Sam Garton and Otter – Picture Book Month



As Picture Book Month continues, your lit. rat begins his series of Author/Illustrator Spotlights where we celebrate some of the best and brightest in the world today.


Today’s spotlight is all about author-illustrator Sam Garton, and his friend, Otter-


 I Am Otter

I Am Otter (@i_am_otter)

by Sam Garton (@SamuelGarton)

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

(An Imprint ofHarperCollins)

Pub. Date: April 29th, 2014

Your lit. rat named this book one of T.A.A.’s “Most Anticipated Reads of 2014″ back in 2013 during our first series of author/illustrator spotlights celebrating “Picture Book Month.” 

It’s also a favorite of my friends “Swinebert & Dempsey.”


They’re such BIG fans, in fact, they made this video in honor the book’s launch on April 29th, 2014-

I Am Otter

(Celebration Video from Swinebert & Dempsey) 

[April 29, 2014]

This book also has the honor of being the very first book your. lit. rat EVER pre-ordered!


It’s also the first time I’ve connected with a book’s star pre its release.

On May 5th, 2014, T.A.A. reviewed “I Am Otter” and is one of the best books your lit. rat set eyes upon this year. 

In Early November 2014, “I Am Otter” was in the semifinals of the Goodreads Choice Awards in the picture book category through write-in votes from diverse fans across the globe! (including yours truly)

Sadly, it didn’t make the finals, but Otter took it in stride.

(Giraffe, not so much…)

But #TeamOtter still had something to cheer about when recently, revealed the cover for Otter’s next book-

Otter in Space

Expect T.A.A. to be on the lookout when this beams down in May 2015* (which is also your lit. rat’s birthday month!)

During the summer, I heard rumblings that another Otter book is in the works, and I was so excited I made this video teaser MONTHS ago (before the cover was revealed)-

(“Otter in Space” Spring 2014 Teaser)

Learn more about Otter at her OFFICIAL website- 


Oh, one last thing-

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Weekly Readings XIII




Weekly Readings 13 G+



Welcome to another addition of

“Weekly Readings”


For those new here, Weekly Readings is when your lit. rat reviews books I’ve read here and there.


While T.A.A. focuses on animal stories, we do give humans their due now and again…



This week, we’re taking a walk on the anti-hero side, between robber dogs, dogs on the lam, and weasels who want to take over the world!


It’s just a typical day in the world of fantastic fauna, and your lit. rat (ever on the side of good) chronicles it for you, my precious readers-




Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam

by Tracey Corderoy (@TraceyCorderoy)

Illustrated by Steven Lenton (@2dscrumptious)

Publisher: Nosy Crow

[An Imprint of Candlewick Press (@Candlewick)]

Pub. Date: August 6th, 2013



Whoever said it’s easier to make a dishonest living never met Shifty and Sam, two dogs with major hard luck in the thievery racket.


For every “Artful Dodger” or “Bonnie and Clyde” there’s a  “Laurel and Hardy” of the robber fraternity, and that’s the badge of dishonor these dogs wear. Their “Swag” bag often empty of loot, and as such short on money. 


One night, they hatch their most promising plan yet, invite their neighbors to tea, treat them to bite-sized feast, then slip out and ransack faster than you can say “R.S.V.P.”


The only thing is: they can’t afford to get a ready-made spread, and they’ve never baked before!


But hey, desperate times call for learning the precise measurements behind baking, and as a fledgling home baker myself, that’s no idle matter.


Luckily with a cookery book on their paws, and the gumption only desperation can bring about, they surprise themselves (and their guests) with a feast of truly delectable edibles.


“Operation: Trojan Tea Party” didn’t go off without a hitch, but that’s only the beginning of their problems…


Author Tracey Corderoy uses a light rhyming scheme and couplet paragraphs that convey a concise yet complete narrative that nicely blends with Steven Lenton’s illustrations that use color, light and shadows to excellent effect, I truly felt like I was living out a short film as I read through.


While we at T.A.A. don’t condone theft, of course, we do support anyone who changes their ways for the better, and without spoiling the ending, let’s just say “Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam” bring a fresh spin on the often spoken adage “Crime Doesn’t Pay.”


To invoke the words of Jiminy Cricket “Let your conscience be your guide.”




