Panel By Panel (2nd Edition)

Panel by Panel (with Swinebert and Dempsey 2.5.5

 

Swinebert: Yo Chicks and Chickies!

Welcome to the second edition of “Panel by Panel” where my pal Dempsey and I chat about out one of our many passions-COMICS! (and graphic novels)

 

Dempsey: This week, S.B., myself and our friend (and podcast director/producer), Taurean J. Watkins (aka “The Literary Rat), review Steven Universe, not the show (though we definitely will get to that) but the comics based on said show-

Steven Universe #1-#5

Steven Universe: Vol. 1-5

Publisher: kaboom!

(from BOOM! Studios)

[@boomstudios]

 

 

From Taurean J. Watkins 

[aka “The Literary Rat”] (@Taurean_Watkins

0-steven-universe-0

(Left, Taurean J. Watkins,  

Right,  Steven Univserse Banner)

I fell in love with “Steven Universe” since it debuted on Cartoon Network over a year ago.

 

For those out of the loop (esp. those of you gave up on CN YEARS ago, but need to check back in for this one if nothing else) it’s about a kid who is half-human and half-gem, “Gems” are otherworldy beings with human-like forms, and that’s all I can share on that front without spoiling the story for you.

 

The series follows the adventures of our titular character,  and three of the of the “Crystal Gems” who protect Earth from intergaltic threats (Thematically, a mix ofThe Secret Saturdays” and “The Fantastic Four“).

SS+FF

(Left, “The Secret Saturdays, Right, Fantastic Four)

 

Garnet, the strong sem-silent type.

 

Amethyst, the free-spirited/scrappy foodie, also the youngest of the three, and Pearl, the level-headed, logical and slightly over-protective “Mother Hen” of the group.

 

The fourth was Rose-Quartz, the former leader of the Crystal Gems, and Steven’s mother, who (again for story reasons I won’t spoil here) passed on her powers to Steven, who slowly begins to awaken them and learn where he fits within the Crystal Gems, who act as his guardians/mentors in differing ways, and the humans who live in small costal metropolis of Beach City.

 

It’s the kind of show I rarely see much anymore, and was plesantly surprised to find on Cartoon Network especially.

 

This is one of the rare departures in CN’s series roster that has an overarching plot it’s building toward, while also having entertaining side stories weaved in.

AT+RS (REMIX)

A contrast departure to current hit series like “Adventure Time” and “Regular Show” which are more episodic and situational in nature (like many of CN’s first original series like “Ed. Edd ‘n Eddy“, Dexter’s Labrotory and “The Powerpuff Girls“). 

 

 

 

(Top, Adventure Time Blu-Ray Seasons 1-5

Middle, Regular Show Blu-Ray Seasons 1-3

Bottom, “Ed, Edd ‘n Eddy, Dexter’s Labrotory,

The Powerpuff Girls”)

 

 

While there are plot throughlines in Adventure Time, they’re more convoluted (esp. from season 4 onward), open-ended, and move at a slower pace.

 

 

If you like an overarching storyline, that’s a little loose in how it’s told (versus a more tradtionally lineral tale) this is the show for you!

 

It’s got it all: Multi-demenstional characters. A world with rooted back story that’s shared bit by bit when relevant. Action, drama, comedy, romance, and ocasional improptu musical moments that don’t feel either annoying or overdone.

 

It also naturally has a diverse cast of characters

(both in terms of ethnicity, age, life stage and personality) without coming off fake or forced. 

In many ways “Steven Universe” is for Cartoon Network what “Avatar: The Last Airbender”

(and it’s sucessor, “The Legend of Korra”)

did on Nickelodeon, takes the world and its characters seriously (no matter how offbeat and quirky they may be), gives them respect, but still has fun with them along the way.   

