Weekly Readings (Holiday 2014 Edition)

Weekly Readings (Holiday 2014)


Welcome one and all to another edition of

“Weekly Readings”


“Weekly Readings” is a regular feature where your lit. rat reviews various books in the world of fantastical fauna. While T.A.A. focuses on animal stories, humans can and do join in on the fun now and again.


This week we’re sharing two fab holiday reads that released this year. From ursine lovers living in the giving spirit we hope to embody throughout the year to the Christmas Eve crisis of a sign-happy cat who wants to be off a certain fellow’s “Naughty List.”

Boris and Stella and the Perfect Gift (A Christmas and Hanukkah) (1)


Boris and Stella and the Perfect Gift

by Dara Goldman (@DaraGoldman)

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Pub. Date: September 1st, 2013



While there are MANY books about the various end of year holidays, few of them combine two holidays in one book, and author-illustrator Dara Goldman’s “Boris and Stella and the Perfect Gift” does a fine job bringing two of the most celebrated holidays, Christmas and Hanukkah (and especially in the case of Christmas, the most commercialized) back to their core essence.

Those who know your lit. rat better than most know I’m a hopeless romantic. So bringing love-dovey bears, Christmas, and Hanukkah all in one book can not fail to intrigue me.

In all the hoopla about better diversity in children’s books, we focus so much on the ethnicity of the characters (for those who write about humans…) that we don’t give enough attention to how cultural traditions blend among family and friends.

While there increasingly more books about atypical or nontraditional families, we don’t often feature the mix of varying cultures and spiritual upbringings.

After all, diversity’s not just about mixing nationalities, but cultures and spiritual traditions, too.

Dara’s illustrations are not just cute and comforting to the eyes, but contained details that are subtle but integral to grounding the reader and those being read to.

While best known for his tales of the American Old West, author O. Henry also wrote a short story called,The Gift of the Magi” about a couple with little money but did what they could to give their significant other a special gift.

The base structure of that story is used to charming effect in this story of two ursine sweethearts. Mazzāl Tōbh and Hallelujah!













Here Comes Santa Cat

by Deborah Underwood (@underwoodwriter)

Illustrated by Claudia Rueda

 Publisher: Dial (Imprint of Penguin Books)

Pub. Date: October 21st, 2014



Author Deborah Underwood first introduced us to this charismatic chap earlier this year with “Here Comes The Easter Cat”, which was also one of T.A.A.’s “Most Anticipated Reads of 2014” and now Cat is back with a Christmas Eve crisis, he’s been a bit naughty and fears he’ll be passed over by Santa Claus on Christmas, so he gets the notion to dress like Santa (as seen on the “Halls Decked” cover) and give himself a gift. 


If you seen the “Maisy” animated series (based on the long-running books by author-illustrator Lucy Cousins) you’ll recognize the unseen narrator interacting with Cat, who tells him that Santa gives gifts to those who give to others, not himself, and after some harried high-jinks and missteps, it’s a great book that allows for reader participation.


Illustrator Claudia Rueda uses a whimsical yet simple style to allow the feisty feline to shine. While I sometimes fear this tactic can be overused, the clean white minimalist backgrounds (reminiscent of the “Kipper” animated series based on Mick Inkpen’s 25+ year picture book series) is used to brilliant effect here, it allows the reader, and those being read to, to imagine Cat’s world being anywhere and anything, and brings a further level of immersion.


While I’m an unabashed fan of the extravagant, meticulously detailed illustrations  of Richard Scary or is something to be said for the thoughtful use of minimalist art style and direction.


Hey, it certainly didn’t do Ian Falconer’s “Olivia” any harm!


(Even the intro to the 2010 animated series invokes this tactic which allows us to see the “people” in her world more intimately)


As I touched on in my review of I’m always impressed when authors create characters who have such.


While the name of our site is “Talking Animal Addicts” many of our fantastic fauna brothers and sisters don’t speak in the audible sense, but they are FAR from silent…


Just as Bernard Waber’s “Lyle the Crocodile” used his facial expression and physicality to show his feelings and opinions, and Charlotte’s web-woven words help lead to keeping Wilbur out of the slaughterhouse, while also gave the reader insight to their evolving friendship, Cat uses a tactic commonly employed tactic during the silent film era  (and “Looney Tunes” alum, Wile E. Coyote) of holding up various signs to make his points, and is one of the sources to the humor.  


In closing, “Here Comes Santa Cat” gives us another sensationally seasonal outing with one of T.A.A.’s favorite felines, and hope you’ll find this charming book under your tree…


Check out the OFFICIAL Book Trailer for

“Here Comes Santa Cat”

That’s All For This Special Edition of 

“Weekly Readings.” Happy Holidays!

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-