Here’s our fan book trailer for

“Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam”



NOTE FROM THE LITERARY RAT: I’m also happy to share that another “Shifty and Sam” book is in the works! Your lit. rat will keep you posted as more details are available.









Bad Dog

by Nina Laden

Publisher: Walker Children’s Books

Pub. Date: September 1st, 2000


Often people describe picture books being akin to poetry and song, and “Bad Dog” is a brilliantly executed example.


A misreading of a newspaper ad about “Free Range Chickens” sends a hungry and spirited dog and his fellow canine buddy on a road trip of escalating proportions!



Anyone who’s tried to write in rhyme (including your lit. rat) knows it’s as HARD to do as it is effortless to read the best examples, and Nina’s rhyme scheme*  (*by which I mean “pattern”) allows a, without the potential burden of executing a “Madeline” rhyme on EVERY word of EVERY sentence.


If I were a musician I’d be DYING to turn this book into a song. Somewhere between Simon and Garfunkel’s 

“A Poem on the Underground Wall” [from their album “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme“] and the theme song for “CatDog.” (Yes, your lit. rat was a 90s kid, what of it?)


Nina’s Colorful illustrations really capture the sense of unleashed abandon (no pun intended) as our canine bros hit the road, dodging the cops, all in the name of fine and free range chicken, or something like that… 


“Bad Dog” is despite it’s title, a “Howling Good Time” pun fully intended here!


Last, but FAR from least, 





By Elys Dolan ()

Publisher: Candlewick Press (@Candlewick)

Pub. Date: February 25th, 2014


This was one of T.A.A.’s “Most Anticipated Reads of 2014″ during our celebration of “Picture Book Month” in 2013, and your lit. rat’s happy to report it lived up to that title.


While this rat likes to use his powers for good, the titular varmints of this book take pride and revelry in their often typecast role as the mischief makers who will settle for nothing less than WORLD DOMINATION.


A stark contrast to the novel, “The Wainscott Weasel” that we reviewed on T.A.A. recently.



Elys Dolan’s detailed and pop art doodle illustrations make excellent use of the added page real estate that comes with this book’s hefty size an width.


While short on words, this book is LONG on re-read value by giving the pre-reader (and the reader) lots of eye candy to bring more of themselves into the story.


I felt like each page spread was a movie set just waiting to be animated (it could double as a splendid interactive storybook app or dare I say animated special, hint-hint…)


Move over “Pinky and the Brain“, the WEASELS are bringing world domination out of the ’90s and into the 21st Century!


That’s is for Weekly Readings! See you next time.


NOTE FROM THE LITERARY RAT: I’m also happy to share that another “Shifty and Sam” book is in the works! Your lit. rat will keep you posted as more details are available.

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Weekly Readings XII





Weekly Readings XII (12) 2.5


Welcome to another edition of

Weekly Readings! 


Usually, Weekly Readings is when your lit. rat reviews a mix of picture books, and just recently we’ve extended into early readers, middle grade (and some YA) novels.


This week, I’m focusing on one book close to your lit. rat’s heart that’s celebrating a very special event- 


The Wainscott Weasel

The Wainscott Weasel

by Tor Seidler

Illustrated by Fred Marcelino

Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers 

(Imprint of Simon & Schuster

[@SimonKIDS] | [@simonschuster] )

Pub. Date: September 1st, 2014



A Rat's Tale + The Revenge of Randal-Reese-Rat

Those who know your lit. rat well knows that one of my favorite authors is Tor Seidler, and a bit after reading

“A Rat’s Tale” (the book that inspired me to write GABRIEL) and its companion follow-up “The Revenge of Randal Reese-Rat” (Illustrated by Brett Helquist) first hooked me into the idea that books could entertain, not just inform.

Often heralded as the “Modern E.B. White” Tor Seidler is one of several authors whom I feel set the gold standard of animal fantasy today that doesn’t follow the clan-based warfare tradition set by the late Brian Jacques’ “Redwall” or the multi-faceted/multi-series feral cat clan epic “Warriors” franchise by Erin Hunter.

As much as I love picture books, one of my missions on T.A.A. is to remind people that our love on fantastical fauna tales don’t have to die just because we leave preschool behind, in fact, they should expanded on and re-imagined, and “The Wainscott Weasel” is another jewel in this author’s proverbial crown of literary achievements.