Avatar and Korra

(Top, Avatar: The Last Airbender – Books 1-3,  

Bottom,  The Legend of Korra – Books 1-4)

I highly recommend it to viewers who want something with a more defined plot, that moves a fair bit faster. On that note…

Steven Universe #1-#5

When I heard back in Summer 2014 there’d be a comic series based on the show, I was really skeptical, as these adaptations can go horribly wrong, something us book nerds at T.A.A. know all too well (RE: Books adapted to movies)

But I’m happy to say that for the first five volumes in, the team at kaboom!/BOOM! Studios have blown me away!

 

They nail the characters on all points, the dialogue, their mannerisms, and especially important for this series, the sizable supporting cast doesn’t get short-changed while centering on our gem-tastic quartet.

 

The bits with Steven and Lion in volumes 2 and 5 are especially touching/hilarious (for PEANUTS fans, think of the scenes with Lucy and Snoopy and you get an idea of what I mean).

 

I also love how they reference specific elements or episodes of the show without ailenating newcomers, but still reward long-time “Steventhusiasts” such as myself.

 

I’m also impressed how they use varying illustration styles throughout, often matching the tone of the story/vingette in each volume: Wispy and detailed for the warm fuzzy stuff, loose and super-stylized for the super-funny/quirky stuff, and something right in the middle when all the above are present in one story.

 

They all feel right and close in spirit to the art style in the series proper, but different enough so that it doesn’t have that generic feel like some comic adaptations of characters who aren’t native to the comics/graphic novel space.

 

Plus, I love the “Manga-Inspired” color spreads in-between the various stories in each volume. For those who LOVE the color spreads of “One Piece” and “Naruto” you’re in for a treat.

 

My only technical nitpick is that the speech bubbles can a bit hard to read, not so much the fonts they choose, but rather I think they can be a bit bigger to make for easier reading, but it’s a minor gripe for what is a stellar (so far) take on the world and characters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Swinebert’s Thoughts

Swinebert (Grown Up 1.5)

 

Like Taurean, Dempsey and I are BIG “Steven Universe” fans, and we too were skeptical of how the comics would fare, but after Taurean read/vouched for them, D and I  jumped in, and we agree,

they ROCK! The comics totally capture the heart of the show and run their own creative  stroke through it to stellar efffect. 

 

 

 

 

Dempsey’s Thoughts

DEMPSEY FRAME

To get a little metaphorical, the characters in Steven’s “Universe” have a lot of paralells with my family.

 

No, we’re not a team of warriors weilding anicent magic, but the family dynamics of the Woyzeck Clan and Steven’s nontradtional family certainly have overlap.

LANGLEY SOLO FINAL

(Langley Woyzeck, Dempsey’s Older Brother)

My brother Langley and I fight a lot, kind of like Amethysyt and Peral, only Langley’s not as goofy and isn’t quite as food crazy as me and S.B. are, and I used to be more uptight similar to Pearl, but I’ve lightened up in recent years.

Dominic Woyzeck

(Dominic Woyzeck, Dempsey’s Dad)

My dad and I have differing personalites and tastes, but we both LOVE Steven Universe, and while we used to be distant, we’re as close as Steven and his dad, though mine’s a tad more relaible and as smart as he is kooky!

My favorite story was where Steven and his friend Connie are trying to raise money give Beach City a new library and how Pearl’s neatnik ways lead to hilarious results!

I also loved how Pearl and Connie had an exchange on how “realistic” a book character should be portrayed, Swinebert and I had such a debate once, thankfully I didn’t grill S.B. too much…(LOL!) 

Final Thoughts

Taurean: A worthy companion series for new and diehard fans.

Swinebert: Hardcore Steven Universe must not miss this worthy companion adapatation.

Dempsey: Stven Universe enters the comics world without a hitch. 

 

 

You Can Find Swinebert & Dempsey On Twitter via @Swinebert_and_D

(Tweet them! They don’t bite…)

 

 

facebook-346725

 

 

☚ They’re also on Facebook! 

 

 

T.A.A. on YouTube 2

They also contribute videos to

T.A.A.’s YouTube channel!

Check back next time for another edition of 
“Panel by Panel.”
 

Until then,

Keep reading, keep doodling,

and be careful not to get a papercut!

