The Marshmallow Incident

Book review by
Darienne Stewart, Common Sense Media
The Marshmallow Incident Book Poster Image
Silly food fight yarn teaches lesson on settling disputes.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

People from both towns meet together to debate ending their feud; citizens put aside old differences and become good neighbors.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters reflect on the silliness of the dispute, then reasonably discuss whether they should make peace.

Violence & Scariness

Knights react swiftly to minor infraction, though their weapons are loaded only with marshmallows.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this goofy fable makes a good case for settling disagreements with open-minded debate, rather than striking out with whatever you’ve got on hand. Knights react swiftly and strongly when someone accidentally crosses the line separating the towns of Left and Right, unleashing a volley of marshmallows on both towns. The situation is obviously ridiculous, however, and the marshmallows are soon put to various good uses. 

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What's the story?

For as long as anyone can remember, the towns of Left and Right have kept to themselves, separated by a dotted line policed by the Order of the Ambidextrous Knights of the Dotted Line. When someone accidentally crosses that line, the knights respond with a volley of -- marshmallows?! The incident prompts the people of Left and Right to reconsider whether they’re so different after all.

Is it any good?

It’s a silly story, and no, the marshmallows don’t make a whole lot of sense; it doesn’t matter, though, because kids will love this food fight fantasy. The moral lesson wrapped up in sticky treats goes down pretty easily.

The text is serviceable, but the real pleasure for children lies in the illustrations. Ron Barrett’s pen-and-ink drawings are chock-full of entertaining details: a sign for the gift shop at the knights’ castle, a couple playing tennis with marshmallows, a knight’s helmet turned into a flowerpot, and much more.

Detailed pen-and-ink drawings offer much to explore and enjoy.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about resolving disputes. Have you ever tried to talk through a disagreement with someone? Were you able to agree? What do you think would have happened if the people of Left and Right couldn’t agree on what to do?

  • Look closely at the pages where the citizens discuss whether to erase the line -- not everyone agrees with the final decision. How does it feel to be on the losing side of a vote? Do you think the people who said they wanted to keep the line would feel the same way or view it differently after the line was erased?

  • Have you ever felt a rule was pointless and unnecessary? How would you go about challenging it?

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