I’m a stickler for stories about offbeat loners and outcasts, so I fell in love with Bagley right away. I was never in love with a fish, mind you, but I had my own “Tragic First Love” story moment that I’m only just starting to make peace with now, but that’s another story I might tell another time…


But like Bagley, I often kept to myself, not always because I wanted to, but because I was painfully shy and awkward with people face-to-face, or to be more positive, in-person socialization skills were/are a work in progress for me.


Also like Bagley, I have a relative who (while I’m not named after) who I struggled to live up to the model she gave me but could not. But again, that’s a whole other story to be told another time…


The late and great Fred Marcelino graced us with some of his BEST work in his short-lived career.


Those who belittle or make light of the skill it takes to create children’s books in particular are simply blind to books such as this one. 


The illustrations in “The Wainscott Weasel” are nothing short fine art. But fine art that’s open to anyone, wherever you live, at any time you wish, and thanks to this reissue, affordable to nearly anyone, and if you’re short on finances, that’s what our libraries are for.


I’d love this book on the merit of the prose and story alone, but Fred’s illustrations brought the Wainscott Woods, and it’s residents to life in visual form, and trust me when I say the gorgeous cover is only the beginning of the art exhibition side by side with literature. 


There’s never been a better time to be a Tor Seidler fan, and especially “The Wainscott Weasel” as it’s reissue is just in time to celebrate the 20th Anniversary


The Wainscott Weasel (Anniversary II)


“The Wainscott Weasel” was originally published in 1994 by an imprint of HarperCollins, and went out of print in 2007, which was around the time my love of books started to grow in earnest, when I first discovered it in .


I most likely purchased one of the last print run of paperbacks, it was so freshly printed, there was a mark of ink that hadn’t dried when it arrived at my doorstep.


I’ve long wanted to recommend this book, but because it was out of print, it was hard to find, and would go for tons of money on eBay, it would be out of reach of many people, unless their library had a copy of the previous printing from its original publisher.


FirstbornSo, I’m so grateful that Kate Wilson (one of my writer friends) led me to an article where I learned that this wonderful book was being reprinted (also available in ebook form for the first time!), and not only that, but author Tor Seidler was releasing his next novel, “Firstborn(illustrated by Chris Sheban) coming out in early 2015, and you can bet your lit. rat will be reviewing that in good time! 









Gully's Travels


His most recent novel was

“Gully’s Travels”

(illustrated by Brock Cole) released September 1st, 2008.












Mean Margaret


His book “Mean Margret” (Illustrated by Jon Agee) was a National Book Award Finalist back in 1997 and, also was recently re-issued by Atheneum Books for Young Readers.









Check out our fan book trailer for 

“The Wainscott Weasel”



If you’ve read “The Wainscott Weasel” in it’s previous lifetime, please share your favorite characters, memories, and scenes in the comments below, but PLEASE be spoiler-free to respect the newcomers to this book. The Literary Rat thanks you in advance.


You can also share your thoughts to our active Twitter community using the hashtag- #BackToWainscott


(@TAA_Editor is our Twitter Handle)


That’s it for Weekly Readings. See you next time!


NOTE FROM THE LITERARY RAT: If my ramblings convinced you to buy (or pre-order) one or more of the books mentioned above, please support T.A.A. by clicking on the affiliate cover images above or links within the review(s).



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Weekly Readings XI

Weekly Readings XI (11) - TRANS

 Welcome to another addition of “Weekly Readings”


For those new here, Weekly Readings is when your lit. rat reviews books I’ve read here and there.


While T.A.A. focuses on animal stories, we do give humans their due now and again…



This week, we have a trio of friendship stories from varying perspectives…


-From a bear who’s headgear attracts some unlikely comrades.


-To a little elephant who finds his place in the “Big City.”


-Finally, a blue octopus whose outlook on life doesn’t match his color.


Mr. Brown's Fantastic Hat BIG

Mr. Brown’s Fantastic Hat

by Ayano Imai (今井 綾野)

Publisher: minedition

Pub. Date: September 1st, 2014



If Bear (from the Bear and Mouse series) had a persnickety distant cousin, I’d wager it’d be Mr. Brown, who rather keep to himself, but expresses it via body and language and stern looks to onlookers versus his more verbally charged ursine counterpart.


