Weekly Readings (T.A.A. CARES 2013 Edition)

TAA CARES 2013 Weekly Readings (FINAL)

 

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.

 

The Literary Rat and his team are still on holiday break, so this week we’re reprising our reviews of books that we back during the inaugural year of our T.A.A. CARES initiative. 

 

From High flying dogs, curious cats, and familial love, we’ve got something for everyone!

 

FETCH

 

FETCH

Written by Adam Glendon Sidwell

Illustrated by Edwin Rhemrev

Publisher: Future House Publishing

Pub. Date: May 15th, 2014

Of course, being a dog lover, this book couldn’t escape my radar, this  also has the honor of being the first Kickstarter that your lit rat put up some of his own limited finances, and inspired me to launch our “T.A.A. CARES” initiative to help authors and other creatives achieve their passion projects, and lend a proverbial paw to the word of mouth and when possible, contribute money to ensure they reach the finish line.

TAA CARES 3

 Learn how FETCH came to be-

Now having read the final book I can say without bias that it proved to worth the wait!

 

Like “Chalky and the New Sports Car” this books uses spare but effective text, letting the breaktaking illustrations give you a sense of transcending to a whole other world.

 

Fans of “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” will find this world of canine majesty just as full of enchanting possibilities as Equestria, and if anyone from the Hub Network* (*now Discovery Family Daytime) reads this, you may want to snatch up the television rights to this one! (just some friendly advice from The Literary Rat)

This a true love letter to dog lovers everywhere and I’m honored to give it T.A.A.’s Blue Ribbon of Approval-

FETCH (Blue Ribbon Ver.)

 

This is one book that will NEVER leave my private library-

 

TJW FETCH (FINAL 2)

 

Check out my fan book trailer for “FETCH”

Here’s the OFFICIAL trailer for

“FETCH”

 

 

 

Chalky

 

CHALKY AND THE NEW SPORTS CAR

Written by: Stanley Potter

Illustrated by: Jordan Henderson (@taleandteller)

Publisher: Little Thunder Co.

Pub. Date: February 1st, 2014

I got to be honest, I wasn’t always a fan of cats, as I had bad experiences with them in real life, this was long before I took the title of “Literary Rat” but after watching “Oliver and Company” several times in my youth (during the pre-Netflix era)  I slowly started to see the feline world differently…

 

I’m still an unabashed dog fancier, but there may come a day when a lad or lass of the feline persuasion will enter my life, but that’s another story…

While I often lament the “extremist minimalist” movement in picture books these days, this is one book where I don’t mind the spare narrative as it gives the reader and pre-reader lots of room to make the book their own.

The art truly LEAPS off the page, and the spare text does its job while leaving a lot to the imagination. The most apparently noticeable touch for all us wordsmiths or ones in training is the creative use of fonts.

 

GS and Cheese

(If you’re read Jon Scieszka’s “The Stinky Cheese Man” or the “Geronimo Stilton” series you know of what I speak) 

Most books about cats (at least when I was growing up)were stereotypically aimed at girls, and while that persists, this a book that I’m sure girls would love is also something boys would enjoy given Chalky’s rambunctious spirit and physically charged curiosity.

As my feline friend and colleague, Dempsey Woyzeck (of Swinebert & Dempsey) has said when I read him the story-

DEMPSEY POLAROID

 

“For every dog lover who got ‘stuck with a cat’ will find newfound respect and interest in the feline mystique.”

High praise straight from one well-read kitty!

 

(Since he too has a human who still wants a dog, but learned to love cats thanks to Dempsey)

Plus, those of you who LOVE kernels of truth in your reading will be glad to know that titular cat has a real life basis!

 

Learn how “Chalky” came to be,

and meet the REAL Chalky!

 

 

MY Love for You is the Sun

My LOVE for YOU is the SUN

by Julie Hedlund (@JulieFHedlund)

Illustrated by Susan Eaddy

Publisher: Little Bahalia Publishing

Pub. Date: September 9th 2014

 

NOTE from THE LITERARY RAT: I was given a review copy of this book, and aided in its crowdfunding campaign, but am not personally affiliated with either the book’s author, illustrator or publisher, other than sharing fellow respect for all the above as an author myself.

This is a re-post of my ORIGINAL review for “My Love for You is the Sun”

It’s often said that picture books are like poetry, partly because of their short length (barring historical or otherwise unique exceptions), and partly for even non-rhyming stories have a rhythm, a melody. Sometimes even a chorus (Even when the book’s not musically-themed).

“My Love for You is the Sun” is all of those things and more. Author Julie Hedlund (“ and the storybook app “A Shiver of Sharks“) uses a simple but effective rhyme scheme to tell a tale that’s further enhanced by the detailed mural-like illustrations by maverick artiste, Susan Eaddy.

