Weekly Readings XX

Weekly Readings 20 Banner - Talking Animal Addicts V2 - MINI

Welcome one and all to another edition of Weekly Readings!

 

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 an otter’s intergalactic adventures, a boy who dares to be himself (dress and all), and beauty queen drama-Dino style!

9780062247766-2

Otter in Space (@i_am_otter)

by Sam Garton (@SamuelGarton)

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

(An Imprint of HarperCollins Children’s Books)

Pub. Date: May 5th, 2015

 

While on a trip to the museum, Otter becomes enthralled, (and just so you know, Otter [she comes around here sometimes, and I’m honored], many awesome paintings are made today, post the invention of crayons, just saying…)

But once at the space exhibit, Otter had discovered her newest passion: Space!

 

In particular, a fascination with the moon, and while scoring some stellar souvenirs from the museum’s gift shop, she was unable to get a commemorative moon rock.

Of course, Otter doesn’t give up, and after AGES of deep thought, she has a notion: Why not just snag the real deal?

 

So, with Teddy in tow, Otter begin preparations for her lunar mission…

 

Sam Garton’s illustrations have this warmth and charm about them that ground you in the world.

 

You always feel Otter’s “Always on the Move” spirit on every page.

 

Like in her debut book, Otter tells her story to us, first person POV is rarely used in picture books given it can read awkward;y when the reader is most often a parent or other adult, but like Eloise, it just works, and really, who than Otter herself better to tell us *“Pretty Much” exactly how it happened.

(*Bonus Points if you can guess in the comments what show I’m referencing. Hint, it involves pink hair and “Thinking Big.”) 

It’s no secret T.A.A. LOVES Otter, not just your lit. rat, but our ever growing fantastic fauna team, especially my swine-feline duo, Swinebert Glockchester and Dempsey Woyzeck (from “Swinebert & Dempsey“), here’s what they had to say- 

 

Swinebert (Grown Up 1.5)

Swinebert Glockchester

Yo Chicks and Chickies!

Dempsey and I are big fans of Otter, before we knew of her first book’s release, we met her on Twitter (We’re they’re, too, via @Swinebert_and_D) ,

and from there it’s been history in the making… I’m happy to report Otter’s new book is just as awesome as the first! It also reawakened memories of playing astronaut as a young piglet. I dreamed of being the first pig in space.

I didn’t achieve that dream, but I hope I live to see who will be the first pig in space, and despite certain propaganda on the web stating otherwise, we’ve yet to have pigs in space, may that change someday.

If I hear about the first otter in space, I’ll be sure to let my pal, Otter, know. (*Wink*) 

 

TRUG-2.5

My nephew Trug is a big fan of Otter, too, in fact, he had a MAJOR crush on her, but after bravely sharing his love letter to Otter (and the world), she turned him down, but he’s feeling a lot better about it now. 

 

 

 

DEMPSEY FRAME

 

Dempsey Woyzeck

I have two nieces who LOVE Otter as much as S.B. and I do, and thanks to my knowing her (if only virtually) I’ve been dubbed the

“Cool Uncle.”

 

 

LANGLEY SOLO FINAL

Something my brother Langley,

is super jealous of. (Cackles Evilly….)

Just kidding, Langley, you know we love you!

 

 

 

 

I Am Otter

(Cover For “I Am Otter” by Sam Garton)

Otter’s first book, “I Am Otter” was one of T.A.A.’s first “Most Anticipated Reads” in 2014, our inaugural year.

“Otter in Space” was among our “Most Anticipated Reads of 2015″ , and has proven worthy of this honor. Otter is someone I’m glad to know,

both on Twitter, and on my bookshelf.

 

Check Out “What The ‘Critters’ Say” About “Otter In Space”

Check Out The

OFFICIAL Trailer –

 

Jacob's New Dress

Jacob’s New Dress

Written by Sarah and Ian Hoffman

(@SarahHoffman101)

Illustrated by Chris Case

Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company

(@AlbertWhitman)

Pub. Date: March 1st, 2014

Jacob, like many kids loves to play pretend, and dress-up, being someone else for a time.

What set Jacob apart is that instead of pretending to be dinosaurs, dragons or superheroes, he liked to play princesses, something fellow classmate Christopher (a “typical boy”) doesn’t get, and when kids don’t get something, it’s grounds for ridicule.

