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.

Picture Book Month 2014: Future Releases

 TAA Picture Book 2014 FB

As “Picture Book Month” come to a close for another year, it’s time to unveil T.A.A.’s “Most Anticipated Reads of 2015!


A Penguin Named Patience  (A Hurricane Katrina Rescue Story)

A Penguin Named Patience

(A Hurricane Katrina Rescue Story)

by Suzanne Lewis 

Illustrated by Lisa Anchin

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press 

Pub. Date: February 1st, 2015

2015 will the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

and while there’s still a long road to recovery for many day to day, we’ve also seen great stories of survival and rebirth of lives most impacted by the devastation the storms left during and after’s it’s wake.

This picture book tells the story 

T.A.A. will do something special in remembrance of this disaster, and also something to help keep their recovery on track.

We’ll have more info in the coming year, and if you want to be among the first to know our plans, please sign up for our mailing list on the right side of this site!



by Helen Docherty

Illustrated by Thomas Docherty

(U.K.) Publisher: Scholastic Press

Pub. Date: February 5th, 2015


The husband-wife team behind “The Snatchabook” team up again for another magical adventure.


Learn more about Helen and Thomas in our Picture Book Month 2013 coverage 


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

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


Also, check out your lit. rat’s review of their last book together, “The Snatchabook”


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!)

 UPDATE: Here’s Our Review of “Abracazebra”

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.


Big Pet Day

Big Pet Day

by Lisa Shanahan

Illustrated by Gus Gordon (@IllustratorGus)

(U.S./U.K.) Publisher: Scholastic Press

Pub. Date: January 1st, 2015

It’s no secret T.A.A. LOVES pet stories, but with so many awesome ones, it takes really special ones to stand out from the countless classics, but I have confidence this is will be an exceptional one. It doesn’t hurt that Gus Gordon’s charming illustrations sweeten the deal for this lit. rat.

If you haven’t already, check out T.A.A.’s Author/Illustrator Spotlight on Gus Gordon!

Also, check out your lit. rat’s review of Gus’ “Herman and Rosie”



Crickey and Cat

Crikey and Cat

by Chris Mckimmie

(U.S.) Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Pub. Date: May 1st, 2015

We’re trying to review more books that star or feature cats on T.A.A. I may the lit. rat, but not all cats hunt rodents such myself anymore, and hey, we’ve got plenty of fab felines that deserve T.A.A.’s spotlight.





I Thought This Was A Bear Book

by Tara Lazar (@taralazar)

Illustrated by Benji Davies (@Benji_Davies)

Publisher: Aladdin

Pub. Date: August, 2015


The author of “The Monstore” (2013) and founder of PiBoIdMo (Pie-Beau-Id-Moe), Tara Lazar is back with a new book where the three bears meet alien abduction, nicely drawn by illustrator Benji Davies. (The Storm Whale)


Check out Tara Lazar’s interview with Katie Davis on “Brain Burps About Books”


Also check out our spotlight feature on Tara and James Burks (illustrator of “The Monstore” and author-illustrator of his own books)



Last Stop On Market Street

by Matt de la Peña (@mattdelapena)

Illustrated by Christian Robinson

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

(Imprint of Penguin Books USA)

Pub. Date: January 8th, 2015


While we mostly cover animal stories on T.A.A. we do give humans their due, and with the ever-increasing outcry for more diverse humans in children’s books (as well as behind the scenes in publishing) we’re honored to bring this book to your attention.



The book’s illustrator, Christian Robinson,  illustrated one of your lit. rat’s favorite books of the year, “Gaston” (written by Kelly DiPucchio) which T.A.A. will be reviewing soon!

UPFATE: Check Out Our Review of “Gaston”

Chris also illustrated “Josephine” released in 2013, and has done animation work that’s appeared on Sesame Street (Which recently celebrated PBS’ 45th anniversary)


Otter in Space

Otter in Space (@i_am_otter)

by Sam Garton (@SamuelGarton)

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

(An Imprint of HarperCollins)

Pub. Date: May 5th, 2015


T.A.A.’s favorite otter returns with her latest adventure, which as you can tell from the cover alone, involves intergalactic exploration, or at least the closest thing you can get without being trained by NASA, or going to space camp!


Learn more about Otter, play fun games, and read exclusive web stories (complete with picture!) at her OFFICIAL website: iamotter.co.uk


Also, check out our Author/Illustrator spotlight for “Picture Book Month 2014”


If you haven’t checked out Otter’s first book (one of our first “Most Anticipated Reads”), check your lit. rat’s review! Finally, please share this teaser video (made by your lit. rat) to help spread the word, and rest assured it’s Otter Approved!

 (Otter in Space Teaser Video)



Bears Don't Read

Bears Don’t Read!

by Emma Chichester Clark


Pub. Date: TBA 2015

One of my favorite authors is bringing us a double feature in 2015 One of which involves a bear who doesn’t yet know the joy and empowerment reading has to offer.


Check our Author/Illustrator Spotlight on Emma!

Finally, read your lit.rat’s review of “Melrose and Croc: A Christmas To Remember”





by Emma Chichester Clark


Pub. Date: TBA 2015

One of my favorite authors is bringing us a double feature in 2015! One of those books is “Plumdog” and while I’m still a bit down over the loss of my beloved Pepper back in June 2014, I’m still reading my share of dog books,  they’re healing, and after a drought of new voices in the picture book canine district, I have a strong feeling Plum will fit right in, the fact that she reminds me of Pepper in some ways is an added bonus.


I know Guido (my canine friend from T.A.A. FM’s “Guido & Bonnie” [@GuidoandBonnie]) is just as psyched as I am for Plum’s debut in America! 

There Was An Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight

There Was an Old Dragon

Who Swallowed a Knight

by Penny Parker Klostermann (@pklostermann)

Illustrated by Ben Mantle

Publisher: Random House Children’s Books


Pub. Date: August 4th, 2015


There’s been many a tale of an old man, woman, and even a coyote who swallowed something they shouldn’t have. Now in a Ye Olde twist to a long remixed tale, we’ve got a dragon who finally bests a knight through feasting him.

How will this pan out?

We’ll find out Summer 2015!



WOLFIE the Bunny

by Ame Dyckman  (@AmeDyckman)

Illustrated by Zachariah OHora 


Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers

Pub. Date: February 17th, 2015


Author Ame Dyckman, best known for her books “Boy+Bot” (illustrated by Dan Yaccarino) and “Tea Party Rules” (illustrated by K.G. Campbell) teams up with author-illustrator Zachariah OHara (of “No Fits, Nelson!” fame)


This is one of those books that has caught my eye on the merit of the title/cover alone, and I can’t wait to have this book in my paws, and review it for you, my precious readers.


UPDATE: Check out our review of

“Wolfie the Bunny”

Your lit. rat hopes you’ve enjoyed our special features and author/illustrator spotlights we did this year. We’ll have more fun goodies in store for our Holiday Showcase starting this week!


Until next time, may the fantastic fauna be with you.


P.S. One Last Video the lit. rat hope you watch and share-