Australia Day

 Australia Day 2015 Banner BETA

 

Today’s “Australia Day” where the citizens of the frontier continent celebrate their storied culture and heritage.

 

T.A.A. HQ may be based in the U.S. but we do our best to honor our community of our fantastic fauna lovers all over the world.

 

In celebration, your lit. rat will share some of his favorite things with ties to Australia.

 

While we primarily focus on books, T.A.A. also wants to give needed love to other mediums kids and grown-ups love, such as television and film and here are some Aussie-Centric entertainment picks that your lit. rat thinks are worth your family’s “Screen Time.”

 

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Before the “CGI Revolution” dominated the current world of animation, one of the last gems of the “Old School” stop-motion series was “The Koala Brothers” about a pair of brothers who do what they can to assist their friends in a small rural town in the Australian Outback. First aired in 2003, it’s won many awards in accolades in the U.K. It eventually came to America (more on that below)

 

While I was technically WAY past the target age group when this series first aired (15 to be exact) I was ensnared by its charming animation and slice of life approach which is rare for shows aimed at where there’s usually a heavy academic hook of some kind.

 

While I’m all for shows like “Dinosaur Train” or “The Magic School Bus(based on the iconic book series of the same name)  that weave in science and still engage on an entertainment level, there always need to be shows that are simply fun for their own sake, but have a little more depth than the typical “Saturday Morning Cartoon” fare.

 

Programs like “The Koala Brothers” help round out the “Edutainment” onslaught in a lot of children’s television today.

 

Yes, these shows touch on social skills and working as a team, but rather than do a “Rule of Three” breakdown, it just happens naturally through the story being told. It gives the Similar to shows that don’t have laugh tracks, they let the audience decide what they want to take away without a laugh track or other gimmicks getting between them and the content.

 

I’m not at all saying the direct, pseudo-interactive approach that “Dora the Explorer” or “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” shoot for can’t work, clearly it speaks to countless children across the country (or the world in Dora’s 10+ year history), but I love shows that let the viewers decide what’s funny, and what they want to learn from it.

 

An occasional narrator chiming in does “break the fourth wall” a tiny bit, but you really feel part of the world, without being verbally asked to join in.

 

If you (and your lit. rattlings) love shows like “The Backyardigans“,  “Olivia” (Based on Ian Falconer’s iconic picture book series of the same name)  and “Maggie and The Ferocious Beast(Another modern classic) this series might be up your alley.

 

It used to air in the U.S. on Disney Channel during it’s “Playhouse Disney” morning programming block (this was prior to the “Disney Junior” re-branding back in 2010) and until mid-2014 aired on “Disney Junior The Channel” where I saw it again for the first time in over a decade and it’s still as comforting as I remembered it.

 

Selected episodes were released on DVD a few years back in the U.S., but I’m not sure if they’re still available.

 

If you’re curious, you can see a sample episode!

NOTE FROM THE LITERARY RAT: Part of the intro is cut down for time and one music cue is missing, but otherwise a nice taste until someone brings out a complete series set…

 

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This is one of those movies that can be hit or miss depending on three things-

 

-How much you love dogs. (of course!)

-Dealing with a tiny dash of teen angst.

-And an itsy bit of cheesiness doesn’t bother you.

Meet all the above, than this flick’s for you!

 

 

 GUIDO's GLAM SHOT

 

I dare say my canine pal, Guido (from Guido and Bonnie) would enjoy this movie, too!

 

 

Okay, now let’s talk books! 

 

I only just learned many of my favorite authors were born and/or raised in Australia, and one of them is Gus Gordon, who wrote/illustrated one of my favorite books of 2013, “Herman and Rosie.”

 

Herman and Rosie

Herman and Rosie

by Gus Gordon (@IllustratorGus)

(AU) Publisher: Viking

(An Imprint of Penguin AU)

(U.S.) Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

(An Imprint of Macmillan)

(U.S.) Pub. Date: October 15th, 2013

 

 

Check out my fan book trailer for

“Herman and Rosie”

 

Check Out your lit. rat’s review of  

“Herman and Rosie.”

 

Learn More about Gus, his books, and more at his website: http://www.gusgordon.com 

He’s Also on Facebook!

 

RAJ

Another author with ties to Australia is John Flanagan

best known for his bestselling “Ranger’s Apprentice” series.

 

Graeme Base + AnimaliaOur next author from down under is author-illustrator Graeme Base, whose best known book is “Animalia” which was adapted into an animated television series 

in 2008 by Cyber Group Studios.