 

Oh, almost forgot-

 

 

(Steven Universe Intro –

Cartoon Network on YouTube)

 

Hey, we couldn’t feature something

“Steven Universe” related without a sing-along session!

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!

Weekly Readings XIX

Weekly Readings 19

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 a trio of fantastic fauna to lift your spirits, while we wait for Sprng to (Slowly) hit, for those of us in 4-season climates. 

 

9781596432369

Amandina 

by Sergio Ruzzier (@SergioRuzzier)

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press 

(Imprint of Macmillan Children’s)

[@MacKidsBooks]

Pub. Date: September 2nd, 2008

 

“There are no small parts. Only small actors.”

 

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.

 

 

SR Books

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.

 

 

 

9780807563205

Party Croc!

A Folktale from Zimbabwe

by Margaret Read MacDonald

Illustrated by Derek Sullivan 

Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company

(@AlbertWhitman)

Pub. Date: March 5th, 2015

 

 

 

 

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. 

 

9781454910527

Rufus Goes to Sea

by Kim T. Griswell (@kimgriswell)

Illustrated by Valeri Gorbachev

Publisher: Sterling Children’s Books

(@SterlingBooks)

Pub. Date: April 7th, 2015

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-

9781454904168

 

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…

Swinebert and Dempsey LOGO X-2

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 (Grown Up 1) POLOAROID 2

 

 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.

 

As I mentioned in my commentary from the first Rufus book, these books remind me of my dear nephew Trug, back when he first started school. He’s a big piglet now, but the Rufus books take me back…TRUG'S PHOTO

The first time he read a whole chapter book on his own, I  was 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. 

 

Ferenc (Kid + Adult) (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. 

 

Swinebert's Signature (FINAL) MINI

 

 

Follow Swinebert (and his feline pal, Dempsey)

on Twitter via @Swinebert_and_D

 

facebook-346725←They’re also on Facebook!

 

 

 

That’s it for Weekly Readings.

See you next time!

 

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).

Talking Animal Addicts 5th Anniversary

T.A.A. 5th Anniversary FINAL

 

 

T.A.A. turns 5 today, and your lit. rat’s so happy he began this journey back in December 2010 to bring you the latest happenings in the world of fantastical fauna, and 2014’s been our most special year yet, and 2015 looks to be our most ambitious year yet.

 

I also want to give special thanks to my colleagues who will be offering regular contributions to T.A.A. in the coming weeks and months-

 

Guido and Bonnie 2-Shot (MINI 3)

Guido & Bonnie

(from T.A.A. FM, our upcoming podcast network)

(@GuidoandBonnie)

 

 

 

Swinebert & Dempsey (Fancy 2-Shot) - FINALSwinebert Glockchester and Dempsey Woyzeck (@Swinebert_and_D)

(from T.A.A. FM, our upcoming podcast network)

 

 

 

 

To those of you followed us since the beginning, I thank you from the bottom of my heart, and give a hearty welcome to those of you new to T.A.A. 

 

In closing, I’d appreciate if you’d leave a comment below and tell me what you’d love to see on T.A.A. in 2015: Author interviews, more special feature articles, more ways to get involved in the T.A.A. community?

Any ideas for our YouTube channel? 

 

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

 

Taurean J. Watkins (@Taurean_Watkins)

“The Literary Rat” 

Founder/Editor-in-Chief

Talking Animal Addicts

 

 

 

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-

Weekly Readings (Stanley & Katrina Edition)

Weekly Readings (Stanley & Katrina Edition)

 

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.

 

Stan and Katrina 2014

This week is a special edition of Weekly Readings, because we’re spotlighting two new voices in the fantastical fauna landscape who’ll be stopping by T.A.A. as part of their “Book Blasty Tour.” 

Up to now, we’ve only reviewed picture books so far on T.A.A, but Weekly Readings is slowly expanding into middle grade (and some YA) novels, and we’re kicking that off right now-

 

Stanley and Katrina 1-2

The Perpetual Papers of the Pack of Pets/The Observations of the Obstreperous Animals

(Stanley & Katrina Books 1 and 2)

by Stanley & Katrina (@StanleyNKatrina)

Illustrated by Miro Chun

Katrina von Cat, The Master of Wisdom and knowledge, is used to being the center of her universe, but since the arrival of scrappy dog Stanley, Katrina’s universe has been starkly realigned, and she’s not happy about it!