 

Luckily for Jacob, his friend and fellow classmate Lily gets him, and at home, he could fully be himself, dress and all.

 

But even when Jacob wasn’t playing the princess, he felt more free in a dress than typical boyish wear.

 

Before I go any further, I want to commend co-authors Sarah and Ian Hoffman for having both courage and the conviction to tell this story, especially as it derived from personal experiences with their son.

 

Illustrator Chris Case really gave the visuals in this book a raw vibrancy that I’m always a fan of book covers that show off the most unique or dare I say, controversial aspects front and center.

 

When I first saw the cover last year I thought, “Work it, Jacob, this is your truth, own it!”

We need more boys like Jacob, to be themselves unapologetically, whatever that looks like for any of us.

See

“What the ‘Critters’ Say”

about “Jacob’s New Dress”

 

 

9781619632639

Tiara Saurus Rex

By Brianna Caplan Sayres (@BriannaSayres)

Illustrated by Mike Boldt (@MikeBoldt)

Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books

(@bloomsburykids)

Pub. Date: Feb 17th, 2015

 

 

The Literary Rat has seen many genre-bending masterpieces in his day.

Everything from heroic weasels, to a wolf raised by rabbits, and canine crooks turned cooks, but of all the books I read last year, “Tiara Saurus Rex” easily stands out among them.

 

Just like “Jacob’s New Dress”, “Tiara Saurus Rex” has a twist, a beauty pageant (a classic storytelling device among girls) starring dinosaurs, often depicted as a boy-centric obsession.

 

I could imagine this is one of the “after hours” activities the offspring of  the “employed dinosaurs” and other prehistoric wildlife from “The Flintstones” might have.

 

Well, I couldn’t see Dino stomping (Or in his case, SPRINTING) on the catwalk, but him being a family pet versus a working critter, that’s understandable…

 

Among the many hopefuls, Tina (the T-Rex diva glamming it up on the cover) is the most confident she’ll win it all, and without spoiling the ending, let’s just say Tina’s got some stiff competition, and through it all, just might make a new friend instead of a bitter rival.

 

Forget shows like “Toddlers in Tiaras” or “Dance Moms” for a moment.

 

Pageants don’t have to be vicious war zones anymore than little league has to be a precursor to your child’s MLB prospects. Nor should it be.

 

With all due respect to serious young athletes who want to go pro, some of us just want to have fun and be fairly fit, okay?

 

I love that this book takes cues from child-centric pageants, and certainly influences of the iconic “Miss America” pageant sneak their way in, but retrofitted for the starlets-in-training, and  Mike Boldt’s illustrations uses a splendid color palette that’s less “pinky” than you might suspect.

 

While I personally don’t have issues with the color pink in general (it’s my second favorite color after red), I know it can be a “touchy subject” for some, wherever you are on the gender spectrum, and I’ll just leave it at that.

 

“Tiara Saurus Rex” does for pageantry what “Dinosaur Train” does for the dino-lovers in general, and the sciences in particular, entertains and delights to the 10th power, and then some.

 

Speaking of Dinosaur Train, I’d think Shiny Pteranodon would ADORE this book if it existed in her era. (Yes I’ve seen the show, so I know her character fairly well, so there! LOL)

Check out the OFFICIAL Trailer For

“Tiara Saurus Rex”

That’s it for Weekly Readings.

Check us next time!

Critter Chat with Swinebert & Dempsey Pt. 2

SD Critter Chat

 

This is part 2 of your lit. rat’s interview with swine-feline duo, Swinebert Glockchester and Dempsey Woyzeck, from T.A.A. FM’s upcoming podcast series, “Swinebert & Dempsey.

 

If you missed it or are new here, read part 1 of this interview. Okay, let’s jump back into it-

Taurean: Can you tell me about your fellow pet friends? What are they like?

 

Swinebert: Sure! We’ve got tons of them, but the ones we’re most tight with our next door neighbors: Clarke, a Jack-Russell mix (OBSESSED with aviation and motorcycles), and his feline roomies, Chuck and Lilac.

 Clark, Chuck and Lilac(Left, Clark, Right, Chuck and Lilac – Neighbors)

Swinebert: There are the squirrels who live in our  backyard. At first, we were enemies after the prize acorns that grow in the many oak trees in our backyard. We’ve long since resolved that and became friends.

