Weekly Readings XIV

Weekly Readings 14 (FINAL 2)


Welcome 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…


This week, we’ve got three charming dog tales, and a love story set to the backdrop of a dance-off. Essentially we’re talking “Romeo and Juliet” (minus the death), mixed with “So You Think You Can Dance” meets “Dancing with the Stars(minus the judges for both)








A Perfect Place for Ted

A Perfect Place for Ted

by Leila Rudge

Publisher: Candlewick Press (@Candlewick)

Pub. Date: June 24th, 2014


Ted, like most dogs, wants a home, and after being passed over time and again in the pet store, decides to take matters into his own paws.


With only the green jumper* (*Lingo for “Sweater”) on his back, and a dream in his heart, Ted embarks on a quest to find his “Ever After” home!  


He tries getting hired by a circus, but doesn’t make the cut, to being a show dog on the pageant circuit, but isn’t able to stand out from the competition. Finally, he takes a stab at being a guard dog, but isn’t assertive enough…


Ted starts to wonder if there is a “Perfect Place”

for him to call home…


Author-Illustrator Leila Rudge uses a classic watercolor style, warm color palette, and subtle line art to bring Ted’s earnest journey to life.


Despite the potential issues of giving someone a real pet for their birthday or the holidays, dog lovers should have no qualms whatsoever gifting “A Perfect Place for Ted” to the pet parents in your life.


Check Out Our Fan Book Trailer For

“A Perfect Place For Ted”





by KellyDiPucchio (@kellydipucchio)

Illustrated by Christian Robinson

Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers 

(Imprint of Simon & Schuster

[@SimonKIDS] |[@simonschuster] )

Pub. Date: June 3rd, 2014


I LOVE the retro-inspired art style employed by illustrator Christian Robinson, helping stand out from the many hyper-technicolor titles on the book shelf, but speaks to the retro-naunt in me and others.

Kids from adoptive or blended families will find a relatable friend in the titular canine’s story of being comfortable in your own skin (or fur, in his case), even when those closest to you don’t “get it” right away. 


(Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” – Platinum Edition DVD cover)

It’s hard not to hear the name “Gaston” without thinking about the machismo meat-head from the Disney version of “Beauty and the Beast”, of whom, in my opinion is among the most normal* sleazebag of the varying antagonists from the 90s’ era. 

(*In this context, normal meaning not having powers of some kind)

But happily this Gaston is one I can get behind. 

I’m not going to sing it, but…I want a DOG like Gaston…



The Driftwood Ball

The Driftwood Ball

by Thomas Docherty

(U.K.) Publisher: Templar Publishing

(U.K.) Pub. Date: January 1st, 2014


In addition to collaborating with his wife and fellow author Helen (See our profile on them from our Picture Book Month 2013 author/illustrator spotlight), author-illustrator Thomas Docherty brings us his most recent solo outing about family feuds, high stakes dance offs, and true love, what more can a lit. rat need?


On one side you’ve got badgers, who are prim, proper and composed, in dance terms they’re like a waltz. Form and technique are everything!


The otters by contrast are cool, casual, and thrive on improvisation, in dance they represent freestyle, with some hip-hop thrown in here and there. Whatever’s fun and flowing!


The Badgers find the otters crude and their dancing unrefined.


The otters think badgers are snobbish, wound too tight, and their dance moves stiff and soulless.


The only thing both species agree on is their love of dancing, but while “The Driftwood Ball” brings the two species together, competition and rivalry keep them apart in every way.


Until Celia (an otter) and George (a badger) meet in secret and have different ideas…


George likes how free and soulful the otters move,  and Celia’s enchanted by the composed technique of the badgers dancing, and the two soon learn to dance a little bit like the other, until they create a dance style all their own, and fall in love…


When titular dance-off “The Driftwood Ball” begins, the feuding species are stunned to find Celia and George dancing together, a first for this bitter rivalry charged event, and from there a new normal takes hold that I won’t spoil here…


What I love most about Thomas Docherty is how he tailors his illustration style for each of his books, be they his own, or when visualizing another author’s work.


While there some slight nods to the style used in “The Snatchabook” his previous book (written by his wife, Helen) this book is about movement and a more tropical color palette, versus the Seuss-inspired two-tone impressionistic tone taken in the verse-driven tale.


