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-






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



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 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).

Weekly Readings VII


It’s been a LONG time coming, but welcome one and all to 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…This week, we’ve got a duet of Tough Guy tales with a twist-

 Big Mean Mike

Big Mean Mike

By Michelle Knudsen (@MichelleKnudsen)

Illustrated by Scott Magoon (@smagoon)

Publisher: Candlewick Press (U.S.) [@Candlewick]

Walker Books Ltd [@WalkerBooksUK] (U.K.)

Pub. Date: August 14, 2012


I’ve been wanting to read this book since it first came out back in 2012, but it took me FAR longer to finally get to it, but now I’ve finally got my paws on it, and now I get to share it with you, my precious readers.


Contrary to the title, this isn’t a “Big ‘n Bad, Huff and Puff Wolfie deal”, but rather the story of a roughneck canine who takes wears his Big and Mean image with pride. What better way to challenge that image then to be surrounded something opposite of big and mean, in this case: tiny and cute bunnies!


Illustrator Scott Magoon does a fabulous job sequencing the pacing through his illustrations, and smart use of lineart to infer motion and expression of the characters. be they central or extras in the background. 

As if to say “Mean Mutt versus Relentless Rabbits-SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY!” to loosely evoke the high octane spirit of monster truck shows, which is also featured in this book. I’m not a big car guy (despite living in Detroit [aka “The Motor City] my whole life), but I did have my dreams of owning and driving a vintage Ford Thunderbird.

Those of you who grew up with younger siblings (or relatives akin to siblings) will find much humor and catharsis as Mike is surrounded by bunnies at every turn. Or if you were the younger sibling, this is a humorous glimpse of how your big bro or sis felt whenever you tagged along against their will, whether you idolized him or liked to mess with her…(Or some combo thereof)

In any group of friends, there’s always that one or two friends that you might feel a bit embarrassed by, not because of who they are, but how it might look to those who don’t know that friend like you do. The title’s a bit of a misnomer, but as you read the story, you’ll see that’s part of the point.


Big Mean Mike is a non-preachy reminder that our self-image isn’t everything, nor is it one-dimensional.  I speak from personal experience in this matter.  


I started “Talking Animal Addicts” in large part to shed the shame I used to carry about being into something many others my age have “Grown out of”, or interested in things I was interested in others weren’t, like cooking and liking non-rap music.

All that to say, this is one of those books my 5 year old self could’ve used, but I’m glad it’s here now for the kids who need it, and this lit. rat’s honored to play some small part in spreading the good word, and to loosely quote Mike, “That’s EXACTLY how The Literary Rat likes it!” 


(Check Out the Fan Book Trailer I made for “Big Mean Mike”)

Fox and Fluff

Fox and Fluff

By Shutta Crum

Illustrated by John Bendall-Brunello

Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company


Pub. Date: September 1st 2002

 This is one of those I just happened to stumble across in one of my many book hunts, and I knew when I started doing book reviews on T.A.A. last year, I knew this was one of the books I’d most want to recommend.


I meant to to time this review for Father’s Day 2014, but life and tech got in the way, and hey, now more than ever before in recorded history, dads need empowering all throughout the year!

What happens when a hungry fox and orphaned baby chick meet? Not what you might think…

Fox decided to spare the poor “Mixed up” chick and takes his leave.  However, the chick (named Fluff)  has chosen Fox to be his “Papa.” Despite Fluff’s best efforts to be a hunting partner, Fox knows the only thing to do is leave Fluff in the care of others his own species. The only thing is, Fluff’s too “Foxy” for them! (Peep! Peep! Grr!)

While masterful mother and child books are eternally bountiful, we’re still playing catch up with dad and child stories, particularly ones that reflect the more varied and open-hearted fathers of the 21st Century, versus the dictating “Master of the House” image that for many families and cultures still persists today.


One of the issues I feel plagues a lot of dad and child stories (particularly in books for older readers)  is that they’re either silly to a fault or so strict you want to reach into the story, and drag them by the ear before they do their kid untold emotional damage…Or maybe that’s just me. Anyway, thankfully in the picture book space we’ve got dads of varying styles and temperaments. Similar to “Big Mean Mike”, Fox has an image to uphold, further enhanced by being a carnivore, he hunts bunnies, mice and the like-and Fluff’s attempts to “help his Papa” only complicates matters.


I usually am wary of “Accidental Dad” stories as they can make look more incompetent than they really are.


But this book avoids that pitfall as we see Fox slowly (by picture book standards) evolve from wanting to be rid of Fluff, to being unable to imagine life without him around.


The ending (which I won’t spoil here) is the cherry on top to a charming, well-told and drawn tale.


For anyone (especially you single dads out there) looking for the fatherly companion to “Are You My Mother?” look no more, you’ve found it in Fox and Fluff!

 (Check Out the Fan Book Trailer I made for “Fox and Fluff”)

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(s).

CROCODILE FLINT is now on Snippet and MORE


While I’ve mentioned this elsewhere, I’d been too busy with other stuff behind-the-scenes to formally share here. My first e-publication, Crocodile Flint, is available on Snippet for $1.99 USD-

[sz-youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_Qghl6ooo0″ /]

Enjoy the OFFICIAL Trailer!

