Marshmallow reviews Guts by Raina Telgemeier

Marshmallow has already reviewed several graphic novels by Raina Telgemeier for the book bunnies blog. (You can read her reviews of Ghost (2006), the graphic novel version of Ann N. Martin’s Kristy’s Great Idea (The Baby-Sitters Club Graphic Novels #1) (2006), Drama (2012), Smile (2010), and Sisters (2014) if you’d like.) Today she reviews Guts (2019).

Marshmallow reviews Guts by Raina Telgemeier.
Marshmallow reviews Guts by Raina Telgemeier.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like books about family, fears, and personal development, or if you have enjoyed graphic novels by Raina Telgemeier before, then this might be the book for you. 

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): Raina  Telgemeier wakes up one night with a terrible stomachache and vomits. At first it seems like she has a stomach bug that was recently going around, as her mother is also throwing up. The two of them spend the rest of the night throwing up. Unfortunately for Raina, her fourth grade is a constant gross-out competition. Everyone seems fascinated by gross things. There is especially one girl named Michelle who is always mean to Raina. (But whenever Raina responds in kind, her teacher tells her to be nicer to Michelle and says that Raina doesn’t know everything about Michelle) The problem with all this grossness is that Raina seems more worried than everyone else. Eventually Raina becomes so concerned that she starts to monitor what she eats to make sure that she doesn’t become sick. Raina sometimes feels really sick, but there seems to be nothing really wrong; she seems perfectly healthy, at least physically. To get over her illness, Raina will have to face her fears with help from her family, her friends, and her therapist. 

Marshmallow is reading Guts by Raina Telgemeier.
Marshmallow is reading Guts by Raina Telgemeier.

Marshmallow’s Review: Guts, if you didn’t know, is based off the life of the author, specifically her fourth and fifth grade experience. The best way to describe this book is authentic because it is not at all artificial. The characters are all funny and relatable. The people in this book might also remind you of your friends, family, or other relations.

I did not think anything discussed or depicted in the book was disgusting, but it was probably the first fiction book I read that dealt with human bodily functions like vomiting and bowel movements. (A while ago, Caramel did review The Science of Poop and Farts: The Smelly Truth About Digestion by Alex Woolf for our blog, but that was a science facts book; these types of things do not typically show up in most fiction books.)

This video of Raina Telgemeier talking about Guts summarizes and contextualizes the book really well:

“Raina Telgemeier: Guts — let’s just talk about it” – YouTube video.

I think that Guts is a good addition to Smile and Sisters. As far as I know, this is the last book Raina Telgemeier has written about her childhood, even though time-wise, it comes before the other two. I found it interesting to read about what had occurred before the first two books, and some characters in the first book who were mentioned were also in Guts, which definitely added to how real the books felt. I especially like how the author, Raina Telgemeier, doesn’t leave anything out and how original the books are.

Marshmallow’s Rating: 95%.

Marshmallow rates Guts by Raina Telgemeier 95%.
Marshmallow rates Guts by Raina Telgemeier 95%.

Marshmallow reviews Sisters by Raina Telgemeier

Last week Marshmallow reviewed Smile by Raina Telgemeier. This week she continues her Telgemeier streak with the next graphic novel by this prolific author: Sisters (2014). Sprinkles is taking notes and asking questions.

Marshmallow reviews Sisters by Raina Telgemeier.
Marshmallow reviews Sisters by Raina Telgemeier.

Sprinkles: So Marshmallow you have been reading graphic novels by Raina Telgemeier for a while now. And finally you got to Sisters.

Marshmallow: Yes.

S: The cover says this book accompanies Smile. I seem to remember that you wrote that that book was quite self-contained. How is this related to it?

M: They are related by the fact that both are about the same characters. The main character is the author herself, once again. But the main story line of this book is different. And it is a different time in her life. Instead of the school year, this is about summer time, about a summer when the author and her family took a road trip from California to Colorado to visit relatives.

S: I see. What is the main challenge this time?

M: The author and her sister are arguing too much. They are not in good terms. And there is a snake in their truck. And there are some problems between their parents.

S: I see. Seeing how the title mentions the sisters, I am assuming the book is mainly focusing on them getting their relationship in order?

M: Yes mostly.

S: So did you enjoy reading this book?

M: Yes. I always like Telgemeier’s drawings. She has a unique style. The faces of the characters are always very expressive. I like the color palate too. There is someone else who adds the coloring I think, Braden Lamb. I think the color choices add to the specific moods in each panel.