 

It took them a lot longer to warm up to Dempsey, his being a cat and all, they worried he’d try to hunt them down, but 

 

THe Backlot Squirrels

 (The Backlot Squirrels – From Left to Right:

Little Wally, Mac, Hazel, and Filbert)

 

Swinebert: We also have plenty of family who live in White Oak Acres. While we of course consider our humans (and their kin) family, I’m talking about our non-human relations-

TRUG-2.5.5

(Swinebert’s Nephew, Trug)

Swinebert: For me there’s my darling nephew, Trug, as our regulars know, and his folks: my brother, Ross, and my sis-in-law, Flair. My Ma, Pa and two kid sisters live back on the ranch where I was born. I video chat with them three times a week, and we visit each other when we can.

 

My Grand-Hog Wes lives at the ranch, too, but he’s always traveling, even at his age, he rarely slows down. I hope I’m that gutsy in my golden years!

 

Dempsey: For me, most of the Woyzeck clan live in various parts of the U.S. and Europe. I  have to give a nod to my Uncle Briggs, my dad’s adoptive hedgehog brother. He lives in another town, but visits us often.

 

Dominic Woyzeck and Briggs Woyzeck II

 (Left, Dominic, Dempsey’s Dad. Right, Dempsey’s Uncle Briggs)

 

On that note, my sister Nina’s also adopted, but she’s not a cat, or a hedgehog-she’s a goat.

The Woyzeck Family

(The Woyzeck  Family – From Left to Right: Dempsey, Langley, Nina, Dominic and Claire)

Dempsey: Here in White Oak Acres there’s my brother, Langley, kid sister Nina, and my parents, Dominic and Claire.

Uncle Doyle and Aunt Moxie

(Left, Uncle Doyle, Right, Aunt Moxie)

Dempsey: In Summer 2014, during me and S.B.’s world tour holiday, I got to meet my Uncle Doyle and Aunt Moxie. They live in London. 

 

Taurean: Who are some your other friends and neighbors, both human and non-human? How you meet? What are they like?

 

Thorne

(Connect with Thorne Thistlestop 

via @TheBookishFox on Twitter!)

Swinebert: Well, you know of our friend, Thorne Thistlestop

(aka “The Bookish Fox”) who’s the librarian at “Bookmobile Sentinel.”  A traveling library in our neighborhood.

 

Taurean: Something I always love to ask duos like yourselves is, who are your favorite duos?

 

Swinebert: I’ve got a soft spot for the classics: Laurel and Hardy, Gilbert and Sullivan, Cagney and Lacey-Swinebert's Duos - FINAL TRANS

Swinebert: But of course we’ve got awesome duets today-

Joe and Sparky, Cork and Fuzz, Herman and Rosie, the list goes on!

Swinebert''s Duos 2

(Covers for “Joe and Spark Go To School”, “Cork and Fuzz: Spring Cleaning”, and Herman and Rosie)

Dempsey: The comic nerd in me would say “Batman and Robin” in particular the Tim Drake Robin, as he had the most bittersweet connection with the dark knight.

Dempsey's Duos - FINAL TRANS

Dempsey: Also, literary duos of note for me are: Tom Sawyer and Hukcleberry Finn”, “Holmes and Watson”, and “Phileas Fogg and Passepartout.”

Dempsey's Critter Chat Playlist - TRANS

(Covers for “The Essential Indigo Girls”, “The Essential Simon and Garfunkel”, “The Carpenters: Singles: 1969-1981)

 

Dempsey: But I also love musician duos such as “The Indigo Girls”,

“Simon and Garfunkel”, “Puffy AmiYumi” and “The Carpenters.”

 

Taurean: Of course at T.A.A. we LOVE books, but we’re lovers of television, too, what are some of your favorite shows?

 

Swinebert: Here’s the thing, Dempsey and I like a lot of the same shows, but we have our differing tastes. So, first we’ll start with shows one likes more than the other. That okay with you?

 

Taurean: Sure, please proceed.

 

Swinebert: Okay, I love shows that don’t just tickle my funny bone, but assaults it! Shows like Zatch Bell, various “Peanuts” Specials, and Kodocha.

 

I also love shows that have food at the center: Antique Bakery, Toriko, and I’m So PSYCHED that Yakitate Japan’s anime is coming stateside!

