Marshmallow reviews Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson

Today Marshmallow reviews Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson, published in 2017.

Marshmallow reviews Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson.
Marshmallow reviews Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson.

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

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): Jade Butler has been taught that she needs to take every opportunity she is offered, which is why she is still going to St. Francis High School. St. Francis is a private school, and when Jade was accepted with a scholarship, she knew that it was an opportunity, so as her mother taught her, she took it. When the book starts, she has been at St. Francis for two years. But being at St. Francis also means being away from her old friends and almost everyone she knows. Jade has few friends at school and her art is one thing she takes strength from.

This year, Jade is hoping that she will be chosen to be one of the group of people who will get to go to Costa Rica, to study abroad. But she is told that she has, instead, been selected to participate in a program called Woman to Woman. In Woman to Woman, Jade is assigned a mentor, like all of the other girls in the program. The program is supposed to help girls with issues. However, Jade’s mentor, a woman named Maxine, does not show up to the first meeting of the Woman to Woman program. Jade finds herself wondering, will this new Woman to Woman program actually help?

Marshmallow is reading Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson.
Marshmallow is reading Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson.

Marshmallow’s Review: I really enjoyed reading Piecing Me Together, but I want to say that I would recommend that younger bunnies wait until they are a little older before reading this book. It has some mature topics, and parents might want to wait until the bunnies are older. I think that the age group I would recommend Piecing Me Together the most to would to 12-year-old bunnies and up. But if course, if a parent has read it and thinks that their child should read it, Piecing Me Together is a great book.

I think that the author, Renée Watson, is very successful in creating realistic characters. Even if you haven’t been in all of the situations that the characters are in, you can identify or relate with them. Not only are the characters realistic, the book shows some issues in realistic ways. For example at some point, a salesclerk asks if she can take Jade’s purse, so she can make sure that Jade is not stealing anything. The salesclerk claims it is store policy, but Jade sees that several white women in the store still have their bags. The salesclerk claims it is because her bag is larger than theirs, but her bag is not actually that much larger. Through Jade’s eyes, the reader witnesses several such instances of racism.

The book is written in 76 short chapters. Each starts with a word in Spanish and its English translation. Jade is learning Spanish at school, and the words connect to the themes of the chapters well.

Marshmallow’s Rating: 95%.

Marshmallow is reading Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson.
Marshmallow rates Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson 95%.

Marshmallow reviews The Secret Sheriff of Sixth Grade by Jordan Sonnenblick

Marshmallow and Caramel have reviewed several books about school life for this blog before. Today Marshmallow wanted to talk about another book about school life: The Secret Sheriff of Sixth Grade by Jordan Sonnenblick. Sprinkles is taking notes and asking questions.

Marshmallow reviews The Secret Sheriff of Sixth Grade by Jordan Sonnenblick.
Marshmallow reviews The Secret Sheriff of Sixth Grade by Jordan Sonnenblick.

Sprinkles: So Marshmallow let us start with a quick summary. Can you tell us what this book is about?

Marshmallow: This book is about a kid named Maverick. He is short and people mistreat him at school. He also has some family problems. But when he starts sixth grade, he decides to try and change things. He decides to protect others who are mistreated.

S: That sounds really nice. He is not being treated well himself so he knows it feels terrible. So he decides to stand up for others so they won’t feel so lonely.

M: Yes.

S: So how does it go for him? Can he actually help other people?

M: He ends up being able to help, but at the start, he is always getting in trouble. He tries to stand up for others, but usually those people are not very appreciative or grateful. And there is really a lot going on at home. His mom is single and keeps making poor choices for boyfriends. They hit her and she is not always able to stand up to them and Maverick sees this and feels terrible that he is unable to protect his mom.

S: Yes, Maverick’s life is really hard, right? His mom is also always either working very hard at an unstable job or is out of work. Mom and son love each other and are usually kind to one another, but the home is not safe or comfortable.

M: Maverick does not have too many adults to trust, but he does have his aunt, and then eventually he finds another trusted grownup at school. I’m not telling who because I don’t want to give away all the details.

S: I agree. I think this gives people a good sense of the type of book this is.

M: Yes. Except that the book is also really really funny.

