concrete bird and stayed with the concrete bird and eventually died. Poor Nigel was faithful to the very end.

Ladies First is a good poem and so is Almost Perfect.  In both poems, the main character is an annoying person who goes through life saying the same annoying phrase over and over again. Both Mary Hume (Almost Perfect) and Pamela Purse (Ladies First) get precisely what they deserve in the end. 

Marshmallow is reading Ladies First by Shel Silverstein in A Light in the Attic.
Marshmallow is reading Ladies First by Shel Silverstein in A Light in the Attic.

There are over a hundred more poems in the whole book. You should check them out yourself!

Marshmallow’s Review: Shel Silverstein’s poems are funny almost all the time — some are sad, like Cloony the Clown — but they are always well written. They all sound good; I enjoy reading many of the poems out loud to Caramel. Almost all poems in the book come with an illustration (drawn by Shel Silverstein himself) that adds to its effect.

This is overall a very good book. I am currently rereading the book for the fifth time, and I expect to be rereading it again and again in the future. 

Marshmallow’s rating: 100%

Marshmallow rates A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein 100%.
Marshmallow rates A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein 100%.