 

Dempsey : For my part I LOVE shows where you learn stuff, like “Modern Marvels.” and “Bill Nye The Science Guy” DVDs that’s both fun and informative. But I also love fun documenterary-style series stuff like “Unlikely Animal Friends.” If you think Swinebert and me are an “Odd Couple”, some of the unions formed between varting species are even more out there, and seriously, I’m surprised Disney hasn’t optioned some of these stories for film.

 

They need to do more of the cool animal films they had in the 60s, 80s and 90s again! Anway, my girfriend Celeine and I are both big fans of “Too Cute” and “Inuyasha.”

Taurean: So what are some shows you both like?

 Swinebert and Dempsey's Fave Shows - FINAL TRANS

Swinebert: We’re both fans of “Sailor Moon” 

(we’re both die hard romantics),

 Naurto, One Piece, Avatar: The Last Airbender

(the non-James Cameron version)

and “The Legend of Korra.”

 

 

Taurean: What books do you think would make a great film or animated series that don’t yet have one?

 

Swinebert:  Otter, like you, D and I are big fans, we first met Otter on Twitter  (@i_am_otter), and we’re looking forward to her two books in 2015!

Otter Trilogy

(Covers for “I Am Otter”, “Otter in Space”, and

“Otter Loves Halloween!”)

Swinebert: As I commented on in your review back in 2014, my nephew Trug had a NAJOR crush on her.

 

Even though Otter turned him down (and he’s still perplexed about why she offered instead to set him up with Giraffe…) I was nevertheless impressed with his courage. The game of love, despite how cynical, comical and downright trvial we portray it, is NOT a game for wimps.

 

Like most things in life, it takes the guts of an olympian athlete, the , and the blindless optomism that’s easier for kids like Trug (with so much life ahead of him) than folks like me, who while nowhere near my final years, sometimes have a harder time keeping the faith.

 

After all, I’ve had many crushes, a couple serious relationships, yet nothing steady at the moment.

 

As I said then and still stand by now, he’ll make the one who finally does look his way a happy mate.

 

For my own part, I still believe that I will find a sweetie sow who makes my piggy heart skip a beat, and feeling my trotters are strolling on clouds.

 

While it’s never fun to come up short: be that flunking a test you actually studied for, , or as in in Trug’s case “Not getting the girl’

 

Dempsey: “Varjak Paw” needs to be a movie, and an awesome one! I like how the book has the action of “Warriors” but does it’s own thing.

 

But I’d be open to an animated series if it was done right and they don’t stretch the story too thin in an episodic format. 

 

Apparently, it was optioned at one point,

but nothing came of it.

 

Someone PLEASE make this film (or animated series) before I’m out of my nine lives!

Varjak Paw Duet

(Covers for “Varjak Paw” and

“The Outlaw Varjak Paw”)

Panel by Panel (with Swinebert and Dempsey 2.5.5

(Panel By Panel: with Swinebert & Dempsey Logo)

Taurean: As some T.A.A. fans know, we just launched “Panel by Panel” our comics/graphic novel column where you guys, and myself, review titles and discuses trends and opinions about this vibrant medium.

(Steven Universe Intro –

Cartoon Network on YouTube)

[The Literary Rat DARES you to sing-along…]

Taurean: I know on Facebook, you’ve professed your love for “Steven Universe.” I’m a fan, too, and I recently checked out the comics put out by “BOOM Studios“, and I was skeptical at first, but they blew me away!

 

Swinebert: We felt the same way at first, though we were excited when  we first learned about them last summer (before new episodes of the series resumed after a LONG break where we feared it was canceled) , we’ve been burned by bad comic versions of television shows or films we love.

But when we heard what you had to say about the comics, we gave them a go for ourselcves. As a fellow “Steventhusiast” we knew we could trust your vouching for them.

 

Steven Universe #1-#5

(Steven Universe: Comics #1-#5, BOOM Studios)

Dempsey: We’ve read the first 5 books and knew we had to review these for “Panel by Panel” so you’ll have to wait and see what we thought…

 

To Be Continued…

 

 

Check back next Sunday for part 3 of my chat with Swinebert & Dempsey…

 

You’ll learn more about what they’re planning just for T.A.A. fans! A sneak peak of what they’re working on next, and a whole lot more!

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!

Abracazebra

Abracazebra

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.

 

 

 

bear-book-final-cover

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 

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.

