Panel By Panel (2nd Edition)

Panel by Panel (with Swinebert and Dempsey 2.5.5


Swinebert: Yo Chicks and Chickies!

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


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

Steven Universe #1-#5

Steven Universe: Vol. 1-5

Publisher: kaboom!

(from BOOM! Studios)




From Taurean J. Watkins 

[aka “The Literary Rat”] (@Taurean_Watkins


(Left, Taurean J. Watkins,  

Right,  Steven Univserse Banner)

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


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


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


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


Garnet, the strong sem-silent type.


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


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


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


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


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




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

Middle, Regular Show Blu-Ray Seasons 1-3

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

The Powerpuff Girls”)



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



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


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


It also naturally has a diverse cast of characters

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

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

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

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

Avatar and Korra

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

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

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

Steven Universe #1-#5

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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







Swinebert’s Thoughts

Swinebert (Grown Up 1.5)


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

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





Dempsey’s Thoughts


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


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


(Langley Woyzeck, Dempsey’s Older Brother)

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

Dominic Woyzeck

(Dominic Woyzeck, Dempsey’s Dad)

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

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

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



You Can Find Swinebert & Dempsey On Twitter via @Swinebert_and_D

(Tweet them! They don’t bite…)






☚ They’re also on Facebook! 



T.A.A. on YouTube 2

They also contribute videos to

T.A.A.’s YouTube channel!

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

Until then,

Keep reading, keep doodling,

and be careful not to get a papercut!


Oh, almost forgot-



(Steven Universe Intro –

Cartoon Network on YouTube)


Hey, we couldn’t feature something

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

Critter Chat with Swinebert & Dempsey Pt. 3

SD Critter Chat

This is part 3 of your lit. rat’s “Critter Chat” interview with swine-feline duo, Swinebert Glockchester and Dempsey Woyzeck, from T.A.A. FM’s upcoming podcast series, “Swinebert & Dempsey.


If you missed it or are new here, read part 1 of this interview. 


Check Our Part 2 of our interview


Okay, let’s jump back into it-


Taurean: Apart from our “Panel by Panel” column, what are some other things are you two working on for T.A.A.?




Swinebert: We’re also going to  do more video for T.A.A.’s YouTube channel, I’m doing a solo video series called “Swinebert Says” where I riff on my life in minerature. I do that on me and D’s Twitter account sometimes, and use #SwinebertSays, when I can fit it in! (LOL)


Dempsey: For me, I’m also doing a similar solo videos series called

“Life According To Dempsey” where like Swinebert, I also riff on my life, but also share bits about my family I don’t always share in other channels.

I sometimes do on Twitter and use #LifeAccordingToDempsey,

and like S.B., I can’t always fit that hash tag in, and mine’s WAY longer!

(Forepaw to Forehead)

Taurean: I can relate, I’m always battling length and engagement on Twitter, so I hear you both on that! What else are you working on?


(Swinebert & Dempsey’s “Hog Wild World Tour”

[TEASER] – Talking Animal Addicts on YouTube)

Swinebert: We’re also working on our first web series that chronicles our “World Tour Holiday” we went on last year, and I know the production of that’s been slow on your end, but we know it’ll be worth the wait.

Dempsey: Right you are, S.B., this was not only a fun trip, but is also changed our family (incl. our humans) in BIG ways, and we can’t wait to share the amazing life changes that occured because of our trip last summer.

Taurean: Thanks so much for taking time to chat with me.


Swinebert: Our pleasure, you’re as much a part of our family as you are our director/producer/PR guy.

Dempsey: Agreed, we look forward to sharing more with T.A.A. in the near future. 

Swinebert & Dempsey (Fancy 2-Shot) - FINAL

You can find Swinebert & Dempsey

on Twitter via @Swinebert_and_D

(Tweet them! They don’t bite…)





 They’re also on Facebook! 



T.A.A. on YouTube 2

They also contribute videos to T.A.A.’s

YouTube channel!

Finally, you can check out the video they did as part of fellow pet entrepenuers,

Stanley & Katrina’s

“Word of the Week” series.