If Art Clokey animated a bedtime story told by Gumby’s mother when he was born/created (only the Clokey Clan knows which is the case…), this is what it might look like. 

 

I’m not a parent yet (and some days I wonder if I’d be a “Good Enough” one), but if I do take that path, this book will be read to however many of them I have, and I’m honored I had played a small part in bringing this book, and to see a look of pride in my kid(s) eyes when they see my name in the acknowledgements, would be cool.

 

Check out your lit. rat’s fan book trailer

(Made with the help of my podcasting friends)

 

If you need further convincing,

check out the OFFICIAL book trailer

(Made by the author herself)

That’s it for Weekly Readings, check back 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.

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9780803741003

 

 

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!

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 XIII

 

 

 

Weekly Readings 13 G+

 

 

Welcome to another addition of

“Weekly Readings”

 

For those new here, 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’re taking a walk on the anti-hero side, between robber dogs, dogs on the lam, and weasels who want to take over the world!

 

It’s just a typical day in the world of fantastic fauna, and your lit. rat (ever on the side of good) chronicles it for you, my precious readers-

 

 

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Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam

by Tracey Corderoy (@TraceyCorderoy)

Illustrated by Steven Lenton (@2dscrumptious)

Publisher: Nosy Crow

[An Imprint of Candlewick Press (@Candlewick)]

Pub. Date: August 6th, 2013

 

 

Whoever said it’s easier to make a dishonest living never met Shifty and Sam, two dogs with major hard luck in the thievery racket.

 

For every “Artful Dodger” or “Bonnie and Clyde” there’s a  “Laurel and Hardy” of the robber fraternity, and that’s the badge of dishonor these dogs wear. Their “Swag” bag often empty of loot, and as such short on money. 

 

One night, they hatch their most promising plan yet, invite their neighbors to tea, treat them to bite-sized feast, then slip out and ransack faster than you can say “R.S.V.P.”

 

The only thing is: they can’t afford to get a ready-made spread, and they’ve never baked before!

 

But hey, desperate times call for learning the precise measurements behind baking, and as a fledgling home baker myself, that’s no idle matter.

 

Luckily with a cookery book on their paws, and the gumption only desperation can bring about, they surprise themselves (and their guests) with a feast of truly delectable edibles.

 

“Operation: Trojan Tea Party” didn’t go off without a hitch, but that’s only the beginning of their problems…

 

Author Tracey Corderoy uses a light rhyming scheme and couplet paragraphs that convey a concise yet complete narrative that nicely blends with Steven Lenton’s illustrations that use color, light and shadows to excellent effect, I truly felt like I was living out a short film as I read through.

 

While we at T.A.A. don’t condone theft, of course, we do support anyone who changes their ways for the better, and without spoiling the ending, let’s just say “Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam” bring a fresh spin on the often spoken adage “Crime Doesn’t Pay.”

 

To invoke the words of Jiminy Cricket “Let your conscience be your guide.”

 

 

 

Here’s our fan book trailer for

“Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam”

 

 

NOTE FROM THE LITERARY RAT: I’m also happy to share that another “Shifty and Sam” book is in the works! Your lit. rat will keep you posted as more details are available.

 

 

 

 

 

 

9780802787484

 

Bad Dog

by Nina Laden

Publisher: Walker Children’s Books

Pub. Date: September 1st, 2000

 

Often people describe picture books being akin to poetry and song, and “Bad Dog” is a brilliantly executed example.

 

A misreading of a newspaper ad about “Free Range Chickens” sends a hungry and spirited dog and his fellow canine buddy on a road trip of escalating proportions!

 

 

Anyone who’s tried to write in rhyme (including your lit. rat) knows it’s as HARD to do as it is effortless to read the best examples, and Nina’s rhyme scheme*  (*by which I mean “pattern”) allows a, without the potential burden of executing a “Madeline” rhyme on EVERY word of EVERY sentence.

 

If I were a musician I’d be DYING to turn this book into a song. Somewhere between Simon and Garfunkel’s 

“A Poem on the Underground Wall” [from their album “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme“] and the theme song for “CatDog.” (Yes, your lit. rat was a 90s kid, what of it?)

 

Nina’s Colorful illustrations really capture the sense of unleashed abandon (no pun intended) as our canine bros hit the road, dodging the cops, all in the name of fine and free range chicken, or something like that… 

 

“Bad Dog” is despite it’s title, a “Howling Good Time” pun fully intended here!

