Swinebert: We’re also going to do more video for T.A.A.’s YouTube channel, I’m doing a solo video series called “Swinebert Says” where I riff on my life in minerature. I do that on me and D’s Twitter account sometimes, and use #SwinebertSays, when I can fit it in! (LOL)
Dempsey: For me, I’m also doing a similar solo videos series called
“Life According To Dempsey” where like Swinebert, I also riff on my life, but also share bits about my family I don’t always share in other channels.
I sometimes do on Twitter and use #LifeAccordingToDempsey,
and like S.B., I can’t always fit that hash tag in, and mine’s WAY longer!
(Forepaw to Forehead)
Taurean: I can relate, I’m always battling length and engagement on Twitter, so I hear you both on that! What else are you working on?
(Swinebert & Dempsey’s “Hog Wild World Tour”
[TEASER] – Talking Animal Addicts on YouTube)
Swinebert: We’re also working on our first web series that chronicles our “World Tour Holiday” we went on last year, and I know the production of that’s been slow on your end, but we know it’ll be worth the wait.
Dempsey: Right you are, S.B., this was not only a fun trip, but is also changed our family (incl. our humans) in BIG ways, and we can’t wait to share the amazing life changes that occured because of our trip last summer.
Taurean: Thanks so much for taking time to chat with me.
Swinebert: Our pleasure, you’re as much a part of our family as you are our director/producer/PR guy.
Dempsey: Agreed, we look forward to sharing more with T.A.A. in the near future.
It’s a common saying among thespians (*a fancy word for “performers “), but while that sentiment can be debatable, depending on the production, it’s more or less true.
No one knows this better than Amandina. She can sing, dance, and act, but she lacked two things every performer needs: an audience, and self-confidence. She’s also intensly shy, something this lit. rat can relate to, as that was me as a rattling who had not yet discovered my love for literature…
But Amandina’s determined to work through her shyness: She rents out a theatre, spruces it up, designs the set, makes her costumes and puts up flyers all over town.
Finally, the opening night of her solo show, Amandina takes center stage, only to find: No one showed up!
A lot of people early on in my journey as an author suggested I read “Leo the Late Bloomer” as that’s often touted as the pinnacle of working through difficult (and LONG) “seasons” in our lives. I did read it, and yes, it helped, a little.
But I’d recommend “Amandina” for those who already “felt the fear, did it anyway, but can’t find or reach their audience” because those “writer seasons” are different, even if they share some overlap.
Even if you’re not a writer, we all have these “seasons” to work through.
The season of a college senior’s different than a college freshman, so is the season of a first-year teacher versus a veteran 10 or more years in the field, and first-time parents have a different season than parents with many years of experience.
Sergio Ruzzier’s illustrations have this warm and whispy feel to them that invoke that eviable timeless charm, for fans of his more recent books, this book showcases a new side of his artist palate you don’t want to miss.
Since the release of “Bear and Bee”, “Bear and Bee: Too Busy” and “A Letter For Leo”, author-illustrator Sergio Ruzzier is becoming one of the hottest names in the modern picture book era.
But as with many authors, the road to noetriy was a long and winding grind, as such sometimes earlier works get sent to the dreaded, “Isle of Misfit Out of Print Books.”
For those not the biz, out of print books (sometimes called remaindered books) are titles the publicher no longer prints.
There can be various reasons why books go out of print, but I hope now that Sergio’s reached a new level of noteriety, his O.P. backlist titles can be reivisited and reissued, and “Amandina” should be at the top of the list, in this humble lit. rat’s opinion.
What do “The Frog Prince” and “Party Croc!” have in common? They both tackle the “Make A Promise, Keep A Promise” creedo that many classic stories are based on.
But what sets this retelling of an african folktale apart from the original “Grimm’s” story (and it’s MANY retellings) is the frenetic energy and unabashed gusto.
Instead of short-sighted princess, we have a normal, down-to-earth girl named Zuva, who wants to bring home fish for dinner, but has no luck with her angler skills.
So, she makes a bargain with a crocodile (i.e. the earnest “Frog” of this folktale): if he brings her fish, she’ll invite him to a party the coming Sataurday.
The thing is, the crocodile’s presence would not be welcome in the Zuva’s village.