(Produced by your lit. rat)

Visit their website at:

They’re on Twitter, too, via @StanleyNKatrina

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





Critter Chat with Swinebert & Dempsey Pt. 2

SD Critter Chat


This is part 2 of your lit. rat’s interview with swine-feline duo, Swinebert Glockchester and Dempsey Woyzeck, from T.A.A. FM’s upcoming podcast series, “Swinebert & Dempsey.


If you missed it or are new here, read part 1 of this interview. Okay, let’s jump back into it-

Taurean: Can you tell me about your fellow pet friends? What are they like?


Swinebert: Sure! We’ve got tons of them, but the ones we’re most tight with our next door neighbors: Clarke, a Jack-Russell mix (OBSESSED with aviation and motorcycles), and his feline roomies, Chuck and Lilac.

 Clark, Chuck and Lilac(Left, Clark, Right, Chuck and Lilac – Neighbors)

Swinebert: There are the squirrels who live in our  backyard. At first, we were enemies after the prize acorns that grow in the many oak trees in our backyard. We’ve long since resolved that and became friends.


It took them a lot longer to warm up to Dempsey, his being a cat and all, they worried he’d try to hunt them down, but 


THe Backlot Squirrels

 (The Backlot Squirrels – From Left to Right:

Little Wally, Mac, Hazel, and Filbert)


Swinebert: We also have plenty of family who live in White Oak Acres. While we of course consider our humans (and their kin) family, I’m talking about our non-human relations-


(Swinebert’s Nephew, Trug)

Swinebert: For me there’s my darling nephew, Trug, as our regulars know, and his folks: my brother, Ross, and my sis-in-law, Flair. My Ma, Pa and two kid sisters live back on the ranch where I was born. I video chat with them three times a week, and we visit each other when we can.


My Grand-Hog Wes lives at the ranch, too, but he’s always traveling, even at his age, he rarely slows down. I hope I’m that gutsy in my golden years!


Dempsey: For me, most of the Woyzeck clan live in various parts of the U.S. and Europe. I  have to give a nod to my Uncle Briggs, my dad’s adoptive hedgehog brother. He lives in another town, but visits us often.


Dominic Woyzeck and Briggs Woyzeck II

 (Left, Dominic, Dempsey’s Dad. Right, Dempsey’s Uncle Briggs)


On that note, my sister Nina’s also adopted, but she’s not a cat, or a hedgehog-she’s a goat.

The Woyzeck Family

(The Woyzeck  Family – From Left to Right: Dempsey, Langley, Nina, Dominic and Claire)

Dempsey: Here in White Oak Acres there’s my brother, Langley, kid sister Nina, and my parents, Dominic and Claire.

Uncle Doyle and Aunt Moxie

(Left, Uncle Doyle, Right, Aunt Moxie)

Dempsey: In Summer 2014, during me and S.B.’s world tour holiday, I got to meet my Uncle Doyle and Aunt Moxie. They live in London. 


Taurean: Who are some your other friends and neighbors, both human and non-human? How you meet? What are they like?



(Connect with Thorne Thistlestop 

via @TheBookishFox on Twitter!)

Swinebert: Well, you know of our friend, Thorne Thistlestop

(aka “The Bookish Fox”) who’s the librarian at “Bookmobile Sentinel.”  A traveling library in our neighborhood.


Taurean: Something I always love to ask duos like yourselves is, who are your favorite duos?


Swinebert: I’ve got a soft spot for the classics: Laurel and Hardy, Gilbert and Sullivan, Cagney and Lacey-Swinebert's Duos - FINAL TRANS

Swinebert: But of course we’ve got awesome duets today-

Joe and Sparky, Cork and Fuzz, Herman and Rosie, the list goes on!

Swinebert''s Duos 2

(Covers for “Joe and Spark Go To School”, “Cork and Fuzz: Spring Cleaning”, and Herman and Rosie)

Dempsey: The comic nerd in me would say “Batman and Robin” in particular the Tim Drake Robin, as he had the most bittersweet connection with the dark knight.

Dempsey's Duos - FINAL TRANS

Dempsey: Also, literary duos of note for me are: Tom Sawyer and Hukcleberry Finn”, “Holmes and Watson”, and “Phileas Fogg and Passepartout.”