Marshmallow is reading Sisters by Raina Telgemeier.
Marshmallow is reading Sisters by Raina Telgemeier.

S: Did you find this book helped you think about your relationship with Caramel a bit?

M: No, not really. Caramel is my brother, and we don’t fight that much.

S: Really? So these two sisters fight more than you two? Hmm, that is some serious discord in the family then. Okay, so what else do you want to tell our readers about this book?

M: If you do have a sibling, this book might be helpful to you to think about your relationship with them, and see if you can be a better sibling yourself. So actually, maybe the book did make me think a bit about Caramel and me. I am thinking of how I can be a better big sister to him.

S: That is nice Marshmallow. I think you are a good big sister. And Caramel is a good little brother. So is the author the older sister or the younger?

M: She is the older one, like me.

S: I see.

M: But she is not totally like me. She is detached from her family at the beginning of the road trip. But through the book she starts feeling closer to them.

S: That is nice.

M: Yeah, I thought the book was pretty good. One thing I was not too keen on was that one of the story threads, the one about the parents and their problems, was not completely resolved. I wanted some more closure.

S: Well, you said this is a book about the author’s own life. Sometimes in real life, we don’t get closure, especially on big issues.

M: Yeah, I guess I wanted that part to be more like a book than real life.

S: I can see that. So the book was at times too much like real life! Anyways, it seems like this was all around a very good book. How would you rate it Marshmallow?

M: I’d rate it 95%.

S: Cool. And what do you want to tell our readers as we wrap up this review?

M: Stay tuned for more amazing book reviews from the book bunnies!

Marshmallow rates Sisters by Raina Telgemeier 95%.
Marshmallow rates Sisters by Raina Telgemeier 95%.

Marshmallow reviews Smile by Raina Telgemeier

Marshmallow has reviewed three books by Raina Telgemeier before: Ghost (2006), the graphic novel version of Ann N. Martin’s Kristy’s Great Idea (The Baby-Sitters Club Graphic Novels #1) (2006), and Drama (2012). For her first review after her summer break she chose to write about a fourth Telgemeier book: Smile (2010).

Marshmallow reviews Smile by Raina Telgemeier.
Marshmallow reviews Smile by Raina Telgemeier.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like books about friends, friendship, and school, or if you enjoyed any of Raina Telgemeier’s other graphic novels, then this might be the book for you. 

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): When Raina Telgemeier fell after her Girl Scouts meeting, her front teeth fell too. Unfortunately, they were her adult teeth and they weren’t going to grow back. This leads to a long process that continues for years. Her teeth must be fixed through braces, headgear (only during the night), and more. Raina is extremely self conscious of her image at school, and fears that her braces will make her look like a “dork” or a “nerd”; her friend group doesn’t help at all. In fact, several of her friends tell her that, “cool just isn’t the word to describe you.” In addition to all this, Raina has, what the book cover calls, “boy confusion”. ’nuff said.

Raina feels overwhelmed by middle school, and eventually high school. She is frustrated by the teeth issue, and struggling to find out what real, true friendship really is. I can’t spoil too much, but I can say that by the end, Raina can finally smile. 

Marshmallow is reading Smile by Raina Telgemeier.
Marshmallow is reading Smile by Raina Telgemeier.

Marshmallow’s Review: I thought that this was a very interesting insight into the author’s childhood, and her experiences with middle and high school. This book is about the author, Raina Telgemeier, herself, and spans several years of her teenage experience. 

Though I couldn’t associate myself with all of the feelings the main character had, I can still sympathize with her problems, because the character is shown in such a real way. She is almost like a real person. (Oh, wait, she is.)

This is a graphic novel, and one of a series. However, despite the fact that there are two other books, this can definitely be read as a stand-alone book. But it doesn’t take too long to read, so you can probably read the books all at once and it makes a nice story all together. (I might even review the other books for the blog some day.) However, as I said, this could be a stand-alone, because the story ends at a satisfactory point. (Furthermore, the story arcs of the other two books are all different and the plots are all unconnected. I would of course say more if I do end up reviewing them, too.)

All in all, Smile is a good book that can be enjoyed by all. But I would say that probably a middle school / middle grades reader would find it more exciting than younger or older bunnies.  

Marshmallow’s Rating: 95%.

Marshmallow rates Smile by Raina Telgemeier 95%.
Marshmallow rates Smile by Raina Telgemeier 95%.

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%.