Learn more about Graeme, his books, and buy his original artwork at his OFFICIAL website: http://www.graemebase.com

 

 

Shauna Tan + The Arrival

Last, but FAR from least, is author-illustrator, Shauna Tan, best known for his wordless picture book  “The Arrival.”

Learn more about Shaun and his books

at his OFFICIAL website: http://www.shauntan.net

If you, or someone you know lives (or has lived) in Australia, please share your story in the comments below.

 

Also, if you’ve got a favorite book, film, or television series that was filmed in or by or set in Australia, please share in the comments below, too!

For our all T.A.A. fans Down Under, Happy Australia Day!

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

Weekly Readings XIV

Weekly Readings 14 (FINAL 2)

 

Welcome 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…

 

This week, we’ve got three charming dog tales, and a love story set to the backdrop of a dance-off. Essentially we’re talking “Romeo and Juliet” (minus the death), mixed with “So You Think You Can Dance” meets “Dancing with the Stars(minus the judges for both)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Perfect Place for Ted

A Perfect Place for Ted

by Leila Rudge

Publisher: Candlewick Press (@Candlewick)

Pub. Date: June 24th, 2014

 

Ted, like most dogs, wants a home, and after being passed over time and again in the pet store, decides to take matters into his own paws.

 

With only the green jumper* (*Lingo for “Sweater”) on his back, and a dream in his heart, Ted embarks on a quest to find his “Ever After” home!  

 

He tries getting hired by a circus, but doesn’t make the cut, to being a show dog on the pageant circuit, but isn’t able to stand out from the competition. Finally, he takes a stab at being a guard dog, but isn’t assertive enough…

 

Ted starts to wonder if there is a “Perfect Place”

for him to call home…

 

Author-Illustrator Leila Rudge uses a classic watercolor style, warm color palette, and subtle line art to bring Ted’s earnest journey to life.

 

Despite the potential issues of giving someone a real pet for their birthday or the holidays, dog lovers should have no qualms whatsoever gifting “A Perfect Place for Ted” to the pet parents in your life.

 

Check Out Our Fan Book Trailer For

“A Perfect Place For Ted”

 

 

Gaston

Gaston

by KellyDiPucchio (@kellydipucchio)

Illustrated by Christian Robinson

Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers 

(Imprint of Simon & Schuster

[@SimonKIDS] |[@simonschuster] )

Pub. Date: June 3rd, 2014

 

I LOVE the retro-inspired art style employed by illustrator Christian Robinson, helping stand out from the many hyper-technicolor titles on the book shelf, but speaks to the retro-naunt in me and others.

Kids from adoptive or blended families will find a relatable friend in the titular canine’s story of being comfortable in your own skin (or fur, in his case), even when those closest to you don’t “get it” right away. 

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(Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” – Platinum Edition DVD cover)

It’s hard not to hear the name “Gaston” without thinking about the machismo meat-head from the Disney version of “Beauty and the Beast”, of whom, in my opinion is among the most normal* sleazebag of the varying antagonists from the 90s’ era. 

(*In this context, normal meaning not having powers of some kind)

But happily this Gaston is one I can get behind. 

I’m not going to sing it, but…I want a DOG like Gaston…

 

 

The Driftwood Ball

The Driftwood Ball

by Thomas Docherty

(U.K.) Publisher: Templar Publishing

(U.K.) Pub. Date: January 1st, 2014

 

In addition to collaborating with his wife and fellow author Helen (See our profile on them from our Picture Book Month 2013 author/illustrator spotlight), author-illustrator Thomas Docherty brings us his most recent solo outing about family feuds, high stakes dance offs, and true love, what more can a lit. rat need?

 

On one side you’ve got badgers, who are prim, proper and composed, in dance terms they’re like a waltz. Form and technique are everything!

 

The otters by contrast are cool, casual, and thrive on improvisation, in dance they represent freestyle, with some hip-hop thrown in here and there. Whatever’s fun and flowing!

 

The Badgers find the otters crude and their dancing unrefined.

 

The otters think badgers are snobbish, wound too tight, and their dance moves stiff and soulless.

 

The only thing both species agree on is their love of dancing, but while “The Driftwood Ball” brings the two species together, competition and rivalry keep them apart in every way.

 

Until Celia (an otter) and George (a badger) meet in secret and have different ideas…

 

George likes how free and soulful the otters move,  and Celia’s enchanted by the composed technique of the badgers dancing, and the two soon learn to dance a little bit like the other, until they create a dance style all their own, and fall in love…

 

When titular dance-off “The Driftwood Ball” begins, the feuding species are stunned to find Celia and George dancing together, a first for this bitter rivalry charged event, and from there a new normal takes hold that I won’t spoil here…

 

What I love most about Thomas Docherty is how he tailors his illustration style for each of his books, be they his own, or when visualizing another author’s work.