 

Last, but FAR from least, 

 

 

Weasels

WEASELS

By Elys Dolan ()

Publisher: Candlewick Press (@Candlewick)

Pub. Date: February 25th, 2014

 

This was one of T.A.A.’s “Most Anticipated Reads of 2014” during our celebration of “Picture Book Month” in 2013, and your lit. rat’s happy to report it lived up to that title.

 

While this rat likes to use his powers for good, the titular varmints of this book take pride and revelry in their often typecast role as the mischief makers who will settle for nothing less than WORLD DOMINATION.

 

A stark contrast to the novel, “The Wainscott Weasel” that we reviewed on T.A.A. recently.

 

 

Elys Dolan’s detailed and pop art doodle illustrations make excellent use of the added page real estate that comes with this book’s hefty size an width.

 

While short on words, this book is LONG on re-read value by giving the pre-reader (and the reader) lots of eye candy to bring more of themselves into the story.

 

I felt like each page spread was a movie set just waiting to be animated (it could double as a splendid interactive storybook app or dare I say animated special, hint-hint…)

 

Move over “Pinky and the Brain“, the WEASELS are bringing world domination out of the ’90s and into the 21st Century!

 

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

 

NOTE FROM THE LITERARY RAT: I’m also happy to share that another “Shifty and Sam” book is in the works! Your lit. rat will keep you posted as more details are available.

Weekly Readings XII

 

 

 

 

Weekly Readings XII (12) 2.5

 

Welcome to another edition of

Weekly Readings! 

 

Usually, Weekly Readings is when your lit. rat reviews a mix of picture books, and just recently we’ve extended into early readers, middle grade (and some YA) novels.

 

This week, I’m focusing on one book close to your lit. rat’s heart that’s celebrating a very special event- 

 

The Wainscott Weasel

The Wainscott Weasel

by Tor Seidler

Illustrated by Fred Marcelino

Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers 

(Imprint of Simon & Schuster

[@SimonKIDS] | [@simonschuster] )

Pub. Date: September 1st, 2014

 

 

A Rat's Tale + The Revenge of Randal-Reese-Rat

Those who know your lit. rat well knows that one of my favorite authors is Tor Seidler, and a bit after reading

“A Rat’s Tale” (the book that inspired me to write GABRIEL) and its companion follow-up “The Revenge of Randal Reese-Rat” (Illustrated by Brett Helquist) first hooked me into the idea that books could entertain, not just inform.

Often heralded as the “Modern E.B. White” Tor Seidler is one of several authors whom I feel set the gold standard of animal fantasy today that doesn’t follow the clan-based warfare tradition set by the late Brian Jacques’ “Redwall” or the multi-faceted/multi-series feral cat clan epic “Warriors” franchise by Erin Hunter.

As much as I love picture books, one of my missions on T.A.A. is to remind people that our love on fantastical fauna tales don’t have to die just because we leave preschool behind, in fact, they should expanded on and re-imagined, and “The Wainscott Weasel” is another jewel in this author’s proverbial crown of literary achievements.

 

I’m a stickler for stories about offbeat loners and outcasts, so I fell in love with Bagley right away. I was never in love with a fish, mind you, but I had my own “Tragic First Love” story moment that I’m only just starting to make peace with now, but that’s another story I might tell another time…

 

But like Bagley, I often kept to myself, not always because I wanted to, but because I was painfully shy and awkward with people face-to-face, or to be more positive, in-person socialization skills were/are a work in progress for me.

 

Also like Bagley, I have a relative who (while I’m not named after) who I struggled to live up to the model she gave me but could not. But again, that’s a whole other story to be told another time…

 

The late and great Fred Marcelino graced us with some of his BEST work in his short-lived career.

 

Those who belittle or make light of the skill it takes to create children’s books in particular are simply blind to books such as this one. 

 

The illustrations in “The Wainscott Weasel” are nothing short fine art. But fine art that’s open to anyone, wherever you live, at any time you wish, and thanks to this reissue, affordable to nearly anyone, and if you’re short on finances, that’s what our libraries are for.

 

I’d love this book on the merit of the prose and story alone, but Fred’s illustrations brought the Wainscott Woods, and it’s residents to life in visual form, and trust me when I say the gorgeous cover is only the beginning of the art exhibition side by side with literature. 

 

There’s never been a better time to be a Tor Seidler fan, and especially “The Wainscott Weasel” as it’s reissue is just in time to celebrate the 20th Anniversary

 

The Wainscott Weasel (Anniversary II)

 

“The Wainscott Weasel” was originally published in 1994 by an imprint of HarperCollins, and went out of print in 2007, which was around the time my love of books started to grow in earnest, when I first discovered it in .

 

I most likely purchased one of the last print run of paperbacks, it was so freshly printed, there was a mark of ink that hadn’t dried when it arrived at my doorstep.

