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!

Weekly Readings IV

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It’s been longer than I intended, but it’s time for another edition of Weekly Readings!

For those new here, Weekly Readings is when your lit. rat reviews picture books I’ve read here and there. While T.A.A. focuses on animal stories, we do give humans their due now and again, and one of the books this week does feature one, more on that later…

HENNY

by Elizabeth Rose Stanton (@PenspaperStudio)

Publisher: Paula Wiseman Books (An Imprint of Simon & Schuster)

Pub. Date: January 7th, 2014

In the spirit of Dumbo and the works of Todd Parr, along comes Henny, a chicken born with unusually long arms and hand-like wings!

A great “Okay to be Different” story without getting hokey about it. 

While I often lament the minimalist movement in picture books these days, this book makes great use of minimalism in both words and illustrations. Zeroing in on our heroine and how she makes the most of her unique physique features!

The picture book answer to R.J. Palacio’s middle grade novel “Wonder” with a fantastical fauna twist!

Elizabeth Rose Stanton: This is a debut to be proud of. 

 

Here Comes the Easter Cat

 

 

HERE COMES THE EASTER CAT

Written by Deborah Underwood (@underwoodwriter )

Illustrated by Claudia Rueda

Publisher: Dial

Pub. Date: January 28, 2014

It seems dogs aren’t the only rivals for this cat given the title of the latest from author Deborah Underwood, best known for The Quiet Book” and it’s companion “The Loud Book.” Despite the dominance of cats on YouTube and elsewhere, the “Cat” of this story wants fame that’s beyond the confines of the internet. Cat wants the Easter Bunny’s job, even though its a high maintenance ordeal (the ending will further hammer this home, which I won’t spoil here)

As a dog lover through and through, I found this book charming in my self-made feline rehabilitation program. (That’s a whole other blog post so I won’t elaborate here!) 

The spare and charming illustrations by Claudia Rueda don’t get too cute beyond the expected, and provides warmth and substance to orchestrate this tale that’s simple to read, but HARD to pull off as the author, as a newbie in the picture book landscape from an author standpoint, trust me, it’s harder to pull off than it is to read in this stellar book!

One thing I get concerned with picture books is can the author branch out of the books that made them well known. I haven’t yet read Debroah’s earlier books (yes, I’m in kidlit, but I was mostly focused on novels until couple years ago) but I can say this book safely avoids the dreaded sophomore slump as far as I’m concerned. 

Like Mo Willems “Pigeon” series, this book has great kid-participation appeal and gives pre-readers the chance to “Be the Parent” as the narrator is written like you’re speaking directly to Cat, and he responds via facial expressions and holding up various signs (think Wile E. Coyote of Looney Tunes fame)

For those of you who’ve seen the “Maisy” animated television series (based on the books by Lucy Cousins) you’ll see a similar vibe here, and it just so happens Deborah plans to have future adventures of Cat, and this rat can’t wait (this is the post-mouser era, folks, at least for some of us…)

 

Easter may be some time off (At the time this review is being written) but it never hurts to plan ahead with seasonal titles.

 

Sparky!

Sparky!

Written by Jenny Offill 

Illustrated by Chris Appelhans

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade (An imprint of Random House Children’s Books)

Pub. Date: March 11, 2014

I promsied some human love at the start of this review merry-go-round, and now I can deliver, for while Sparky the sloth, his story would not be possible without the girl who ordered him by mail and gave him his name. Like many kids REALLY wanted a pet, but her (seemingly workaholic) mother insists it has to be low-maintenance, and on a trip to the library, she learns about sloths, a furry creature (that’s the basis for many of the “Bigfoot” legends, that’s just my personal theory) that meets all the criteria-

-Low Maintenance 

-Doesn’t Need to be Walked

-Can’t cause various mischief

(Which one neighbor in the book appreciates)

 

While Sparky can’t do what other pets do, his girl learns to see the best in him in ways no one else can. When you give a dog treats, they’ll eat them all, but with Sparky, you share a cookie, meaning he gets half, than you get the other half!

While first person narration is common in YA and some middle grade fiction, it’s RARE to see first person narrator in a picture book when most often the reader is an adult (or an older tween or teen sibling), but Jenny pulls it off with noticeable skill. Not only from a technical standpoint, but also sounds like the kid narrate this story.

The impressionistic, clay/watercolor hybrid illustrations by Chris Appelhans bring quirky warmth to the experience, and if this style seems familiar for some reason, it might be because Chris did work on “Coraline” the 2009 film adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s novel of the same name. 

Kids with nontraditional pets will get a kick out of Sparky, a sloth that despite being slower than turtles, and more sedate than your eccentric cousin thrice removed after Thanksgiving has more to offer than what the cover image above leads you believe. 

That’s it for Weekly Readings, check back 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.

 

A Different Kind of Book Trailer

Fan Book Trailers

Writers, we all know book trailers (When done right and tight) can bring readers a thrilling tease for their book, and we commonly think of book trailers for books we’ve written recently, trailers for books a little long in the tooth can be a great way to recharge and renew interest in backlist titles.

Authors (Such as Katie Davis, who we profiled during Picture Book Month 2013, and created “Video Idiot Boot Camp” where I learned to tackle and eventually embrace the power and reciprocity of video) uses this tactic to great effect.

But for readers, or writers who are pre-published or struggling to build a platform, making book trailers for your favorite books can be a great way to show the author your support and show your potential readers what you’re like through what you love to read.