 

Throw in the, aspiring astronaut, quirky alien obsessed  Guinea pig next door, “Mr.  Fluffypants” (but rather you address him as Zorg), and you’ve got recipe for mayhem, misadventures, and Shenanigans that make the legendary “Tom and Jerry” look like bosom buddies. 

 

(Though thankfully, neither Stan nor Katrina can wield branding irons, swords or anvils at each other [far as I know], as I’m pretty sure their pet insurance doesn’t cover pet on pet warfare…)

 

Given the pet-centric trappings of these books, I decided I needed to get the pet perspective, and who better than T.A.A. FM’s own canine-feline duo, Guido & Bonnie (@GuidoandBonnie) to share their thoughts on the books-

 

GUIDO's GLAM SHOT

 

GUIDO 2

 

First up, I’ve got to say I’m the luckiest dog in the world, I’ve got a great home, stellar food, and I actually love hanging with my feline right-paw, Bonnie, and reading the funny and offbeat misadventures of Stanley and Katrina reminds of how lucky I am.

 

Stanley, I know you and Katrina have issues co-mingling, and I so get it. When Bonnie and I first met, we did not get along, either.

 

But we found ways to make it work, and I’ll share with you (and any other internet-savvy dogs out there) some tips on inter-species bonding-

 

1. Find ONE thing you like about your pet roomie

(and ask yourself why)

 

For me, I like that Bonnie keeps me grounded, but still lets me express my craziest (and sometimes brilliant) ideas.

Because we wouldn’t be in the pet advice/entertaining business had we not met, and Bonnie was hesitant to put herself out there after being burnt out in her short stint as a show cat in the pageant circuit.

 

Having gone through it yourself you know it’s not for everyone.

The best part about working on our upcoming show is that we work with our team, we don’t have to dress up if we don’t want to, and we can set our own hours and pace.

 

You might want to ask Taurean J. Watkins (who works with Bonnie and me) about working with T.A.A.  (He’s a very accommodating director/producer, always on the lookout for talent, he works a bit slow, but it’s always worth the wait!) Okay, back to the tips-

 

2. When you have a fight, try to see it from their POV (Point of

view) 

 

This is common trait among writers such as ourselves, but also makes sense in relationships, especially inter-species relationships.

 

Bonnie likes to be laid back and pragmatic.

 

Whereas I’m the take charge, balls to the wall, Go-Getter type!

 

While that definitely leads to disagreement, we also benefit from it.

 

Bonnie’s learned from me to be a little more daring, and I learned from her to be more methodical in my ambitions.

 

We learned from each other the best parts of our POVs which might otherwise really annoy us about each other to better our relationship.

 

You and Katrina can do that, too.  

 

3. Meet Each Other Half Way

Even though Bonnie and me are friends now, we also have things about each other that still get our dander up (and for us pets with fur, that play on words is SERIOUS business!)

 

That’s why we best describe our friendship as B.F.F.Bs

 

(Meaning: Best Friends Forever with Boundaries)

 

Setting up boundaries is vital for ANY relationship. but especially with those we spend the most time working and/or living with.

 

Since Bonnie and I live AND work together, we make the effort to respect the others quirks and ticks (and NOT the kind we call 1-800-

PetMeds for, LOL!)

 

Bonnie likes to be as laid back and centered as possible, where I’m the happy-go-lucky, hyper-emotional type.

 

So when we both want to do something together, but can’t agree on how to do it, we meet halfway, so we each get a little of what we want. Hope those tips help you out, Stan (is it okay if I call you “Stan?”)

 

 

 

BONNIE GLAM SHOT

 

 

 

Bonnie SignatureLike Guido said above, I too have a lot to be thankful for, my home, the great food, and my girl Andrea (the daughter of Guido’s human), and I’m equally thankful for Guido.