The croc delivers his part of the promise, and Zuva brought back fish for the village, and quickly forgets her bargin with the crocodile, thinking he’d never learn when Saturday was…
But the crocodile (blissfully unaware) is no oridinary crocodile, but rather a Party Croc, and tells (or rather SINGS) to everyone who’ll listen he’s been invited to a party.
If you’ve watched “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” for any length of time, you can almost hear in your mind one of the many random freestyle dittys sung by Ponyville’s #1 Party Pony, Pinkie Pie! (Or “Double P” as I call her)
Also, the Party Croc would ask various kids when Saturday would arrive, and when Saturday comes, the croc leaves the fishing pool to “Get down with his scaly self.”
When Zuva spots him sashaying into the village, dressed in his swampy best, she quickly hides him in her house, and begins realizes that making a promise she couldn’t keep was not a good idea, especially when the Party Croc finally crashes the party he thought he’d been invited to all along!
Derek Sullivan’s illustrations have this raw yet warm energy, and Margret Read MacDonald’s use of concise, punchy text, along with the repetition of our titular reptile’s refrain of jubilation come together in a delightful way.
Eventually Zuva had to confess her lie, and from there, well, you’ll have to read for yourself…
Folktales, much like picture books in rhyme, or novels in verse, are TOUGH to write, and even tougher to sell, but a joy to readers of all kinds when done well.
“Party Croc!” is a hilarous reminder that one shouldn’t make promises you can’t or don’t wish to keep.
While “Spring Break” and “March Madness” are buzz words on many folks minds (at the time this review’s being written), we’re looking ahead to what we hope will be T.A.A.’s best summer ever, if it’s even half as eventful as the well-read pig making his seafaring return in the follow up to his 2014 debut, this lit. rat will have little to complain about-
School may be out for Summer, but Rufus Leroy Williams III (really, you can just call him Rufus) has more lessons to learn. These are lessons you can’t learn in the classroom, but in the wider world we call life.
Instead of taking dance lessons, or going off to camp, Rufus wants to spend his summer being a pirate.
Not to pillage and plunder, but to have adventures on the open sea, and uncover buried treasure that’s meant to be claimed to the ones who find it first! He quickly makes contact with a pirate gang in need of a new crewmate.
But just like fighting for his rights to an education is his inaugural outing-Rufus must prove himself worthy to a band of sea dogs who have reservations about letting a pig join their crew.
Valeri Gorbachev’s illustrations are as charming as ever, and given the new season and seaside locales, the colors pop with a extra shot of intensity.
Kermit the Frog of Muppets fame historically said, “It’s not easy being green.”
Well, it’s also not easy being a cultured and literate pig, in a world filled with narrow-minded humans who think pigs are hopeless naughty slobs (Not saying none are, just that it’s not true of EVERY pig, okay?)
It’s no different than most folks thinking all rats are mean and nasty.
Hello! Discriminate much!? But I digress…
Anyway, as with the last Rufus book, I felt it only right to let my piggy pal, Swinebert Glockchester (from “Swinebert & Dempsey”) share his thoughts on the book-
Swinebert: Yo Chicks and Chickies, I’ve been looking forward to the new Rufus book, and when “The Literary Rat” sent me a tweet that some stores already carried it ahead of its April date, I did some store stalking and found a copy.
The first time he read a whole chapter book on his own, Iwas so proud of him, the only one prouder was his father (my brother), of course.
Man, does Rufus have it tough!
I long for the day when more humans get we pigs are as invidual and itelligent as any dog, cat, horse and even rat you can name!
Trug and I are lucky we live in White Oak Acres, it’s the only city I know of that have special sanctions for allowing unorthadox companion animals in residential areas.
Or to it put in plain Brooklyn real talk: you don’t have to live on a farm to have pet pigs, goats, ferrets and even skunks, among others, so long as yop meet their needs and whatnot.
Plus, most of the vets in this city are specially trained to treat non-tradtional pets like Trug and yours truly.
Anyway, I loved “Rufus Goes To Sea.” While Rufus reminds me Trug’s early school days, Rufus in this story has a little of a young me in him, too, as I have to prove myself at times. particularly when I meet pets from other towns and cities, their humans even more so.
(Swinebert’s Human: Ferenc Süto, left youth, right grown-up)
My human, Ferenc, does all he can to make sure I feel as welcome as when we travel, he’s the best pet parent a scrappy pig like me could ask for.
Speaking of which, I better go remind him about our weekly date.
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).
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.
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!
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 toCarolyn 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).