For authors and illustrators, it’s a great way to support your colleague’s work and helps your visibility as well, especially if you write in the same genre. It’s also a great way to crossover to a new audience and show your current audience and platform in a new light.

 

Recently, I did a trailer for a book I didn’t write, but love and want this first book in a four book series to get more love and attention-

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It’s a way to “promote” T.A.A. and my author brand without it being directly about me or my writing specifically.

Today, I share yet another fan-made trailer for a book close to your Literary Rat’s Heart-

 

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I’ll soon be writing a feature series on how readers and authors can support the unsung authors and books that don’t get “Bestseller” attention by creating book trailers of books you love, especially if they’re older titles that don’t have ones of their own (In the “Old Days”days when trailers were only for movies)

While I love doing book reviews on T.A.A. and plan to do more in 2014, fan made book trailers are another way to engage your audience and (For authors and/or illustrators) build one’s platform (I prefer to call it “Community”) without pushing yourself in annoying or uncomfortable ways.

This is also positive way we can share our love and fandom to authors and our circle of avid book lovers, be they fellow writers or lay readers.

Since most authors don’t read any comments or reviews of their own books (For varied and personal reasons), this is a way we (Be it author or lay reader) can share our love for their work without the critical factor reviews (Even positive ones) can have.

What do you think of my newest fan book trailer? Please share your thoughts in the comments below. T.A.A. loves hearing from its readers.

That’s all for today. Until Next time, may the fantastical fauna be with you

1st Annual Swinebert & Dempsey’s “Hog ‘n Claw Bowl”

Hog and Claw Bowl 2014 (FINAL)

Swinebert: We’re late, but whatever, welcome to the 1st Annual Swinebert & Dempsey “Hog ‘n Claw Bowl” Where we share our favorite ads aired during (Or in some cases prior to) Super Bowl 2014.

 

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GEICO (Maxwell at the DMV)
Swinebert: We pigs need more respect. I sure know how Jabberjaw feels at times…

Dempsey: I can relate. I get so tired of cats seen as anti-social, pompous, megalomaniacs who only see the worst in humans, rarely the best!

[sz-youtube url=”http://youtu.be/LKuQrKeGe6g” userdata=”Taury” /]
Cheerios (Or Why we still have faith in humanity at large)

Swinebert: Just sweet.

Dempsey: Quite right, S.B. Though I wonder the “Bargain” Langley (My Big brother) got prior to my birth…

[sz-youtube url=”http://youtu.be/ABxP3t7XP3g” userdata=”Taury” /]

Chobani (Mr. Bear Goes WILD…)
Swinebert: This describes my Dad when he had to be on a highly restrictive diet, yogurt (In general) saved his sanity. He can now eat as likes, but this ursine tantrum brought me back to those days, which is FAR funnier in hindsight as it was serious back then.

 

Dempsey: Had similar “Dad” issues myself, S.B. But they had nothing to do with diet. We’re good now. But things were wicked intense for ages!

 

Swinebert: Well that’s it from us. What were your favorite Super Bowl Ads? (Please keep comments “Safe For Work” even if the videos in question weren’t)

 

Dempsey: Special Thanks to Talking Animal Addicts for letting us guest blog here today. Our site’s still in the works. But you can follow S.B. and me on Twitter (@Swinebert_and_D)

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT FOR GABRIEL

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For weeks I’d been promising more info involving the progress of my upcoming debut novel, Gabriel, and today I can share some sobering, yet exciting news.

Let’s get the sobering news out of the way, and let me first say this: Gabriel is still getting published. But due to circumstance and miscommunication beyond my control, I had to part ways with G8Press, who originally acquired Gabriel in December 2012.

Okay, now the good news, Gabriel as I said will still be published, but now by ALTEN INK, a new publisher created by my (former) editor from G8Press, Debby Alten, who had also help found G8Press but left earlier this month for personal reasons, and because my contract was not honored regarding Gabriel’s release, I was free to withdraw Gabriel and am following Debby to her new venture because she really “Gets” the book, and only makes me want to work all the harder.

As such, I’ve updated the videos I’ve done for GABRIEL so far with the branding of my new publisher, ALTEN INK, which you can see below-

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 They’ll also be on both my (Author) YouTube Channel-

http://www.youtube.com/user/taureanjwatkins

 

And on the “Talking Animal Addicts” YouTube Channel-

http://www.youtube.com/user/talkinganimaladdicts

 

For the writers out there, I’ll talk more about what led to this decision at a later date, but that’s all for today. (Or tonight, if you live on EST [Eastern Standard Time] as I do…)

 

I’ll have more news about Gabriel in the coming months.

But you can always find out what’s new with Gabriel and Co. at: http://facebook.com/gabrielandrum

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

Happy New Year From Talking Animal Addicts

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The Literary Rat’s turning in early this year, so here’s an early “fireworks show.” Happy New Year From T.A.A.
-The Literary Rat
(aka Taurean J. Watkins [@Taurean_Watkins])
Founder and Editor-in-Chief
Talking Animal Addicts
#TAAHoliday2013

Happy Holidays From Talking Animal Addicts

 

T.A.A. is on Christmas Break, but here’s a quick video from your “Literary Rat” and my friends!

[sz-youtube url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QfFd3bxXQnw” userdata=”Taury” /]

 

We’ll be back New Year’s Eve (12.31.13) with a new update. Have a safe and Happy Holiday!

As always, may the fantastical fauna be with you!