Katrina, I know living a dog can be vexing at times, and Guido and I do have our share of issues, but what makes our friendship work is that while we learned to enjoy being together, we need our time apart. 

 

Often the hardest part about our friendship is that our (Same species) friends and family don’t get it.

 

My mom and Granny (my mom’s mom) are are très [very] Traditional when it comes to dogs.

 

They’re our sworn, genetic enemies and we must never submit to them! Whenever they come to visit us, Guido leaves the house howling in terror!

 

Keep in mind, this the same dog who once took a beating to protect yours truly from being catnapped by pet smugglers a few years back!

So he’s no coward, he just can’t stand the species bigotry comments my mom and Granny hiss out at Guido’s expense.

 

I know they had horrid experiences with dogs as kittens, but I wish they’d see Guido’s different.

 

You seem to share this view, Katrina, at least where Stanley’s concerned, but you do get on with this Henry, so perhaps you do see it can be on a canine by canine basis.

 

My kitty siblings and my dad are more accepting toward Guido.

 

By contrast, Guido’s doggy relations (outside his mother) have embraced me as one of their own, in fact, one his Guido’s brothers has a serious crush on me! (Secretly between us fellow felines, if he were a cat, I’d be so into him, but since he’s not, I don’t want to encourage him…)

 

Learn more about Stanley and Katrina at their OFFICIAL website: http://www.stanleyandkatrina.com 

 

Also, don’t forget to subscribe to their YouTube Channel, where you can find their Paw-some “Word of the Week” video series, in fact your lit. rat did one with Guido and Bonnie-

 

Finally, check out the fan book trailer we made to help spread the Good Word on Stanley and Katrina’s books- 

 

 

Oh ONE LAST THING: Stanley and Katrina

are having a Rafflecopter giveaway you can

enter below-

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

 

 

That’s it for Weekly Readings. See you next time!

 

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).

World Book Day 2014 Twitter Chat Transcript

 

tweeting-150413_1280

 

Yesterday was “World Book Day” and T.A.A. celebrated by bringing together some of our partners and letting them borrow the official T.A.A. Twitter feed (@TAA_Editor) for a Twitter chat.

If you missed the chat live, you can now read the transcript below-

 

ME: It’s Noon EST, and now #TheLiteraryRat Signs off and my special guests take over!

 

Swinebert: Yo Chicks ‘n Chickies! Dempsey and I will be the moderators for this special #WorldBookDay Twitter Chat on T.A.A.’s Twitter Feed.
Dempsey: Are the others here yet?

Swinebert: Bonnie and Guido just got here, Gabriel and Rum, too.

Dempsey: Okay, than let’s get started. First up, we’ll each share our most special book/reading memories. Who wants to go first?

 

Guido: I’ll start! My fave book/reading memory is when Graham (My master’s son) read me “Dominic” by William Steig. Dominic-Steig-William-9780374418267

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bonnie: My favorite book/reading memory is when Andrea  read me “Pippi Longstocking”

Pippi

 

 

 

 

 

 

9780689829536

Swinebert: My turn! Swinebert: My best book/reading memory was the first time I read to me nephew, Trug, “Olivia”

 

 

Dempsey: My favorite book/reading memory was first discovering poetry by Emily Dickinson.

 

 

 

 

 

Swinebert: Last but far from least, Gabriel Crisping and Rum Wheatland (From @Taurean_Watkins’ GABRIEL) share their top book/reading moment.

51ZV5S69Z9L

Gabriel: I have two greatest book/reading memories…The first is reading “Martin’s Mice” by

24178Dick King-Smith. I wish more cats could be like Martin. The second was reading “Charlotte’s Web” with my Dad…Though I didn’t care for Templeton at first. No wonder humans have issues with rats if he’s the sole model they look to.