T.A.A. nominated this book as one of our first “Most Anticipated Reads” back in 2013 (before it’s release) so you may be wondering why it took a year after it published to review it…


The road to reviewing this book is long and complicated, but to give you the abridged version, this book isn’t (YET) out in the U.S., and since T.A.A. HQ is based stateside, your lit. rat didn’t realize that at the time I nominated it this book is still kind of a U.K./Europe exclusive at the time this review is being written…


That’s why I want to give special thanks to my Twitter friend, Anne-Marie (@ChildLedChaos), for sending me a copy from the U.K. You made reviewing this book possible.


I hope “The Driftwood Ball” comes to the rest of the world soon, but while T.A.A. primarily reviews books that are fairly accessible worldwide, our goal is to be as global community as possible, and while many of Thomas Docherty’s older solo picture books solo books are available worldwide, this sadly remains a U.K. exclusive, but when that changes, T.A.A. will let you know. 


That said, for our Euro/U.K. T.A.A. fans, “The Driftwood Ball’s a must-read, especially if you’ve got little movers and groovers in your life!


This book earned the honor of being one of our  “Most Anticipated Reads of 2014”, and if you’ve the spare cash and patience for intercontinental shipping, this is a book worth importing!


The Snatchabook (U.S. and U.K. Edictions) 3

(U.S./U.K. Covers for “The Snatchabook”)

Also, check out our review of

“The Snatchabook” his previous collaboration with his wife and fellow author Helen.

AbracazebraFinally, keep an eye out for their newest book,”Abracazebra” one of our “Most Anticipated Reads of 2015” 







UPDATE (1/21/15): I learned from author Helen Docherty that “Abracazebra” has not yet found a U.S. publisher, so it remains a U.K./Europe exclusive for now, I apologize for the transformation

(I’ll not rely Amazon for release info of international titles again!)

But it’s still one of our “Most Anticipated Reads” and I will still review the book as planned, Helen was kind enough to offer sending us a copy! Thanks Helen! When “Abracazebra” does come stateside, your lit. rat will let you know! But I encourage our U.K. fans to check it out.


Mogie - The Heart of the House


The Heart of the House

by Kathi Appelt

Illustrated by Marc Rosenthal

 Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers

(Imprint of Simon & Schuster)

[@simonschuster]  |  [@SimonKIDS]  

Pub. Date: June 10th, 2014


Kathi Appelt, while best known for her novels The Underneath and the “The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp

(A national Book Award Finalist) she’s also written numerous picture books, and this is the first your lit. rat has read, and definitely NOT the last!


The Underneath and The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp

Illustrator Marc Rosenthal’s charming illustrations uses minimal background detail to highlight our titular furry friend as he offers a friendly paw to one of the many children who misses the days when he ran free in the great outdoors.


On top of being a charming book on it’s own, part of the sales of this book benefits the “Ronald McDonald House” a facility where families with ill and injured children can find a safe haven on their road to recovery, and dogs (like Mogie) are part of the staff as therapy dogs, who in many ways they’re like canine nurses (short of giving shots or cleaning bedpans), offering comfort and a playful distraction from the struggles their young charges face.


One last thing,TAA CARES 3

TAA CARES, our initiative to help authors and other content creators in need is gearing up for our first featured project of 2015.

Bestselling author Laura Numeroff

(“If You Give A Mouse A Cookie”) 

is re-launching her wfb_logo_x2Kickstarter campaign for “Work for Biscuits” a book and multimedia series starring andsupporting service dogs in training and in the field.


If you can, please consider contributing to her funds the first day to help build momentum so the project can successfully fund the second time around. 



Even if you can’t spare the cash, please help me and my fantastic fauna team spread the good word, especially if you or the lit. rattlings in your life are Laura Numeroff fans!

If you’re unversed in the concept of crowdfunding, check out my previous posts on the subject as your lit. rat will be embarking this path for my upcoming middle grade novel “GABRIEL


The Literary Rat’s Crowdfunding Chronicles – Part 1: Overview


The Literary Rat’s Crowdfunding Chronicles – Part 2: Why Crowdfunding?


(You can also chat with Gabriel and  his friend Rum on Twitter via @GabrielandRum)


That’s it for Weekly Readings, check back 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.

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).