Dempsey's Critter Chat Playlist - TRANS

(Covers for “The Essential Indigo Girls”, “The Essential Simon and Garfunkel”, “The Carpenters: Singles: 1969-1981)


Dempsey: But I also love musician duos such as “The Indigo Girls”,

“Simon and Garfunkel”, “Puffy AmiYumi” and “The Carpenters.”


Taurean: Of course at T.A.A. we LOVE books, but we’re lovers of television, too, what are some of your favorite shows?


Swinebert: Here’s the thing, Dempsey and I like a lot of the same shows, but we have our differing tastes. So, first we’ll start with shows one likes more than the other. That okay with you?


Taurean: Sure, please proceed.


Swinebert: Okay, I love shows that don’t just tickle my funny bone, but assaults it! Shows like Zatch Bell, various “Peanuts” Specials, and Kodocha.


I also love shows that have food at the center: Antique Bakery, Toriko, and I’m So PSYCHED that Yakitate Japan’s anime is coming stateside!


Dempsey : For my part I LOVE shows where you learn stuff, like “Modern Marvels.” and “Bill Nye The Science Guy” DVDs that’s both fun and informative. But I also love fun documenterary-style series stuff like “Unlikely Animal Friends.” If you think Swinebert and me are an “Odd Couple”, some of the unions formed between varting species are even more out there, and seriously, I’m surprised Disney hasn’t optioned some of these stories for film.


They need to do more of the cool animal films they had in the 60s, 80s and 90s again! Anway, my girfriend Celeine and I are both big fans of “Too Cute” and “Inuyasha.”

Taurean: So what are some shows you both like?

 Swinebert and Dempsey's Fave Shows - FINAL TRANS

Swinebert: We’re both fans of “Sailor Moon” 

(we’re both die hard romantics),

 Naurto, One Piece, Avatar: The Last Airbender

(the non-James Cameron version)

and “The Legend of Korra.”



Taurean: What books do you think would make a great film or animated series that don’t yet have one?


Swinebert:  Otter, like you, D and I are big fans, we first met Otter on Twitter  (@i_am_otter), and we’re looking forward to her two books in 2015!

Otter Trilogy

(Covers for “I Am Otter”, “Otter in Space”, and

“Otter Loves Halloween!”)

Swinebert: As I commented on in your review back in 2014, my nephew Trug had a NAJOR crush on her.


Even though Otter turned him down (and he’s still perplexed about why she offered instead to set him up with Giraffe…) I was nevertheless impressed with his courage. The game of love, despite how cynical, comical and downright trvial we portray it, is NOT a game for wimps.


Like most things in life, it takes the guts of an olympian athlete, the , and the blindless optomism that’s easier for kids like Trug (with so much life ahead of him) than folks like me, who while nowhere near my final years, sometimes have a harder time keeping the faith.


After all, I’ve had many crushes, a couple serious relationships, yet nothing steady at the moment.


As I said then and still stand by now, he’ll make the one who finally does look his way a happy mate.


For my own part, I still believe that I will find a sweetie sow who makes my piggy heart skip a beat, and feeling my trotters are strolling on clouds.


While it’s never fun to come up short: be that flunking a test you actually studied for, , or as in in Trug’s case “Not getting the girl’


Dempsey: “Varjak Paw” needs to be a movie, and an awesome one! I like how the book has the action of “Warriors” but does it’s own thing.


But I’d be open to an animated series if it was done right and they don’t stretch the story too thin in an episodic format. 


Apparently, it was optioned at one point,

but nothing came of it.


Someone PLEASE make this film (or animated series) before I’m out of my nine lives!

Varjak Paw Duet

(Covers for “Varjak Paw” and

“The Outlaw Varjak Paw”)

Panel by Panel (with Swinebert and Dempsey 2.5.5

(Panel By Panel: with Swinebert & Dempsey Logo)

Taurean: As some T.A.A. fans know, we just launched “Panel by Panel” our comics/graphic novel column where you guys, and myself, review titles and discuses trends and opinions about this vibrant medium.