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Rum: My favorite book/memory was reading the first “Redwall” to my sisters, because they always screamed at the scary parts. (They LIKED it)
Swinebert: Great picks, everyone, now we’ll move on to the next roundtable question: What’s everyone reading at the moment? Rum, why do you go first this time?
Rum: Right now I’m reading “Nightshade City” by Hilary Wagner.
Nightshade City (Nightshade Chronicles #1)
I’ve got a lot of catching up to do with the last one coming out soon!
Gabriel: I’m reading “Firmin: Adventures of a Metropolitan Lowlife” by Sam Savage.
ME: #TheLiteraryRat‘s interjecting a quick sec to say I just bought this recently can’t wait to read it. Carry on, guys, you’re doing great!
2529355
Bonnie: I’m reading “Comfort Food” by Kate Jacobs. Quite a story.
13532204
Guido: I’m reading “Wolf Story” by William McCleery.
1085591
Dempsey: I’m reading “Toes” by Tor Seidler.

1540371

Swinebert: As for me, I’m reading “Welcome to the Bed and Biscuit” by Joan Carris. Great picks again, everyone!
Now before we head to the next roundtable question, let’s chat about what we plan to read next.
17286721
Gabriel: I’m planning to read “Junkyard Planet” by Adam Minter. 
6356399
Rum: Next on my list is “Manhood for Amateurs” by Michael Chabon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

34534

 

 

 

Dempsey: Next up for me is  

“The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents

(Discworld #28) by Terry Pratchett.

4313522Bonnie: Next for me is “The School of Essential Ingredients”

 by Erica Bauermeister 

1324141
    Guido: My next read is “The Daring Adventures of Penhaligon Brush” by S. Jones Rogan.
13538702
Swinebert: As for me, I’m looking forward to
“Sailor Twain: Or: The Mermaid in the Hudson” by Mark Siegel.

The Pelican Chorus

Swinebert: Okay, now for the next roundtable question…What’s your favorite book to re-read? This time, I’ll start us off, mine is beyond doubt “The Pelican Chorus: and Other Nonsense” by Edward Lear.
Dempsey: For me, “Around the World in 80 Days” by Jules Verne.
Melrose and Croc (A Christmas to Remember
Guido: “Melrose and Croc: A Christmas to Remember” by Emma Chichester Clark. It reminds me of the day my master adopted me. (Whimpers)
Swinebert: You okay, Guido?
Guido: Yeah, just got a bit overcome there. It was a happy memory, you know?
Bonnie: I know what you mean, Guido, I remember Andrea adopted me several years ago. Other girls passed me by because I looked “Old.” Andrea was the first soul apart from my mother who said I was beautiful. We clicked instantly.
1127966
Anyway, my favorite book to re-read is “Oscar, Cat-About-Town” by James Herriot. Had I not met Andrea, I’d be a bit like Oscar.

Gabriel: My favorite book to re-read is “How to Save Your Tail” by Mary Hanson. How To Save Your Tail (Hardcover)

 

 

15799039Rum: “Hickory by Palmer Brown” because my sisters love my reading to them and it’s not too cutesy for me…

Swinebert: Way to dig deep, folks, especially you, Guido. Our next roundtable question is…If you could hang out with any literary character, who would it be and why?
51ZV5S69Z9LDempsey: For me, it’d be Martin from “Martian’s Mice” since neither of us care for eating mice and we’d be a great foster dad team.
Guido: I’m a bit torn. Part of me would want to spend time with Sam the Cat Detective…327702 (1)

But he might not tolerate a canine sidekick… So, I’d then go with #Clifford
858719
Bonnie: I’d love to spend the day with the “Bed and Biscuit” crew. It’s clearly rarely boring there!
557537
Gabriel: I’d love to spend the day with Montague Mad-Rat from
Tor Seidler’s “A Rat’s Tale” as we both like to work with our paws.

Rum: Not to mention you both have dames you’d do anything for.

Gabriel: Rum, please!
Rum: Hey, what’re you blushing for?
Gabriel: …Just go next, please…
Rum: Okay…well, I’d love to spend the day with Bingo and J’miah from “The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp.” 
16074339 (1)
It’d be like having the adopted little brothers I never had for real. I love my sisters but I always wanted a brother.