S: Yes, I will agree with that too. I was really really sad at some point while reading and then the next sentence made me laugh out loud. Maverick is a sincere, modest, and hilarious narrator.

M: That is true. His voice reminds me a bit of Percy Jackson.

S: How so?

M: They have the same sense of humor I think.

S: I guess so. I think they both are good at self-deprecating humor. And Percy has a lot of difficulties to fit in at school before he figures out he is a demigod. So maybe there is that too. Both Percy and Maverick are kids who did not start out life with things going easy for them.

M: Yes. I think so.

Marshmallow is reading The Secret Sheriff of Sixth Grade by Jordan Sonnenblick.
Marshmallow is reading The Secret Sheriff of Sixth Grade by Jordan Sonnenblick.

S: So what else would you like to say about this book? Did you enjoy reading it?

M: I enjoyed reading it, but I do think it is for older bunnies. Maverick’s life is very hard, and some kids might not be mature enough to read about domestic abuse and alcoholism and such.

S: Of course there are a lot of kids who have to live with these things, so for those kids, there is no way to avoid learning about them at any age.

M: That is true. I think maybe for those kids the book might also be good. There are good things that happen in the book too, and some of the difficulties are overcome.

S: So maybe for kids whose lives are difficult in these ways and in other ways, too, this might be a good book because it shows them that other people also suffer, and maybe kindness, Maverick’s way of trying to handle life, is still an option.

M: Yes.

S: The assistant principal at Maverick’s school has a little reminder in his office, a sentence on his wall:

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

page 67

I think it is a good summary of the main message of this book.

M: I think so too.

S: It seems that the author was inspired by a real person while writing this book. There are so many people who have really difficult lives, yet they never lose their kindness. It is hard but those people do it. This book is a good reminder.

M: Yes.

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

M: Hmm, let me see. It gets a bit hard to read sometimes, because it is so sad sometimes. But it is a good book overall. So I rate it 95%.

Marshmallow rates The Secret Sheriff of Sixth Grade by Jordan Sonnenblick 95%.
Marshmallow rates The Secret Sheriff of Sixth Grade by Jordan Sonnenblick 95%.

Marshmallow reviews Restart by Gordon Korman

Last year Marshmallow reviewed The Unteachables, a 2019 book by Gordon Korman. This week she reviews an earlier book by the same author: Restart, which was first published in 2017.

Marshmallow reviews Restart by Gordon Korman.
Marshmallow reviews Restart by Gordon Korman.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you liked some of Gordon Korman’s other books, such as The Unteachables, or if you want to read books about kids having second chances with friends at school, then this might be the book for you.

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): After falling off of the roof of his house, Chase Ambrose’s memory “just [goes] out the window.” He remembers how to do most things, like talking and walking, but he doesn’t know his family or his friends. He doesn’t even know his own name. All he remembers is a little blond girl in a blue dress. When he returns to his high school, it is clear that some people think of him as a hero, and some people try to avoid him as much as possible, as they are really scared of him.

At school, his “best friends” complain about the community service that they must do as a result of having damaged a school piano. When he learns this, Chase starts to wonder who he really was and who he is going to be. At lunch, he sits with a kid named Brandon who is very scared of him. At some point, Brandon realizes that Chase actually has amnesia. Many people don’t believe that Chase has amnesia at the beginning, either because they can’t believe it because they were very close to him so they do not want to believe it — this is true for Chase’s best friends, Bear and Aaron, who were two of Chase’s accomplices in their bullying of Joel Weber — or because they hate him so much and do not trust him — this is the case for Shoshanna Weber, Joel Weber’s twin sister.

Shoshanna hates Chase so much that when she sees him in Heaven on Ice, a local frozen yogurt place, she goes up to him and dumps her frozen yogurt on his head. In fact, the piano that Chase, Bear, and Aaron damaged by putting cherry bombs in it, was the same piano that Joel was playing on, resulting in him almost going into cardiac arrest. Chase eventually learns that Joel and Shoshanna’s parents had to move Joel to a different school because of Chase’s bullying. So Chase has to decide who he wants to be and who he was does not seem to be so great.