(Steven Universe Intro –

Cartoon Network on YouTube)

[The Literary Rat DARES you to sing-along…]

Taurean: I know on Facebook, you’ve professed your love for “Steven Universe.” I’m a fan, too, and I recently checked out the comics put out by “BOOM Studios“, and I was skeptical at first, but they blew me away!


Swinebert: We felt the same way at first, though we were excited when  we first learned about them last summer (before new episodes of the series resumed after a LONG break where we feared it was canceled) , we’ve been burned by bad comic versions of television shows or films we love.

But when we heard what you had to say about the comics, we gave them a go for ourselcves. As a fellow “Steventhusiast” we knew we could trust your vouching for them.


Steven Universe #1-#5

(Steven Universe: Comics #1-#5, BOOM Studios)

Dempsey: We’ve read the first 5 books and knew we had to review these for “Panel by Panel” so you’ll have to wait and see what we thought…


To Be Continued…



Check back next Sunday for part 3 of my chat with Swinebert & Dempsey…


You’ll learn more about what they’re planning just for T.A.A. fans! A sneak peak of what they’re working on next, and a whole lot more!

Critter Chat with Swinebert & Dempsey Pt. 1

 SD Critter Chat

Today, you’re in for a treat, T.A.A. Fans!


Your lit. rat had the chance to interview two memebers of our growing extended family of in-house fantastic fauna.


Our favorite pig and cat duo, Swinebert Glockchester and Dempsey Woyzeck, from T.A.A. FM’s upcoming podcast series, “Swinebert & Dempsey.


Taurean: It’s so great to finally have a proper interview with you guys.

Swinebert:  Agreed, we’ve put this off for too long!

Dempsey: Truly, we’re looking forward to this.

Taurean: Okay, let’s get started. How did you two meet?


Swinebert: Our humans are friends, and decided to move in together, so by association, me and Dempsey became roomies.


Dempsey: We didn’t get along at first. We’d met many times before we all started living together.

But being in the same house meant the things we couldn’t stand about each other stood out more than when we only saw each other every now and then.

Taurean: What kind of things bugged you about each other?

Swinebert: Dempsey seemed like such a stick in the mud! He kept to himself a lot, always had his snout in a book, and didn’t say much to me, and when he did, it was usually because something I did was driving him nuts!

Dempsey: Swinebert has a very dynamic and impactful personality, as you well know…

His Brooklyn accent threw me for a loop in the beginning. He always sounded “angry” to me at first. 

Now I know it’s just how he talks, and find it endearing.

Plus, once I knew how S.B. sounds when he’s actually angry, his normal speaking voice became all the more endearing to me.

Swinebert: Thanks, I think…

Taurean: What are your humans like? What do they do for a living?


Ferenc (Kid + Adult) 








 (Swinebert’s Human: Ferenc Süto, left youth, right grown-up)

Swinebert: My human’s Ferenc Süto. He works in a café by day and goes to night school four times a week. His dream is to one day open his own restaurant.


Dempsey: My human’s Vermont, Vernie for short. He works in a bookstore.  Like me he LOVES books!

He’s still not sure what he wants for a career, but his dream is to inspire teens who don’t read for fun, to learn that love for literature. He also works part-time at a pub once a week, usually a Friday.

Taurean: Dempsey, I know you’ve mentioned in videos recently you have a girlfriend. Mind sharing a bit about her?

Céline 2.5

 (Cèline, Dempsey’s Girlfriend)


Dempsey: Sure! Cèline and I have been together almost 8 years. We first met at a pet parents potluck my human Vernie threw trying to connect with more pet parents to find potential pet-sitters for Swinebert and me in case our usual one can’t make it.

Swinebert: Cèline’s human became our back up pet-sitter, and she’ brought Cèline to our place. Her and D clicked *claps hooves* like that. She was kind of freaked out by me at first.

Being a city cat she’d never met a studly hog such as myself up close before. But we’re buds now.

Taurean: That’s good to know. Have you got a sweetheart of your own, Swinebert?


Swinebert: Not at the moment, but I hope that’’’ will change someday.

Dempsey: I know it will, S.B. Hang in there. It took me several years before Cèline and I met.