 

Gaston

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

(@emmachichesterc)

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”

 

Plumdog

 

PLUMDOG

by Emma Chichester Clark

(@emmachichesterc)

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.

GUIDO's GLAM SHOT

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

(@randomhousekids)

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!

 

 4cdafd4677c91cdc959a79358416cf6f

WOLFIE the Bunny

by Ame Dyckman  (@AmeDyckman)

Illustrated by Zachariah OHora 

(@ZachariahOHora)

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-

Sam Garton and Otter – Picture Book Month

SandO

 

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.”

[@Swinebert_and_D]

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-

www.iamotter.co.uk 

 

Oh, one last thing-

Good Word Friday – Curse of Granville Fortune Cover Reveal + Giveaway!

Good Word Friday Banner

Welcome back to Good Word Friday!

This week, I’m honored to share in a WORLDWIDE cover reveal for THE CURSE OF THE GRANVILLE FORTUNE, the upcoming release from my friend, author Kelly Hashway-

 

Granville Fortune 2

CURSE OF THE GRANVILLE FORTUNE

By Kelly Hashway

Pub. Date: October 22, 2014* (*Date subject to change!)

Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.

 

Your lit. rat once beta-read an early version of this book, and while much has changed since first I saw in process, I know Kelly and her team at Tatum Books have worked this to a top-tier novel, and I can’t wait to read the final version! 

 

ABOUT CURSE OF THE GRANVILLE FORTUNE:

Find the fortune, break the curse!

 

The hunt is on for an ancient treasure tied to twelve-year-old J.B.’s family history. He’s been having visions that make him sweaty, lightheaded, and certain he’s turning into some kind of freak—or worse, going insane. But things are worse than he imagined. The visions stem from a family curse. An ancient ancestor was accused of stealing the massive Granville fortune, and now J.B.’s entire family will suffer.

 

To break the curse, J.B. must find and return the Granville’s stolen property. But he’s not the only one searching for the treasure. As he sets out on his journey through a dark and foreboding forest, he’ll battle his worst fears and fight terrifying creatures along the way. And when he meets two others who share the missing pieces of his visions and suffer from the same curse, the three soon realize they need to work together to break the curse before it’s too late.

 

ABOUT KELLY HASHWAY 

Reading is a thing of magic. It has allowed me to enter into worlds I never would have known. I’ve cried, laughed, and been scared right alongside my favorite characters. And my hope is that one day kids will do the same for my characters. I want kids to see that reading is one of the greatest gifts. Luckily, my daughter already agrees with me!

Connect with Kelly:  Website | Twitter Facebook | Goodreads

 

You can enter Kelly’s giveaway to win a copy of the ebook version below (This giveaway is open to everyone!)-

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You have until May 16th, 2014!

 

 

ONE LAST THING!

 

 

I Am Otter

Finally, a quick reminder, there’s still time to enter T.A.A.’s giveaway to win a (Hardcover) copy of “I Am Otter” by Sam Garton. (Only open to U.S. and Canada)

Head to our review, and leave a comment with your real first name, last name initial, city and state, or province for Canadians. You have until 5/14/14 before MIDNIGHT EST to enter!

We’ll pick a winner at random and announce it 5/15/14.

 

Weekly Readings V

Weekly Readings V (BETA)

 

T.A.A. Fans Old and New,

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. But this week, I’m focusing on one book in particular- 

 

I Am Otter Cover

I Am Otter (@i_am_otter)

by Sam Garton (@SamuelGarton)

Publisher: Balzer + Bray (An Imprint of HarperCollins)

Pub. Date: April 29, 2014

As Long time T.A.A. fans know, this book was one of our “Most Anticipated Book of 2014” picks during our 2013 celebration of “Picture Book Month” founded and run by author Tara Lazar (Her debut picture book “The Monstore” is available June 4th, 2014) and this is one of the few things in life I have ever pre-ordered, which I can still count on one hand.

 

Your lit. rat has read and re-read this book, and I’m happy to finally be able to say it was worth the wait. But for those of you not yet convinced, or just unaware of this book (and it’s star) allow me to clue you in, but before I go further-

Question, what do “I Am Otter” and Jeff Kinney’s “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series have in common?

