Welcome one and all to another edition of
Normally, your lit. rat reviews a range of books solo, but seeing as today is “National Pig Day” T.A.A.’s favorite pig, Swinebert Glockchester (from “Swinebert & Dempsey”) will be taking over today and shares some of his favorite books, and reprises some of our previous reviews.
Hamlet and the Tales of Sniggery Woods
by Maggie Kneen
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Pub. Date: May 26th, 2009
This is a charming collection of stories about a gentile pig who despite the Shakespearean roots of his name, takes inspiration not in the theatre world, but the world of culinary arts and runs a cooking school, Maggie Kneen’s illustrations undoubtedly hearken back to a time when the forefathers and fore-mothers of animal fantasy were just getting started.
I wish there were more books set in the charming world of Sniggery Woods, but even if this remains a one and done, we got a nice day visit, and I encourage anyone who loves short reads and old school charm give it a read.
Mary Had A Little Ham
by Margie Palatini
Illustrated by Guy Francis
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (@DisneyHyperion)
Pub. Date: September 2nd, 2003
NOTE FROM THE LITERARY RAT: This is a re-post of our original review of “Mary Had A Little Ham”
Even the shyest souls among us have at times dreamed of life in the spotlight, even your lit. rat likes to pretend he’s a famous actor or performer of some kind.
In some ways my upcoming podcast imitative “T.A.A. FM” will give me the chance to in some small way live that fantasy, but with my voice more so than my face, but more on that later, now onto the review…
As the title suggests, this is a retelling of the vintage nursery rhyme “Mary Had A Little Lamb” but recast to star a pig by the name of Stanley Snoutowski who leaves his home on the farm to chase the siren song of stardom.
Illustrator Guy Francis left nothing to chance, using every page spread from cover to cover, crease to corner, and dedication to end papers, to invoke the spirit of Old Hollywood at it’s best.
While also depicting the lows of our swine-tastic protagonist on his way from humble beginnings to the big time, part of which is chronicled via the old school snail mail between, and his girl, named, you guessed it–Mary, alongside Margie’s spare but effective prose.
My friend Swinebert Glockchester (of Swinebert and Dempsey fame) has a dad who worked in the movies as an actor, and when I shared the story with him, he said-
“This pig fits my Pa to a T, when he was just getting started in show business. Hope Dempsey and me do as well with our endeavors.”
You will, S.B. I’ll do my best to make sure of that. Classic movie buffs and starry eyed thespians alike will find much humor and unabashed optimism abound in “Mary Had A Little Ham.” On that note: Here’s looking at you, Stanley!
Rufus Goes to School
by Kim T. Griswell
Illustrated by Valeri Gorbachev
Publisher: Sterling Children’s Books (@SterlingBooks)
Pub. Date: August 6th, 2013
NOTE FROM THE LITERARY RAT: This is a re-post of our original review of “Rufus Goes To School”
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.
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.
(«Swinebert’s Nephew, Trug Glockchester)
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!
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.
P.S: I can’t wait for the next book “Rufus Goes To Sea” Coming April 2015
Before I go, check out the video I did with Bonnie
(from T.A.A. FM’s “Guido & Bonnie“) as part of a fan tribute to Carolyn Crimi’s “Dear Tabby”
That’s it for Weekly Readings.
See you next time!
FINAL 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).