To be continued…


Check back next Sunday for part 2 of my chat with Swinebert and Dempsey…

You’ll learn more about their friends and family, their city/town, White Oak Acres, and what they’re planning just for T.A.A. fans!


Until then, you can find them on Twitter via @Swinebert_and_D

(Tweet them! They don’t bite…)





 They’re also on Facebook! 



T.A.A. on YouTube 2

They also contribute videos to T.A.A.’s

YouTube channel!

Finally, you can check out the video they did as part of fellow pet entrepenuers,

Stanley & Katrina’s

“Word of the Week” series.

(Produced by your lit. rat)

Visit their website at:

They’re on Twitter, too, via @StanleyNKatrina

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





Weekly Readings XVI

Weekly Readings 16Welcome 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’re giving one of our “Most Anticipated Reads of 2015” the V.I.P. treatment-



WOLFIE The Bunny

by Ame Dyckman 



Illustrated by Zachariah O’Hora


Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers [@littlebrown]

Pub. Date: February 17th, 2015




Few words can strike such sharp, striking, and varying emotions in people.


It’s bad enough having to deal with a drooling tag-along kid brother or sister invading your space, messing with your stuff, and hogging your parents attention with seemingly no end in sight! 


(Which depending on your age, and family dynamic, may be a drawback, or a plus…) 


But I’m guessing that on top of all that, you at least didn’t have the underlying concern of being EATEN by your tag-along sibling! 


That’s where “Wolfie The Bunny” comes in.


No sooner do Mama and Papa bunny discover an abandoned wolf pup at their doorstep, they don’t hesitate to take him in as their own, but Dot’s FAR from convinced this is a good idea, he’s a WOLF for bunny’s sake!

Do her folks not realize what wolves eat!? 

Sure, they’ll start out with milk or formula, but it’s only a matter of time before they crave meat.

From Chicken soup, to beef stew, lamb chops, and yes, even rabbit in mustard sauce…


But it seems Wolfie’s taken to veggies, especially carrots (of course), which is not the least surprising to his vegetarian mom and dad, but Dot’s certain this diet quirk won’t last long.


Eventually, Wolfie grows from a tiny pup, to becoming the biggest member of the household, which only makes Dot all the more anxious.


It’s hard enough being a big sister, even harder when your kid brother is now WAY BIGGER than you, and could give into his predatory instincts at any time.


But the only thing predatory about Wolfie is ever vigilant “stalking” Dot everywhere she goes.


Not to eat her, but simply to be near his lagomorph sister in that annoyingly clingy, yet sometimes endearing way little kids follow the big kids, even though in Wolfie’s case, he’s the bigger one!


When Dot runs an errand to the grocery store (reluctantly bringing Wolfie along) the inter-species sibling duo encounter one bully of a bear. 


It’s at this point the tables turn, and Dot begins to realize that while Wolfie may look big and scary to her on the outside, he’s still a pup on the inside, who needs a big sister like her who despite her size, doesn’t scare easily.


Even when going up against a bear of a bully bigger than both of them.


Those of you with siblings will especially find much humor and solace, whether you were the older sibling whose aptitude for patience runs only so deep, or you were the “baby” of the family who always wanted your older sibling’s cool cred.


Being an only child from a emotionally distant family, I still have tales of cousins who could drive me as crazy as if they were my siblings, only I was the “Wolfie” in those scenarios, but I never had a sister like Dot looking out for me, so he’s got an edge I didn’t have growing up.


Author Ame Dyckman uses spare text and punchy vocabulary that flows with the illustrations, creating that “magic of words and pictures” all picture books strive for.

Zachariah O’Hora’s illustrations have this ability to look modern and classic at the same time, yet have this edge to them which I’d describe as “Punk Lucy Cousins” with some splashes of Dick Bruna’s simple use of shapes, with a ’60s retro color palate that give this book a style all its own.


A stark contrast from the hipper, slightly ’40s inspired look in his solo outing “No fits, Nelson!” 


Those who parrot the common saying, “Times change, people don’t” be thankful you’re not near me when you say that…


Just like with many things in life, families HAVE CHANGED, and evolved, from the hyper-idealized two parents, 2.5 kids and maybe a pet or two.