Marshmallow is reading Restart by Gordon Korman.
Marshmallow is reading Restart by Gordon Korman.

Marshmallow’s Review: I really enjoyed reading Restart. The characters are particularly realistic and they are also relatable. I do not know who my favorite character is, because I like all of them. The book is written from the perspectives of different characters. For example, one chapter might be told from Chase’s point of view and the next one might be coming from another person, for example, Brandon or Shoshanna.

Though Restart is a great book, I think that it is best for 8 and up, as the plot might be confusing for younger bunnies. The plot is not particularly complex, but younger bunnies might be confused especially if they don’t know what amnesia is. And the author uses a bad word.

I think the central theme of amnesia in Restart is interesting, though I personally wouldn’t want to have amnesia at all, and the author, Gordon Korman, does a very good job of telling it. I think it was kind of sad that Chase forgot everything about his family and friends, but when it turns out that he will get his memory back eventually, he turns out to become a nicer person, and gets new friends. In the end, in this book, it seemed like having amnesia turned out to be a good thing for him. (Again, for him.)

I think that bigger bunnies might also enjoy Restart, and I am trying to get Sprinkles to read it too. 

Marshmallow’s Rating: 95%.  

Marshmallow rates Restart by Gordon Korman 95%.
Marshmallow rates Restart by Gordon Korman 95%.

Marshmallow reviews Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Today Marshmallow reviews a book that her school teacher introduced her to: Wonder by R.J Palacio.

Marshmallow reviews Wonder by R.J. Palacio.
Marshmallow reviews Wonder by R.J. Palacio. 

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like books about school and friendship, then this might be the book for you. 

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): August (Auggie) Pullman was born with health issues that caused him to look very different from a lot of other kids. He had been homeschooled because he would get sick and possibly die if he went to school with other children. But now that he is stronger, his parents are now trying to get him to go to Beecher Prep, a private school. At first he is reluctant but eventually decides to go.

The principal, Mr. Tushman, introduces him to three kids who take him on a tour of the school: Julian, Jack Will (Jack is his first name, and his last name is Will, but for some reason people sometimes call him Jack Will), and Charlotte. Charlotte and Jack are nice enough, but Julian asks questions like, “what happened to your face?” and “was your face burned in a fire?” But on the bright side, August likes Jack Will and wants to be friends with him. 

When August starts school, people try not to touch him or be next to him. At lunch, nobody wants to sit with him, not even Jack Will. But then a girl named Summer comes over and sits with him, and they become friends. Jack Will and August eventually become friends, too. Then on Halloween, August comes as a Bleeding Scream, not a Boba Fett (August is completely obsessed with Star Wars) as he said he would. He sits at a different desk and he overhears Julian and two mummies (he assumes they are Miles and Henry, two of Julian’s friends) saying mean things about him. But then he recognizes one of the mummies, and it is not Henry or Miles.

Marshmallow is reading Wonder by R.J. Palacio.
Marshmallow is reading Wonder by R.J. Palacio.

Marshmallow’s Review: Wonder is a great book for bunnies of many different ages. I think that it is especially meant for bunnies of ages 8-13 but it can still be enjoyed thoroughly by bunnies younger and/or older than that. Even grownup bunnies would enjoy reading it! (I am still trying to convince Sprinkles and Caramel to read it.)

A very interesting thing about Wonder is that different people narrate its different parts. For example. the first section is narrated by August, the second by August’s sister, Via (short for Olivia who looks like other kids), the third by Summer, and the fourth by Jack Will. And then there are many more sections. It is fun to read a book written in first person from many people’s perspectives, especially since their writing style is different.

Wonder has also been made into a movie though I have not seen it yet. Here is the trailer for it if you are interested: 

The trailer for the movie Wonder.

Wonder is a great book also because the plot is well-written and well thought-out. The characters are well-developed and really realistic. R. J. Palacio has created:

“A crackling page-turner filled with characters you can’t help but root for.”

­­­­Entertainment Weekly

Marshmallow’s Rating: 100%.

Marshmallow rates Wonder by R.J. Palacio 100%.
Marshmallow rates Wonder by R.J. Palacio 100%.