He takes great pride in his signature hat, which is over three times taller than the furry chap who’s wearing it!


One day, Mr. Brown is alarmed to find a flock a birds have taken roost in his prized hat, from there chaos ensues as Mr. Brown’s attempts to be rid of the feathered fiends proves more and more futile, and inadvertently creates his town’s latest fashion craze.


By this point, Mr. Brown finds himself quite fond of his loyal flock.


As the days went by, and the seasons changed, the bear and his hat-nest of birds grew that little bit closer.


When the birds fly south, Mr. Brown sinks into despair, just when he finally had friends he at first didn’t know he wanted, they’ve left as abruptly as they had first arrived.


Will the fine-feathered flock return to Mr. Brown and his fantastic headgear home?


Ayano Imai’s artwork immediately drew me to this book.


While picture books are famous for bright primary colors or flamboyant pastels, it’s a nice change of pace to see a more subtle and muted palate of earth tone colors and thoughtful plays with light and shadow at play in this book.


If you loved the more muted tones common in Maurice Sendak’s books, this book continues that tradition.


“Mr. Brown’s Fantastic Hat” is more then what the title first suggests, it’s not just about a loner bear and his best hat, but also how new friends can enter our lives in abnormal ways, and a gentle reminder not to take friendships (however short-lived) for granted.






Little Ellitor, BIG CITY


Little Elliot, BIG CITY

by Mike Curato (@MikeCurato)

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.

Pub. Date: Aug 26th, 2014


There’s something about cities in books that have this transcendent quality, be they real such as Chicago, Paris, and New York City.


Or the (I wish were real) locales such as Richard Scary’s Busy Town, Geronimo Stilton’s home of New Mouse City, or Pinchester from Michael Hoeye’s Hermux Tantamoq series (I will keep mentioning this series every chance I get until more people read/discuss it-LOL!)



The city in this book serves a visual metaphor of how lost one can feel in the place you call home.


Elliot is a little elephant feeling all too small for his big city home, even home life is tricky to manage when even famously “Mini” New York City apartments are BEYOND roomy if your Elliot’s size.


When Elliot goes out, he’s always dodging crowds of native city dwellers, tourists, street vendors, the list goes on, even buying a “Cheer Me Up” cupcake is trial in adversity when you can’t even reach the sales counter.


One day, Elliot helps someone even smaller than him out of a tight spot, what happens next will make Little Elliot’s BIG CITY world get a lot smaller, in the most pleasant sense of the world.


On this note, I have to digress a bit, but it is in relation to this book. When I first discovered Mike Curato in a very unorthodox way.


I was (BRIEFLY) considering self-publishing my middle grade novel “GABRIEL” when I was have little success enticing agents, and when I was last and active member of SCBWI (The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), I was searching an index of illustrators, and Mike Curato was one of the first who caught my eye.


Eventually I realized I didn’t yet have the skills (or finances) to do it in a way that I’d be proud of, but I remembered the illustrator ever since…


I think I might’ve seen an early concept of a scene in “Little Elliot BIG CITY” though I didn’t know that then.


Fast Forward to Spring 2014 when I heard about the book on Twitter, I knew I HAD to check it out, and even before I finished this review you’re reading now, I HAD to create one of my now “famous” fan book trailers (which you can see below…)


All in all, “Little Elliot BIG CITY” is another solid book in a long running tradition of city tales with stunning art and reminds us all why cupcakes are ALWAYS in our hearts and bellies, whether they’re trendy or not. Period.



 Check out our fan book trailer for “Little Elliot, BIG CITY”


Here’s the OFFICIAL created by the publisher-

Which trailer do you like best?

Or what do you like about both trailers?

Share in the comments below!

Last, but FAR from least, your lit. rat gives a retrospective on a character with a origin story as unique as the world he inhabits-



by Dan Yaccarino

Publisher: Atheneum 

(Imprint of Simon & Schuster 


Pub. Date: April 3rd, 2001


I’m one of those folks who LOVES origin stories well told, and for old and new fans of the animated series, this book is essentially the origin story of not only Oswald and Weenie’s arrival, but almost every friend and neighbor we meet on the show.