 

While there some slight nods to the style used in “The Snatchabook” his previous book (written by his wife, Helen) this book is about movement and a more tropical color palette, versus the Seuss-inspired two-tone impressionistic tone taken in the verse-driven tale.

 

T.A.A. nominated this book as one of our first “Most Anticipated Reads” back in 2013 (before it’s release) so you may be wondering why it took a year after it published to review it…

 

The road to reviewing this book is long and complicated, but to give you the abridged version, this book isn’t (YET) out in the U.S., and since T.A.A. HQ is based stateside, your lit. rat didn’t realize that at the time I nominated it this book is still kind of a U.K./Europe exclusive at the time this review is being written…

 

That’s why I want to give special thanks to my Twitter friend, Anne-Marie (@ChildLedChaos), for sending me a copy from the U.K. You made reviewing this book possible.

 

I hope “The Driftwood Ball” comes to the rest of the world soon, but while T.A.A. primarily reviews books that are fairly accessible worldwide, our goal is to be as global community as possible, and while many of Thomas Docherty’s older solo picture books solo books are available worldwide, this sadly remains a U.K. exclusive, but when that changes, T.A.A. will let you know. 

 

That said, for our Euro/U.K. T.A.A. fans, “The Driftwood Ball’s a must-read, especially if you’ve got little movers and groovers in your life!

 

This book earned the honor of being one of our  “Most Anticipated Reads of 2014”, and if you’ve the spare cash and patience for intercontinental shipping, this is a book worth importing!

 

The Snatchabook (U.S. and U.K. Edictions) 3

(U.S./U.K. Covers for “The Snatchabook”)

Also, check out our review of

“The Snatchabook” his previous collaboration with his wife and fellow author Helen.

AbracazebraFinally, keep an eye out for their newest book,”Abracazebra” one of our “Most Anticipated Reads of 2015” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UPDATE (1/21/15): I learned from author Helen Docherty that “Abracazebra” has not yet found a U.S. publisher, so it remains a U.K./Europe exclusive for now, I apologize for the transformation

(I’ll not rely Amazon for release info of international titles again!)

But it’s still one of our “Most Anticipated Reads” and I will still review the book as planned, Helen was kind enough to offer sending us a copy! Thanks Helen! When “Abracazebra” does come stateside, your lit. rat will let you know! But I encourage our U.K. fans to check it out.

 

Mogie - The Heart of the House

Mogie

The Heart of the House

by Kathi Appelt

Illustrated by Marc Rosenthal

 Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers

(Imprint of Simon & Schuster)

[@simonschuster]  |  [@SimonKIDS]  

Pub. Date: June 10th, 2014

 

Kathi Appelt, while best known for her novels The Underneath and the “The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp

(A national Book Award Finalist) she’s also written numerous picture books, and this is the first your lit. rat has read, and definitely NOT the last!

 

The Underneath and The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp

Illustrator Marc Rosenthal’s charming illustrations uses minimal background detail to highlight our titular furry friend as he offers a friendly paw to one of the many children who misses the days when he ran free in the great outdoors.

 

On top of being a charming book on it’s own, part of the sales of this book benefits the “Ronald McDonald House” a facility where families with ill and injured children can find a safe haven on their road to recovery, and dogs (like Mogie) are part of the staff as therapy dogs, who in many ways they’re like canine nurses (short of giving shots or cleaning bedpans), offering comfort and a playful distraction from the struggles their young charges face.

 

One last thing,TAA CARES 3

TAA CARES, our initiative to help authors and other content creators in need is gearing up for our first featured project of 2015.

Bestselling author Laura Numeroff

(“If You Give A Mouse A Cookie”) 

is re-launching her wfb_logo_x2Kickstarter campaign for “Work for Biscuits” a book and multimedia series starring andsupporting service dogs in training and in the field.

 

If you can, please consider contributing to her funds the first day to help build momentum so the project can successfully fund the second time around. 

 

 

Even if you can’t spare the cash, please help me and my fantastic fauna team spread the good word, especially if you or the lit. rattlings in your life are Laura Numeroff fans!

If you’re unversed in the concept of crowdfunding, check out my previous posts on the subject as your lit. rat will be embarking this path for my upcoming middle grade novel “GABRIEL

 

The Literary Rat’s Crowdfunding Chronicles – Part 1: Overview

 

The Literary Rat’s Crowdfunding Chronicles – Part 2: Why Crowdfunding?

 

(You can also chat with Gabriel and  his friend Rum on Twitter via @GabrielandRum)

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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