They both began as online “Experiments” that soon attracted many eyeballs across the web, and particularly in the case of Otter, across continents, and soon their now publishers (Amulet Books [U.S.] and Balzer + Bray [imprint of HarperCollins] respectively) approach them for bringing them to print, and the road to this book’s release is a great example of “Out of the Box” marketing that today’s authors and/or illustrators can learn from, but that’s a topic for another time and place… 

 

Anyway, our tittle character has something in common with another famous kidlit character, the iconic Paddington Bear, who also began life anew when he migrated from darkest Peru to England where a mild-mannered family took him in, unaware of the adventures and antics that would await them…  

 

But while P.B. had an established biological family in his native homeland before being taken in by the Brown family, Otter began not knowing where she came from when left on the doorstep of the human (Known as Otter Keeper) who like the Browns, got more than he bargained for…

 

Children from adoptive or blended families can relate to Otter’s initial unease settling in, and like many children, a special toy friend can make all the difference, just like Christopher Robin and Pooh and Co., or a non-wizard Harry had his bucket of dinosaurs, Otter has Teddy, and together with Otter Keeper, they have more fun than you could believe!

 

But as the saying goes, all unbelievable fun has to come to an end, and after a fun-filled weekend, Monday comes, and with that, Otter Keeper goes to work, and despite Otter’s attempts to prevent Monday from coming, it always barges in-   sad dog eyes

This is one of rare books that comes along every so often, where the reader’s not only rewarded with a plucky, well-defined character, but for anyone who had to “Make your own fun” from an early age as I did, can relate to Otter doing her best to pass the time, some ideas working better than others, and yet somehow always involve messes and mayhem, just when the grown-up in your life comes home and there’s nowhere to hide!

 

As with many picture books, facial expressions are very important to highlight the unspoken moments that bring characters alive, and that vital quality is in full view here as subtle lines and shading indicate fear, anger, movement and joy.

While many folks relent (or at least occasionally bummed out) how digital the world of visual arts has become, there’s nothing to fear here.  To me, the best visual artists still achieve this organic warmth to their illustrations, even if the final art to appear in the book was digitally enhanced, or it was digital all along.

 

Even books where technology is inherently modern and integral to the story, that warmth is still there, and vital to the experience. You’ll find that detail throughout.

 

Not since Snoopy, Garfield, or Calvin and Hobbes have I met a character as lively and unique as Otter, may she have a long and lorded life in the literary landscape for many years to come.

Look out, Olivia, there’s a new picture book princess in town. (We still love you, too, though!)

 

While this lit. rat normally prefers to work solo when it comes to our book reviews at T.A.A., this was a title that I wanted some extra POVs on, and with that, I’ll let my friends, Swinebert & Dempsey (who shared in the launch celebration of I Am Otter at the end of April 2014), share their thoughts on Otter, her book, and it how relates to them-

 

Swinebert: This book reminded me of the day I met Ferenc. I used to live on a ranch with my Ma, Pa, and siblings.

Unlike most pigs, we weren’t raised to be…food, but rather for show.Ma was a retired show pig, and Pa worked in movies (Think Babe or Gordy), and to Mr. Gregory we weren’t his “Meal Ticket” in more ways than one, we were his friends, family even.

 

But times got tough  when the human recession of 2008 hit. Mr. Gregory was being pressured to sell the ranch, and sell me, and my siblings for slaughter meat. It was during those scary times I met Ferenc when he was a kid.

 

He not only found a way to save the ranch, but saved me, my sibs, and our folks from being sent to Hog Heaven (By way of a Butcher) and gave Mr. Gregory a new lease on life along with his livelihood.

 

When Mr. Gregory insisted on giving Ferenc a reward for his help, the only thing he wanted, was to take me home.   He had a heck of a time convincing his parents to bring me home, but thank acorns he did.

 

Ferenc also gave me my name, the “Bert” in it came from his favorite uncle, and my new life had begun in earnest…

Ferenc and Swinebert Collage 2 (Left Ferenc & Swinebert as Youth | Right, Ferenc & Swinebert Grown-Up)

For many years we lived in Brooklyn, but after Ferenc grew up and graduated college we moved out to put down our own roots in White Oak Acres, a quiet-looking city-town hybrid in suburbia- Overhead view of White Oak Acres

(Overhead view of White Oak Acres)

winebert and Dempsey's House

 (Swinebert & Dempsey’s House)

Here I would meet my best pal, Dempsey, and make so many new and captivating friends, including Otter.

