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-




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.









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, 





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.

Picture Book Month 2013: The Finale: Part 2 – Future Releases


If you’re new to T.A.A. and missed our earlier posts during Picture Book Month 2013, check them out below- 


Picture Book Mania 

(Inaugural Post for T.A.A.’s participation in Picture Book Month 2013, and other more writer-centric events)

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

Picture Book Month – Author Spotlight #2: Katie Davis


Picture Book Month – Author Spotlight #3: Two Lost Lights of 2013

You can also find our spotlights and more picture book treats and tributes on our Pinterest board-



If you missed Part 1-

http://talkinganimaladdicts.com/picture-book-month-finale-part 1


Today is the last day of Picture Book Month, and T.A.A. wraps up with whetting your appetite for picture books due out in 2014*-

 (*As with many things book related, the release dates listed here are subject to change, and not all titles have an eBook version at the time this post was originally written)



A Day with the Animal Mechanics


A Day with the Animal Mechanics 

by Sharon Rentta

Publisher: Alison Green Books

(An Imprint of Scholastic)

Pub. Date: May 1, 2014

For the little “Fixer Upper” in your life.




Written by Jenny Offill 

Illustrated by Chris Appelhans

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade

(An imprint of Random  House Children’s Books)

Pub. Date: March 11th, 2014


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

UPDATE: Check out our full review!




By Tim Warnes

 Publisher: Tiger Tales/Little Tiger Press

Pub. Date: March 1st, 2014


Author-Illustrator Tim Warnes brings us cautionary tale with a twist. The “Old Chestnut” style to the illustration certainly helps my anticipation of this March 2014 release.


Jacob's New Dress

Jacob’s New Dress

Written  by Sarah and Ian Hoffman

Illustrated by Chris Case

Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company

Pub. Date: March 1st, 2014


As those who know me well know, I’m an advocate for N.T.B.M.


(Non-Traditional Boys and Men)

In the spirit of the song, “William’s Doll” (From “Free to be You and Me“) co-authors Sarah and Ian Hoffman bring readers a story that despite any potential controversy it sparks, touches on something every boy and man who was “Different” has to face, but all too often, in a negative and abusive context.

In a world where girls and women the world over are breaking boundaries and redefining what it means to be a girl or woman today, boys and men have been left behind (And LEFT OUT) of the local and increasingly GLOBAL conversation in this age of redefining their non-standard gender identity.

Even if your son/brother/nephew/etc. isn’t like Jacob, this book might be wise to keep on your eyes on when it launches early next year. Trust your Literary Rat on this one…I’m a non-traditional man and proud of it!




How to Cheer Up Dad

By Fred Koehler

Publisher: Dial 

Pub. Date: March 20, 2014


We need more Father-Son Stories in general. Enough said. (Until I review it, of course!)


Here Comes the Easter Cat




Written by Deborah Underwood

Illustrated by Claudia Rueda

Publisher: Dial

Pub. Date: January 28, 2014


It seems dogs aren’t the only rivals for this cat given the title of the latest from author Deborah Underwood, best known for “The Quiet Book” and it’s companion “The Loud Book.” Easter may be many months away (At the time this post is being written) but it never hurts to plan ahead with seasonal titles.


UPDATE: Check our review!


The Driftwood Ball



 The Driftwood Ball

   By Thomas Docherty

    Publisher: Templar Publishing

     Pub. Date: January 1st, 2014









Thomas Docherty’s next solo outing continues the grand tradition of “Going Your Own Way” by using the classic setting of a exclusionary social event with a fresh approach. This is one dance off I DON’T want to miss! (Says the Literary Rat with two left hind paws…)


For more on Thomas Docherty (And his author wife, Helen) check the links above for our author spotlight article featuring their previous solo and collaborative work.


Busy Bunny Days - In the Town, On the Farm & At the Port


Busy Bunny Days: In the Town, On the Farm & At the Port

By Britta Teckentrup

Publisher Chronicle Books 

Pub. Date: February 25, 2014


Think of Richard Scarry’s “Busy Town”

meets Disney’s “BunnyTown” and you have

a rabbit lover’s utopia in picture book form.

(Fun Fact: Your Literary Rat [Though not Chinese] was born in the “Year of the Rabbit” and I’ve had mixed feelings about that…)






By Elys Dolan ()

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Pub. Date: February 25th, 2014


As loyal T.A.A. readers know, I’m working on a fairy tale style novel (Working Title: The Baroque Weasel) but while my weasel is a hero, this picture book by author-illustrator Elys Dolan uses their classic role as a gang trouble making upstarts who try to take over the world.

Will they succeed? We’ll have to wait for February 2014 to find out…

UPDATE: Check Out Our Review!

Babar on Paradise Island

Babar on Paradise Island

Publisher: Abrams Books for Young Readers

Pub. Date: May 13, 2014

Much like other classic series such as Madeline and The Berenstain Bears, an extended family has carried on where the original creators left off, and the pachyderm who became King is off on yet another adventure, but will paradise turn out to be a foreboding misnomer?  



by Charlie Sutcliffe

Publisher: Tate Publishing

Originally Published: October 3rd, 2013 (U.K.)

(U.S.) Pub. Date: April 1st, 2014


First released in the U.K. in October 2013, Author-Illustrator Charlie Sutcliffe makes his picture book debut in the U.S. in 2014.

FINALLY, a potential male counterpart to Eloise and Madeline. Not sure it’ll rhyme as in the case of the latter…


Fancy Nancy and the Wedding of the Century

Fancy Nancy and the Wedding of the Century

by Jane O’Connor

Illustrated by

Robin Preiss Glasser

Publisher: HarperCollins

Pub. Date: April 8, 2014



The DIY Diva/Fashionista is back and fancier than ever.

What better than a wedding to bring the appropriate glam and big vocabulary to the table. Nancy may not always “Keep it Simple” but she always keeps things sensational!


I Am Otter

I Am Otter (@i_am_otter)

by Sam Garton (@SamuelGarton)

Publisher: Balzer + Bray 

(An Imprint of HarperCollins)

Pub. Date: April 29, 2014

Just like a certain “Wimpy Kid” this character began as a niche online experiment by author-illustrator Sam Garton, and is now entering the print book world in April 2014! Fans of Calvin and Hobbes and Katie Davis (The Latter of which was spotlighted for Picture Book Month 2013) will be in stitches when Otter struts in!

UPDATE: Check our review!

This is only a TASTE of the many picture books we have to look forward to in 2014. They’ll all available for pre-order now. (For those of you early bird shoppers)

If you’ve got an upcoming release that you’re excited for, or any comments on the books mentioned above, please share in the comments below. T.A.A. LOVES hearing from you, our precious readers.

Thanks for spending Picture Book Month with T.A.A. We’ll be back for 2014 and beyond. 

Regular blog posts will resume Monday, December 2nd, 2013. Until then, stay safe as Thanksgiving weekend in the U.S. continues, and as always-

May the fantastical fauna be with you.


P.S: Also take time to check out the 

OFFICIAL website for

Picture Book Month:http://www.picturebookmonth.com


UPDATE (12/3/13)piboidmo2013-winnerbadge-700x700

I got to 30 IDEAS in

PiBoIdMo 2013!