I hope to have another update on GABRIEL (my debut novel) in the coming weeks.

Speaking of Gabriel, you can now chat with him and his “frenemy” Rum (featured in my debut novel) via Twitter! (@GabrielandRum) so give them a shout-out.


That’s all for today. But we’re always active on Facebook, Twitter, Google=and of course our YouTube Channel!

T.A.A.’s Next Big Thing

NOTE: For those of you who subscribe to our newsletter “Bites From The Cheese Shop” I apologize for the delay in bringing it out, I had lot of early year stuff I had to address, but will assume a regular schedule soon. Thanks for your patience.

Sorry I’ve been MIA much of this month. I’ve been busy with lots of boring offline stuff that had to get done, and there was a bit of drama regarding the status of my debut novel GABRIEL, which I’ll talk more about at a different time.

But today I’m happy to announce our newest project! If you follow us on YouTube, Twitter or Facebook (We’re also on Pinterest!), you’re already aware, but to you loyal blog readers I’m happy to announce our newest project for T.A.A. in 2014-




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




Here’s a promo for “Guido and Bonnie”  one of the shows available on T.A.A. FM-
(Plus, learn how to get your questions answered on the show!)


[sz-youtube url=”http://youtu.be/4pUqVKqVZSM” userdata=”Taury” /]

Another show debuting on T.A.A. FM is about a dynamic duo of a different sort…

[sz-youtube url=”http://youtu.be/N0Mlg4Zz7yg” userdata=”Taury” /]

T.A.A. fans, let’s make them feel welcome by sending them your support be tweeting out your congratulations to them via @Swinebert_and_D

(You can also find Guido and Bonnie on Twitter via @GuidoandBonnie)

I’ll have more details about these and other content on T.A.A. FM when we launch later this year. #TAAFM

You can always click  the “T.A.A. FM” tab at the top our homepage  as updates and behind-the scenes content is added before and after launch. Get ready, T.A.A. fans, soon you’ll be taking your fantastical fauna with you anytime, anywhere, via our podcasts. If you’ve got comments, questions, and suggestions for T.A.A. FM, feel free to share them below (And tell your friends about us!)

I’ll be inteviewing Guido and Bonnie along with Swinebert and Dempsey on the blog, and you can send them questions in the comments below or emailing me at taury-at-talkinganimaladdicts.com

They don’t have a website yet, but you can find Guido and Bonnie on Twitter (@GuidoandBonnie)

You can learn more about Swinebert and Dempsey via Facebook, Twitter (@Swinebert_and_D), and Pinterest

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

Picture Book Month Spotlight #1: Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

Today, to kick off our series of author and illustrator spotlights (In honor of Picture Book Month) we profile Author Julia Donaldson and illustrator Axel Scheffler (Who is also the author-illustrator of the Pip and Posy series), and we’ll start off by highlighting their latest book-

The Highway Rat

(*Click the cover image above if you’re interested in purchasing)

Fans of “The Gruffalo” will love the latest collaboration from author Julia Donaldson and illustrator Axel Scheffler where a wicked rat on horseback finds out “Crime Doesn’t Pay” in the most comical, knee-slapping ways, from the reader’s perspective, anyway…!

Being a literary rat who is on the side of good (And PROUD of it!) there is admittedly something to be said for my species “Classic” role as the villain, and the fact that Julia composed this story EXPERTLY IN RHYME, as she did in previous books A Gold Star for Zog, “Tabby McTat” and “Stick Man.” (All of which, also illustrated by Axel Scheffler) proves how compelling art and text can really be when they work together. Expect a more through review of this book in the future.

While many of Julia’s books have other various (And equally talented!) illustrators behind them (Such as “Jack and the Flumflum Tree” illustrated by David Roberts), Axel Scheffler’s bright and simple-yet-sophisticated illustrations brilliant compliments Julia’s “Harder to do than it looks, no, REALLY” rhyme scheme, makes for a art and text combo rarely seen since the previous “Golden Age” of children’s books in general, and picture books in particular.

Picture book Month is a great initiative to both celebrate picture books across the ages, it’s also a prime opportunity remind today’s authors, illustrators, and readers the world over that there are many authors and illustrators who are committed to picture books,  and to prove beyond doubt that like Madeline, Olivia, and Clifford the Big Red Dog before them, there are plenty of emerging examples of picture book characters in the 21st Century who are just as capable of having staying power beyond their time of creation. No less than their 20th Century (Or further) predecessors.

At T.A.A., we say celebrate the  OLD and the NEW, and remember that all  the “Classics” today, were once in the rookie’s corner, too. Check back for more author and illustrator spotlights throughout November.

 If you’ve read Julia Donaldson or Axel Scheffler’s books (Collaborative or Solo), please share your favorites in the comments below. T.A.A. LOVES to hear back from you, the readers.

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

*If I’ve hooked you into buying the book (or books)  mentioned above, please support T.A.A. by clicking the affiliate link cover (Or links to other books mentioned above) for the book above. Or check it out at your local public or school library.

Support them so they can stick around to support you or someone you love when you need it most.

Learn more about author, Julia Donaldson, and her many other books at her website-


Also, take time to check out the OFFICAL website for Picture Book Month-