 

I’ve long wanted to recommend this book, but because it was out of print, it was hard to find, and would go for tons of money on eBay, it would be out of reach of many people, unless their library had a copy of the previous printing from its original publisher.

 

FirstbornSo, I’m so grateful that Kate Wilson (one of my writer friends) led me to an article where I learned that this wonderful book was being reprinted (also available in ebook form for the first time!), and not only that, but author Tor Seidler was releasing his next novel, “Firstborn(illustrated by Chris Sheban) coming out in early 2015, and you can bet your lit. rat will be reviewing that in good time! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gully's Travels

 

His most recent novel was

“Gully’s Travels”

(illustrated by Brock Cole) released September 1st, 2008.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mean Margaret

 

His book “Mean Margret” (Illustrated by Jon Agee) was a National Book Award Finalist back in 1997 and, also was recently re-issued by Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out our fan book trailer for 

“The Wainscott Weasel”

 

 

If you’ve read “The Wainscott Weasel” in it’s previous lifetime, please share your favorite characters, memories, and scenes in the comments below, but PLEASE be spoiler-free to respect the newcomers to this book. The Literary Rat thanks you in advance.

 

You can also share your thoughts to our active Twitter community using the hashtag- #BackToWainscott

 

(@TAA_Editor is our Twitter Handle)

 

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

 

NOTE FROM THE LITERARY RAT: If my ramblings convinced you to buy (or pre-order) 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).

 

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Weekly Readings X

 Weekly Readings X (10)

Welcome one and all to another edition of Weekly Readings!

 

For those new here, 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…

 

Last week, we did our first leap in to middle grade novels after spending the last two years establishing our picture book reviews, but this week we’re back to picture books.

 

 

This week, T.A.A.’s going “Back to School” with some books for the young scholar (or scholars) in your life.

 

 

We originally meant to time this with the start of the (U.S.) 2014-2015 school year.

 

But life and tech happens, and hey, sometimes “Better late than never” is NOT the worst thing in the world! (Just a word to the wise and SANE from your lit. rat)

 

 

In this double feature review session, we’ve got a tried and true dynamic duo who’ve earned their honors, and a freshman fighting for the right to read who’d make recent Nobel Peace Prize winner, Malala Yousafzai proud-

 

A Library Book For Bear

 

A Library Book For Bear

by Bonny Becker

Illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton

Publisher: Candlewick Press (@Candlewick)

Pub. Date: July 22nd, 2014

 

The curmudgeonly ursine and unflappable rodent have been charming and cracking up readers since their inaugural outing, “A Visitor for Bear” WAY back in 2008-

 

 

A Visitor For Bear

 

 

Thankfully, the dawn of the “Great Recession”

didn’t take this duo out with it.

 

As the title of this recent installment implies, we’re heading to one your lit. rat’s favorite places, but guess who’s not yet jazzed about the concept…

As usual, set in his ways Bear thinks he has all the books he needs at home. (Something my grandma might wish was my mindset, given the MANY books in this lit. rat’s private library, without actually having a dedicated library room…)

 

But ever the patient “Agony Uncle”Mouse tries to get his grumpy buddy bear (not to be confused with THE Grumpy Bear of “Care Bears” fame) to take a bite out of the literary melting pot we lovingly call: the library!

 

Once again, author Bonny Becker (who wrote one of my fave under-appreciated novels, “Holbrook – A Lizard’s Tale“) and illustrator Kady MacDonald Denton team up for the 5th time reminding readers young and old that libraries ROCK!

 

Another way you can support authors you love, while feeding your reader addiction even when you’re on a tighter budget than you’d like.

 

It’s also important for those of us more able to buy books to help our libraries out by donating new or gently used copies, especially library systems like my hometown of Detroit, Michigan (aka T.A.A. HQ),that’s so cash strapped even titles from just LAST YEAR (of the book’s pub. date) aren’t available in the system.

 

Which often means I can’t always find books I want to read and/or review via DPL (Even through inter-library loan).

 

It’s something I plan to take action on for 2015, more on that in the near future…

 

Out next title is the new kid on the block (not the musical group) that I’m so psyched to share-

 

 

Rufus Goes To School

Rufus Goes to School

by Kim T. Griswell

Illustrated by Valeri Gorbachev

Publisher: Sterling Children’s Books (@SterlingBooks)

Pub. Date: August 6th, 2013

 

 

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.

Swinebert and Dempsey Title Cover #2

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-

TRUG-2.5

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.

 

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!

 

SWINEBERT (YOUTH)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.

 

 

Swinebert (Grown Up 1.5)

Uncle Swinebert's Signature (FINAL)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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).