Sadly, it’s out of print, but worth hunting down (Special Thanks to The Bookbeat for having the copy I bought weeks back), but you can get the audio version on Audible, which is a bit since for picture books visuals are over HALF the experience, but at least it’s easily available and used copies of the book can be as high as 80 USD, but I got my copy for WAY less, so keep hunting, and see if you library has a copy.


Thankfully, the show still lives on via streaming and digital download, and if you weren’t a kid (or had them back when the show debuted in 2001) go watch it, there are few programs with the kind of gentle charm that’s organic and unabashedly comforting.

Learn what is up to now in his upcoming interview on

“KidLit TV” a new joint multimedia initiative created by the kidlit community, for the kid-lit community, launching November 2014, T.A.A. will bring you more info as it nears launch.

That’s all for Weekly Readings. See you next time!

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Weekly Readings (Malice and Masquerade Edition)

Weekly Readings (Malice and Masquerade Edition 2014)

Welcome one and all to another edition of 

Weekly Readings!

For those new here, Weekly Readings is when your lit. rat reviews books I’ve read here and there.


While T.A.A. focuses on animal stories, we do give humans their due now and again… 


While this edition of “Weekly Readings” is in honor of Halloween, it’s less about the vamps, witches and werewolves, and more about the dressing up-






There's a Wolf at the Door


There’s a Wolf at the Door (Five Classic Tales)

by Zoё B. Alley

Illustrated by R.W. Alley

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (Division of Macmillan Children’s )

Pub. Date: September 30th, 2008


Hey, I said there weren’t stories about WEREwolves, not wolves period…


As the subtitle implies, this book is a retelling of five classic fairy tales from the Grimm’s school of thought, but what makes this different is that titular lupine dressed to the nines is the through-line connecting these five (usually stand alone) stories.



whereas most fairy retellings (including your lit. rat’s e-publication “Crocodile Flint“) the wolf of “3 Little Pigs” fame is not necessarily be the SAME wolf from “Little Red Riding Hood” or the lesser known “Goslings” story.


In this book, one wolf does it all,  with some expected results, brought about in a new humorous bent.


Well, for the reader, anyway…


As you might guess from the cover credits, like the Grimm bros. original tales, this book’s a family affair between author Zoё B. and illustrator R.W. Alley, who’s illustrated the iconic Paddington Bear (soon to be a motion picture later in 2014) and countless other books, including one of my favorite finds of the year, “Ballerino Nate(written by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley) that I reviewed a ways back.


The comic panel presentation is not a mere gimmick, but a clever and fun twist to the Grimm’s stories, and occasionally a subtle “4th wall breaking” snip of wit from our dapper anti-hero addressing the reader directly, a plot technique which sometimes puts me off as a reader but it works here.


With R.W.’s delightfully old-fashioned style, Zoё B.’s lively text mixed with contemporary comic panel format is a winning combo, and is the picture book equivalent of the various “Shakespeare” graphic novels for older readers, making classics more accessible/appealing to the modern pre-reader, and a great early non-superhero alternative introduction to reading in comic/graphic novel format.


When I first discovered this book years ago (when it first came out in 2008) the wolf’s outfit stayed with me for YEARS until I finally had the chance to get my own copy of the book a few weeks ago.


Like I said in my review of “Big Mean Mike” this book took WAY longer to get crossed off my “To Be Read” list than I intended, but it was so worth the wait, and not only the book itself, This is one of those rare few anti-heroes I’d like to spend time with (and feed him something you can’t hunt for), or at the very least, I want his outfit!


I’m actually looking for pieces to recreate it! So far I’ve only found the ascot and red jacket, I’ll keep you posted on when I finally get it put together. But that’s another story I’ll tell another time…



Now from a wolf who’s as hungry as he is dapper, to a dog who simply revels in the fun of dress up-


Milo Is Not A Dog Today


Milo is Not a Dog Today

by Kerstin Schoene

Illustrated by Nina Gunetsreiner

(U.S.)Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company (@AlbertWhitman)

Pub. Date: September 2014


Unlike the anti-hero  in review above, Milo is the mild-mannered canine sweetie who (unlike most dogs) LOVES to dress up, and he pretends to be everything from a ladybug (or ladybird for you Brits), a , most of his animal acquaintances don’t “get it” and find him more than a bit odd…


Thankfully, Milo happily does his own thing for his own personal amusement, but eventually meets a new friend who also loves to play dress-up, just like him!


