Weekly Readings X

 Weekly Readings X (10)

Welcome one and all to another edition of Weekly Readings!


For those new here, Weekly Readings is when your lit. rat reviews books I’ve read here and there.


While T.A.A. focuses on animal stories, we do give humans their due now and again…


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



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



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


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



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


A Library Book For Bear


A Library Book For Bear

by Bonny Becker

Illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton

Publisher: Candlewick Press (@Candlewick)

Pub. Date: July 22nd, 2014


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



A Visitor For Bear



Thankfully, the dawn of the “Great Recession”

didn’t take this duo out with it.


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



Rufus Goes To School

Rufus Goes to School

by Kim T. Griswell

Illustrated by Valeri Gorbachev

Publisher: Sterling Children’s Books (@SterlingBooks)

Pub. Date: August 6th, 2013



Rufus Leroy Williams III (you can just call him Rufus) is a little piglet, with a BIG, yet simple dream-


To read his favorite book, that at the moment he only can follow from the pictures.


Rufus decides to send himself to school so he can learn to read.


But has a heck of a time convincing the principal to let him attend.


He seems to confuse earnest pig Rufus for “The Big Bad Wolf” of Grimm’s fame, not in the man-eating sense, but thinking him more a preordained bully than potential scholar, thankfully Rufus remains unflappable in his quest to attend school.


How does he win this misguided principal over? You’ll have to read

and find out.


Valeri Gorbachev’s illustrations have this warm, unassuming charm matching well with Kim’s narrative, using repetition and rhythm to great effect.


The warm tone to the illustrations reminds me of the late and great Fred Marcelino, and dare I say, the legendary Richard Scarry, but his style’s all his own.

Swinebert and Dempsey Title Cover #2

Given the piggy nature of this book, I’ve asked Swinebert Glockchester (from T.A.A. FM’s “Swinebert & Dempsey”) to share his thoughts on the book-



Swinebert: This book reminds me of my nephew Trug’s first day of school-


He’s in 4th grade now, but when he first went to school, he was just as eager as Rufus to learn to read. 


Thankfully his school was open to him from the start, though Trug told me the janitor looked at him in a “Scary Mean” way whenever he saw him.


Apparently, he’d been told the myth that pigs are always messy and smelly slobs that would make his job all the harder.


Let me make one thing clear, it’s true we pigs like to get messy and muddy, but we’re not all slobs in every circumstance, and as far as Trug and me, we know there’s a time and place to be muddy and a time to be clean and neat, and at school (especially a human/nonhuman school like Trug’s) it’s best to be clean and neat!


SWINEBERT (YOUTH)That said, I went to an all piglet school when I lived on a ranch outside of New York City, and we did have a “Mud Bath” period, but we always showered off afterwards.






(Swinebert  in the flush of youth)


Reading “Rufus Goes to School” brought back all those memories of Trug’s (and yours truly) first days of school: the good times, bad times, sad times, and all the times in-between.



Swinebert (Grown Up 1.5)

Uncle Swinebert's Signature (FINAL)













Follow  Swinebert (and his feline pal, Dempsey) on Twitter via @Swinebert_and_D


facebook-346725←They’re also on Facebook!




That’s it for Weekly Readings. See you next



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).