 

Though we’ve not met outside cyberspace, I knew when I first encountered her when me and Dempsey were getting our barrings on Twitter, she’d fit right in with the folks we know and love offline. 

 

But even though she’s my friend, I’d love the book even if I’d not known her (virtually or otherwise) beforehand, because it reminds me how lucky I am to have Ferenc, and while I’m sometimes ticked off when he leaves me out of cool stuff, he’s there for me when it counts.  The only problem is- TRUG 2

(Swinebert’s Nephew,Trug)

My little nephew Trug (who loved the book, too, after his favorite uncle, ME, read it to him) has fallen in love with Otter, and when I say love, I mean the “Flowers and Chocolate-covered acorns, WILL YOU MARRY ME?” kind of love.

 

Otter, should you read this, can you please give a shout out to my nephew Trug on Twitter? I don’t want to lose my “Coolest Uncle Ever!” status. Swinebert's Signature (FINAL) MINI  Dempsey: Like Swinebert, this book reminded me of the day I met my human, Vermont (Goes by “Vernie”) back when I was a kitten. (This was long before I met Swinebert and his human, by the way)  

 

Vernie (when he was a little boy) originally wanted a dog, but got me instead, and at first he didn’t like me.

I too wasn’t sure I’d like Vernie at first, either, until I saw his room the first time, and saw his bookshelf, filled to bursting with books, except the last shelf on the bottom. (More on that later…)

Vernie loved to read, as did I, that was the first glimmer of hope, but what put my kitty heart at ease was when he was reading a book for school.

 

Vernie had a hard time learning to read, and reading aloud helped him remember it better, one night as he read aloud, I hopped onto the desk to keep him company.   Also, because he was reading a story I wanted to hear for ages. He saw I was engaged and he kept reading to me.

When he finished, I thanked him for telling me the story, and that I could help him read better if he was interested, and if you could’ve seen the look on his face, you’d think he’d won MILLIONS or something.

Anyway, he agreed, and as I helped him read better, we started to connect, the first time he hugged me (Because he WANTED to, not because he was told to) I wanted to cry tears of joy, but we cats aren’t ones for crying (Unless we’re in pain) so I purred instead.

 

I asked him why he didn’t like me at first.

 

He said the last time he met a cat, it was mean to him, and he did nothing wrong to it, and it made him think all cats were mean, but meeting me changed his mind, and I’d already changed my mind about Vernie. No one who loves books as he does (Especially because he struggled with reading in the beginning) can be all bad.

He’s grown up now, and still wants a dog, so S.B. and I’ll probably have a howling new member of the family someday, but Vernie and I are like Otter and Teddy now, true friends and inseparable, until (like Otter Keeper) he has to go to work, but with S.B. and our friends, I’m never bored or lonely.

 

But when I do want my “Alone Time” (which all cats do at some point) I can nap in the bottom shelf of Vernie’s bookcase that I mentioned earlier,  and can look at a picture of Vernie and me when I do miss him, or read a book from my literary collection, but I have to store most of my books in my private library in my and S.B.’s backyard clubhouse-

Swinebert and Dempsey's Backyard Clubhouse

 

(Swinebert & Dempsey’s Backyard Clubhouse)

  All My Anchovies, Dempsey Special Thanks to Swinebert & Dempsey (@Swinebert_and_D) for stopping by to share their opinions (and a bit of themselves) today.   That’s it for Weekly Readings. Next time, we’ll be back to our usual multi-book format.

UPDATE (5/16/14): Giveaway’s over! Winner announced.

 

UPDATE (7/16/14): Watch the video below to hear what the “Critters” say about “I Am Otter” and a sneak peak at where she’s headed next! (Feel free to share it with friends!)

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).

I Am Otter (Release Celebration with Swinebert & Dempsey)

I Am Otter

 

 

Today is the release day for “I Am Otter” by Sam Garton, last year T.A.A. named it one of “Most Anticipated Releases for 2014” during our Picture Book Month 2013 celebration (UPDATE 5/6/14: Check out our Review!), I’ve invited my friends, Swinebert & Dempsey (@Swinebert_and_D) to stop by and celebrate-

 

Swinebert: Morning Chicks and Chickies! Today’s a big day for an e-friend of ours and Dempsey and I made this video to celebrate-

Dempsey: Special Thanks to Taurean J. Watkins at Talking Animal Addicts for helping S.B. and I create this video!