That’s all for Weekly Readings,  have a happy and safe Halloween, see you next time!

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Weekly Readings X

 Weekly Readings X (10)

Welcome one and all to another edition of Weekly Readings!


For those new here, Weekly Readings is when your lit. rat reviews books I’ve read here and there.


While T.A.A. focuses on animal stories, we do give humans their due now and again…


Last week, we did our first leap in to middle grade novels after spending the last two years establishing our picture book reviews, but this week we’re back to picture books.



This week, T.A.A.’s going “Back to School” with some books for the young scholar (or scholars) in your life.



We originally meant to time this with the start of the (U.S.) 2014-2015 school year.


But life and tech happens, and hey, sometimes “Better late than never” is NOT the worst thing in the world! (Just a word to the wise and SANE from your lit. rat)



In this double feature review session, we’ve got a tried and true dynamic duo who’ve earned their honors, and a freshman fighting for the right to read who’d make recent Nobel Peace Prize winner, Malala Yousafzai proud-


A Library Book For Bear


A Library Book For Bear

by Bonny Becker

Illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton

Publisher: Candlewick Press (@Candlewick)

Pub. Date: July 22nd, 2014


The curmudgeonly ursine and unflappable rodent have been charming and cracking up readers since their inaugural outing, “A Visitor for Bear” WAY back in 2008-



A Visitor For Bear



Thankfully, the dawn of the “Great Recession”

didn’t take this duo out with it.


As the title of this recent installment implies, we’re heading to one your lit. rat’s favorite places, but guess who’s not yet jazzed about the concept…

As usual, set in his ways Bear thinks he has all the books he needs at home. (Something my grandma might wish was my mindset, given the MANY books in this lit. rat’s private library, without actually having a dedicated library room…)


But ever the patient “Agony Uncle”Mouse tries to get his grumpy buddy bear (not to be confused with THE Grumpy Bear of “Care Bears” fame) to take a bite out of the literary melting pot we lovingly call: the library!


Once again, author Bonny Becker (who wrote one of my fave under-appreciated novels, “Holbrook – A Lizard’s Tale“) and illustrator Kady MacDonald Denton team up for the 5th time reminding readers young and old that libraries ROCK!


Another way you can support authors you love, while feeding your reader addiction even when you’re on a tighter budget than you’d like.


It’s also important for those of us more able to buy books to help our libraries out by donating new or gently used copies, especially library systems like my hometown of Detroit, Michigan (aka T.A.A. HQ),that’s so cash strapped even titles from just LAST YEAR (of the book’s pub. date) aren’t available in the system.


Which often means I can’t always find books I want to read and/or review via DPL (Even through inter-library loan).


It’s something I plan to take action on for 2015, more on that in the near future…


Out next title is the new kid on the block (not the musical group) that I’m so psyched to share-



Rufus Goes To School

Rufus Goes to School

by Kim T. Griswell

Illustrated by Valeri Gorbachev

Publisher: Sterling Children’s Books (@SterlingBooks)

Pub. Date: August 6th, 2013



Rufus Leroy Williams III (you can just call him Rufus) is a little piglet, with a BIG, yet simple dream-


To read his favorite book, that at the moment he only can follow from the pictures.


Rufus decides to send himself to school so he can learn to read.


But has a heck of a time convincing the principal to let him attend.


He seems to confuse earnest pig Rufus for “The Big Bad Wolf” of Grimm’s fame, not in the man-eating sense, but thinking him more a preordained bully than potential scholar, thankfully Rufus remains unflappable in his quest to attend school.


How does he win this misguided principal over? You’ll have to read

and find out.


Valeri Gorbachev’s illustrations have this warm, unassuming charm matching well with Kim’s narrative, using repetition and rhythm to great effect.


The warm tone to the illustrations reminds me of the late and great Fred Marcelino, and dare I say, the legendary Richard Scarry, but his style’s all his own.