I’m certainly not criticizing if you have such a family, of course, but families today can and do come in so many forms, and while we often “glorify” the deadbeat/dysfunctional families that have become media icons, we could stand to see more realistic and HAPPIER families in fiction.


Despite the old adage that happy families don’t make for good stories, take the “Swiss Family Robinson” for instance.  


They had a heralding adventure of survival, but they were FAR from the broken families the evening news seems to obsess themselves, and not always for the obvious reasons…


I think with so many kids and teens growing up in less than ideal family dynamics, they need to see more positive portrayals of what they may not get in their own life, while still containing  the conflict and stakes good books need.

While lack of non-stereotypical portrayals of ethnicity in children’s books sparked the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement in Spring 2014, what I feel gets lost in that important (and sadly needed) initiative is that diversity isn’t just about race.


It’s also about showing varied portrayals of gender roles and families today, whatever their racial identity, life orientation, or species, given our primary focus on T.A.A.


“Wolfie the Bunny” is one of the books, and most definitely lives up to being one of our “Most Anticipated Reads of 2015.”

Here’s The

“Wolfie the Bunny” trailer

(Created by John Schu/@MrSchuReads)


Also, see “What the Critters Say” about “Wolfie the Bunny”


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 (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: 


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).

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


Conseil_Tenu_par_les_Rats (Now Hear This)


I know I’ve been MIA a lot the last few months, and life stuff aside, it’s also due to a BIG project I’m about to undertake for my debut novel “GABRIEL” coming soon from Alten Ink-




Since Alten Ink is a small press, they face a unique set of challenges,

and after talking it over with my editor, I decided to launch a crowfunding campaign to be able to enlist the services of a professional illustrator, and cover other key expenses which I’ll detail prior to launching the campaign.



Before I go on, for those of you not yet in the know, crowdfunding is a process where authors and other creative types reach out to their wider community to not just donate money, but share in the belief of bringing their passion projects from dream to tangible reality. Below are a list of the most common crowdfunding platforms-

Kickstarter_Logo_a_lThe newest kid on the block in the crowdfunding arena. See a short tease from the “Kickstarted” documentary about Kickstarter’s Origins (which was also a successful Kickstarter project in and of itself! Talk about Meta-Much!)-





The oldest and most open global crowdfunding platform to date!* (*at the time this post is written).


Learn more About Indiegogo (and general advice from one of it’s co-founders) here-


Learn More about how the first Authors Only crowdfunding platform came to be from the VP/Co-founder herself-





As some of you long time T.A.A. fans may remember, in September 2013 we launched our “T.A.A. CARES” imitative, where we lend our time and money to promote and support authors and artists in need of a little extra help to bring them dream projects to life.


So far, the projects your lit. rat’s backed and spread the word on all met their funding goals, and are now published/will be seeing publication (Covers seen below)-

 T.A.A. CARES #1


by Adam Glendon Sidwell

Illustrated by Edwin Rhemrev

Publisher: Future House Publishing

(Check out T.A.A.’s review)


My LOVE for you is the SUN

by Julie Hedlund (@JulieFHedlund)

Illustrated by Susan Eaddy

Publisher: Little Bahalia Publishing

Pub, Date: September 9th 2014*

(Check out T.A.A.’s Review)


Chalky and the new Sports Car

by Stanley Potter

Illustrated by Jordan Henderson (@taleandteller)

Publisher: Little Thunder Co.

(Check out T.A.A.’s review)



While many children’s authors pitch picture books, comics/graphic novels, or projects with a serious educational bent, novelists like myself can and do use crowdfunding platforms to reach their publication dreams-


Learn The Story behind Rhoda’s Ocean-

Learn the Story behind “Steam In The Willows”


Soon, your lit. rat will be embarking on his crowdfunding adventure, and I hope you’ll be along for the ride. Check back T.A.A. throughout the coming weeks as I document my crowfunding saga.


You can learn see what Gabriel’s up to (and learn how to be part of our virtual promo team) on his newly launched OFFICIAL website! 


Next time, I’ll go over in-depth why I decided to enter the world of crowdfunding from more than the backer perspective.


Until then, have a safe weekend, and may the fantastical fauna be with you.