 

Swinebert: For me, I’d have to say Piglet since he reminds me a lot of my nephew Trug, only Trug’s FAR less timid.
Swinebert: Okay, now for our next roundtable question…What book’s world would you most want to visit and why?
13664
Dempsey: I’d visit the world of “Catwings” if I could get wings!
9540084
Swinebert: I’d go to the world of “Dragon Rider” if I got the chance to meet a dragon, either Firedrake or someone else, if he/she were nice.
1045145
Bonnie: I’d inhabit the world of Narnia if I could be friends with Lucy, she reminds me a lot of Andrea when she was little.

ddtreas2
Guido: I’d go to the world of Doctor Doolittle and have him be my doctor so my human would finally know how I really feel without him guessing.
846438
Gabriel: I’d go to the world of “Redwall” because they’d be swords my size to wield. 

Rum: Interesting choice coming from you. Well, like Bonnie, I’d go to Narnia, too. I’d be the big boss of a band of vigilante forest warriors.
Swinebert: Interesting choices, folks. Okay, on to the next roundtable question…Our last question is: What’s the one bit of advice you’d give to a literary character?
Bonnie: I’d advise Oscar from “Oscar, Cat-About-Town” to not give up finding a forever home too easily.
10545071
Rum: I’d tell Skilley from “The Cheshire Cheese Cat” by Carmen Agra Deedy, “We need more cats like you!” Cats who LOVE cheese and are willing to strike bargains with rodents…Like a feline “Pied Piper.” (WITHOUT sending rats or mice to a watery grave…)

9822Gabriel: I’d warn Jasper from “Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH” that he’s ruining a friendship with Nicodemus needlessly.

Gabriel: Given my own story, I’ve got personal experience on the matter…

Guido: Being co-host of an upcoming pet advice show, I’d advise the naughty cats from “Detective LaRue: Letters from the Investigation”-
1342649
Guido: Watch yourself! What humans overlook, we pets in the know will remember.
9780689829536Dempsey: I’d warn Oliva from “Olivia” to not tease Ian too much. Being a “Little Brother” myself, trust me when I say this…
Dempsey: Vengeance (like a boomerang) is Karma!
Swinebert: As for me, I’d just let Wilbur from “Charlotte’s Web” know that the day will come when some some humans see us as more than food. I’m glad my human does.
24178
Swinebert: That’s it for roundtable questions, everyone had such great answers, but before we wrap things up…For those new to T.A.A. and have no idea who some of us are, we’ll share a bit about ourselves. We would’ve done intros first, but we wanted to dive right in. Anyway, I’m Swinebert, and my pal Dempsey and I star in our own show to debut on #TAAFM later this year-
[sz-youtube url=”http://youtu.be/c0kNnoWGu3A” userdata=”Taury” /]
Guido: Bonnie and I also have a show on #TAAFM
[sz-youtube url=”http://youtu.be/4pUqVKqVZSM” userdata=”Taury” /]
Bonnie: We hope pets (and their owners) send us questions that can be answered on the show. You can even tweet us your questions-
Gabriel: My friend (Or at the time, “Frenemy”) Rum and I in the upcoming release “GABRIEL” by Taurean J. Watkins (@Taurean_Watkins) You can learn more about me here-
[sz-youtube url=”http://youtu.be/Iioyk5Wo66g” userdata=”Taury” /]
Rum: And me here-

[sz-youtube url=”http://youtu.be/cC-Jw-Axmjo” userdata=”Taury” /]

Gabriel: Thanks to Mr. Quint (my toymaking mentor) and @Taurean_Watkins for setting up our Facebook page and creating our book trailers.
Guido: Me and Bonnie also want to thank @TAA_Editor for letting us borrow T.A.A.’s Twitter account for this chat in honor of #WorldBookDay!
Swinebert: Dempsey and I third those thanks to @TAA_Editor (aka #TheLiteraryRat) and thanks to all of you who followed along with us! Well, this pig’s signing off, for Dempsey and all our guests today, goodbye and have a acorn-tastic day!