Swinebert and Dempsey Title Cover #2

Given the piggy nature of this book, I’ve asked Swinebert Glockchester (from T.A.A. FM’s “Swinebert & Dempsey”) to share his thoughts on the book-



Swinebert: This book reminds me of my nephew Trug’s first day of school-


He’s in 4th grade now, but when he first went to school, he was just as eager as Rufus to learn to read. 


Thankfully his school was open to him from the start, though Trug told me the janitor looked at him in a “Scary Mean” way whenever he saw him.


Apparently, he’d been told the myth that pigs are always messy and smelly slobs that would make his job all the harder.


Let me make one thing clear, it’s true we pigs like to get messy and muddy, but we’re not all slobs in every circumstance, and as far as Trug and me, we know there’s a time and place to be muddy and a time to be clean and neat, and at school (especially a human/nonhuman school like Trug’s) it’s best to be clean and neat!


SWINEBERT (YOUTH)That said, I went to an all piglet school when I lived on a ranch outside of New York City, and we did have a “Mud Bath” period, but we always showered off afterwards.






(Swinebert  in the flush of youth)


Reading “Rufus Goes to School” brought back all those memories of Trug’s (and yours truly) first days of school: the good times, bad times, sad times, and all the times in-between.



Swinebert (Grown Up 1.5)

Uncle Swinebert's Signature (FINAL)













Follow  Swinebert (and his feline pal, Dempsey) on Twitter via @Swinebert_and_D


facebook-346725←They’re also on Facebook!




That’s it for Weekly Readings. See you next



NOTE FROM THE LITERARY RAT: If my ramblings convinced you to buy one or more of the books mentioned above, please support T.A.A. by clicking on the affiliate cover images above or links within the review(s).

Squeak This Out to your fellow Animal Fantasy Fanatics!Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedIn

Weekly Readings (Stanley & Katrina Edition)

Weekly Readings (Stanley & Katrina Edition)


Welcome to another edition of 

Weekly Readings! 


Usually, Weekly Readings is when your lit. rat reviews a mix of picture books I’ve read here and there.


Stan and Katrina 2014

This week is a special edition of Weekly Readings, because we’re spotlighting two new voices in the fantastical fauna landscape who’ll be stopping by T.A.A. as part of their “Book Blasty Tour.” 

Up to now, we’ve only reviewed picture books so far on T.A.A, but Weekly Readings is slowly expanding into middle grade (and some YA) novels, and we’re kicking that off right now-


Stanley and Katrina 1-2

The Perpetual Papers of the Pack of Pets/The Observations of the Obstreperous Animals

(Stanley & Katrina Books 1 and 2)

by Stanley & Katrina (@StanleyNKatrina)

Illustrated by Miro Chun

Katrina von Cat, The Master of Wisdom and knowledge, is used to being the center of her universe, but since the arrival of scrappy dog Stanley, Katrina’s universe has been starkly realigned, and she’s not happy about it!


Throw in the, aspiring astronaut, quirky alien obsessed  Guinea pig next door, “Mr.  Fluffypants” (but rather you address him as Zorg), and you’ve got recipe for mayhem, misadventures, and Shenanigans that make the legendary “Tom and Jerry” look like bosom buddies. 


(Though thankfully, neither Stan nor Katrina can wield branding irons, swords or anvils at each other [far as I know], as I’m pretty sure their pet insurance doesn’t cover pet on pet warfare…)


Given the pet-centric trappings of these books, I decided I needed to get the pet perspective, and who better than T.A.A. FM’s own canine-feline duo, Guido & Bonnie (@GuidoandBonnie) to share their thoughts on the books-






First up, I’ve got to say I’m the luckiest dog in the world, I’ve got a great home, stellar food, and I actually love hanging with my feline right-paw, Bonnie, and reading the funny and offbeat misadventures of Stanley and Katrina reminds of how lucky I am.


Stanley, I know you and Katrina have issues co-mingling, and I so get it. When Bonnie and I first met, we did not get along, either.


But we found ways to make it work, and I’ll share with you (and any other internet-savvy dogs out there) some tips on inter-species bonding-


1. Find ONE thing you like about your pet roomie

(and ask yourself why)


For me, I like that Bonnie keeps me grounded, but still lets me express my craziest (and sometimes brilliant) ideas.

Because we wouldn’t be in the pet advice/entertaining business had we not met, and Bonnie was hesitant to put herself out there after being burnt out in her short stint as a show cat in the pageant circuit.


Having gone through it yourself you know it’s not for everyone.

The best part about working on our upcoming show is that we work with our team, we don’t have to dress up if we don’t want to, and we can set our own hours and pace.


You might want to ask Taurean J. Watkins (who works with Bonnie and me) about working with T.A.A.  (He’s a very accommodating director/producer, always on the lookout for talent, he works a bit slow, but it’s always worth the wait!) Okay, back to the tips-


2. When you have a fight, try to see it from their POV (Point of



This is common trait among writers such as ourselves, but also makes sense in relationships, especially inter-species relationships.


Bonnie likes to be laid back and pragmatic.


Whereas I’m the take charge, balls to the wall, Go-Getter type!


While that definitely leads to disagreement, we also benefit from it.


Bonnie’s learned from me to be a little more daring, and I learned from her to be more methodical in my ambitions.


We learned from each other the best parts of our POVs which might otherwise really annoy us about each other to better our relationship.


You and Katrina can do that, too.  


3. Meet Each Other Half Way

Even though Bonnie and me are friends now, we also have things about each other that still get our dander up (and for us pets with fur, that play on words is SERIOUS business!)


That’s why we best describe our friendship as B.F.F.Bs


(Meaning: Best Friends Forever with Boundaries)


Setting up boundaries is vital for ANY relationship. but especially with those we spend the most time working and/or living with.


Since Bonnie and I live AND work together, we make the effort to respect the others quirks and ticks (and NOT the kind we call 1-800-

PetMeds for, LOL!)


Bonnie likes to be as laid back and centered as possible, where I’m the happy-go-lucky, hyper-emotional type.


So when we both want to do something together, but can’t agree on how to do it, we meet halfway, so we each get a little of what we want. Hope those tips help you out, Stan (is it okay if I call you “Stan?”)








Bonnie SignatureLike Guido said above, I too have a lot to be thankful for, my home, the great food, and my girl Andrea (the daughter of Guido’s human), and I’m equally thankful for Guido.

Katrina, I know living a dog can be vexing at times, and Guido and I do have our share of issues, but what makes our friendship work is that while we learned to enjoy being together, we need our time apart. 


Often the hardest part about our friendship is that our (Same species) friends and family don’t get it.


My mom and Granny (my mom’s mom) are are très [very] Traditional when it comes to dogs.


They’re our sworn, genetic enemies and we must never submit to them! Whenever they come to visit us, Guido leaves the house howling in terror!


Keep in mind, this the same dog who once took a beating to protect yours truly from being catnapped by pet smugglers a few years back!

So he’s no coward, he just can’t stand the species bigotry comments my mom and Granny hiss out at Guido’s expense.


I know they had horrid experiences with dogs as kittens, but I wish they’d see Guido’s different.


You seem to share this view, Katrina, at least where Stanley’s concerned, but you do get on with this Henry, so perhaps you do see it can be on a canine by canine basis.


My kitty siblings and my dad are more accepting toward Guido.


By contrast, Guido’s doggy relations (outside his mother) have embraced me as one of their own, in fact, one his Guido’s brothers has a serious crush on me! (Secretly between us fellow felines, if he were a cat, I’d be so into him, but since he’s not, I don’t want to encourage him…)


Learn more about Stanley and Katrina at their OFFICIAL website: 


Also, don’t forget to subscribe to their YouTube Channel, where you can find their Paw-some “Word of the Week” video series, in fact your lit. rat did one with Guido and Bonnie-


Finally, check out the fan book trailer we made to help spread the Good Word on Stanley and Katrina’s books- 



Oh ONE LAST THING: Stanley and Katrina

are having a Rafflecopter giveaway you can

enter below-


a Rafflecopter giveaway





That’s it for Weekly Readings. See you next time!


NOTE FROM THE LITERARY RAT: If my ramblings convinced you to buy one or more of the books mentioned above, please support T.A.A. by clicking on the affiliate cover images above or links within the review(s).

Squeak This Out to your fellow Animal Fantasy Fanatics!Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedIn