Welcome one and all to another edition of Weekly Readings!
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 an otter’s intergalactic adventures, a boy who dares to be himself (dress and all), and beauty queen drama-Dino style!
Otter in Space (@i_am_otter)
by Sam Garton (@SamuelGarton)
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
(An Imprint of HarperCollins Children’s Books)
Pub. Date: May 5th, 2015
While on a trip to the museum, Otter becomes enthralled, (and just so you know, Otter [she comes around here sometimes, and I’m honored], many awesome paintings are made today, post the invention of crayons, just saying…)
But once at the space exhibit, Otter had discovered her newest passion: Space!
In particular, a fascination with the moon, and while scoring some stellar souvenirs from the museum’s gift shop, she was unable to get a commemorative moon rock.
Of course, Otter doesn’t give up, and after AGES of deep thought, she has a notion: Why not just snag the real deal?
So, with Teddy in tow, Otter begin preparations for her lunar mission…
Sam Garton’s illustrations have this warmth and charm about them that ground you in the world.
You always feel Otter’s “Always on the Move” spirit on every page.
Like in her debut book, Otter tells her story to us, first person POV is rarely used in picture books given it can read awkward;y when the reader is most often a parent or other adult, but like Eloise, it just works, and really, who than Otter herself better to tell us *“Pretty Much” exactly how it happened.
(*Bonus Points if you can guess in the comments what show I’m referencing. Hint, it involves pink hair and “Thinking Big.”)
It’s no secret T.A.A. LOVES Otter, not just your lit. rat, but our ever growing fantastic fauna team, especially my swine-feline duo, Swinebert Glockchester and Dempsey Woyzeck (from “Swinebert & Dempsey“), here’s what they had to say-
Yo Chicks and Chickies!
Dempsey and I are big fans of Otter, before we knew of her first book’s release, we met her on Twitter (We’re they’re, too, via @Swinebert_and_D) ,
and from there it’s been history in the making… I’m happy to report Otter’s new book is just as awesome as the first! It also reawakened memories of playing astronaut as a young piglet. I dreamed of being the first pig in space.
I didn’t achieve that dream, but I hope I live to see who will be the first pig in space, and despite certain propaganda on the web stating otherwise, we’ve yet to have pigs in space, may that change someday.
If I hear about the first otter in space, I’ll be sure to let my pal, Otter, know. (*Wink*)
My nephew Trug is a big fan of Otter, too, in fact, he had a MAJOR crush on her, but after bravely sharing his love letter to Otter (and the world), she turned him down, but he’s feeling a lot better about it now.
I have two nieces who LOVE Otter as much as S.B. and I do, and thanks to my knowing her (if only virtually) I’ve been dubbed the
Something my brother Langley,
is super jealous of. (Cackles Evilly….)
Just kidding, Langley, you know we love you!
(Cover For “I Am Otter” by Sam Garton)
Otter’s first book, “I Am Otter” was one of T.A.A.’s first “Most Anticipated Reads” in 2014, our inaugural year.
“Otter in Space” was among our “Most Anticipated Reads of 2015″ , and has proven worthy of this honor. Otter is someone I’m glad to know,
both on Twitter, and on my bookshelf.
Check Out “What The ‘Critters’ Say” About “Otter In Space”
Check Out The
OFFICIAL Trailer –
Jacob’s New Dress
Written by Sarah and Ian Hoffman
Illustrated by Chris Case
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
Pub. Date: March 1st, 2014
Jacob, like many kids loves to play pretend, and dress-up, being someone else for a time.
What set Jacob apart is that instead of pretending to be dinosaurs, dragons or superheroes, he liked to play princesses, something fellow classmate Christopher (a “typical boy”) doesn’t get, and when kids don’t get something, it’s grounds for ridicule.
Luckily for Jacob, his friend and fellow classmate Lily gets him, and at home, he could fully be himself, dress and all.
But even when Jacob wasn’t playing the princess, he felt more free in a dress than typical boyish wear.
Before I go any further, I want to commend co-authors Sarah and Ian Hoffman for having both courage and the conviction to tell this story, especially as it derived from personal experiences with their son.
Illustrator Chris Case really gave the visuals in this book a raw vibrancy that I’m always a fan of book covers that show off the most unique or dare I say, controversial aspects front and center.
When I first saw the cover last year I thought, “Work it, Jacob, this is your truth, own it!”
We need more boys like Jacob, to be themselves unapologetically, whatever that looks like for any of us.
“What the ‘Critters’ Say”
about “Jacob’s New Dress”
Tiara Saurus Rex
By Brianna Caplan Sayres (@BriannaSayres)
Illustrated by Mike Boldt (@MikeBoldt)
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Pub. Date: Feb 17th, 2015
The Literary Rat has seen many genre-bending masterpieces in his day.
Everything from heroic weasels, to a wolf raised by rabbits, and canine crooks turned cooks, but of all the books I read last year, “Tiara Saurus Rex” easily stands out among them.
Just like “Jacob’s New Dress”, “Tiara Saurus Rex” has a twist, a beauty pageant (a classic storytelling device among girls) starring dinosaurs, often depicted as a boy-centric obsession.
I could imagine this is one of the “after hours” activities the offspring of the “employed dinosaurs” and other prehistoric wildlife from “The Flintstones” might have.
Well, I couldn’t see Dino stomping (Or in his case, SPRINTING) on the catwalk, but him being a family pet versus a working critter, that’s understandable…
Among the many hopefuls, Tina (the T-Rex diva glamming it up on the cover) is the most confident she’ll win it all, and without spoiling the ending, let’s just say Tina’s got some stiff competition, and through it all, just might make a new friend instead of a bitter rival.
Forget shows like “Toddlers in Tiaras” or “Dance Moms” for a moment.
Pageants don’t have to be vicious war zones anymore than little league has to be a precursor to your child’s MLB prospects. Nor should it be.
With all due respect to serious young athletes who want to go pro, some of us just want to have fun and be fairly fit, okay?
I love that this book takes cues from child-centric pageants, and certainly influences of the iconic “Miss America” pageant sneak their way in, but retrofitted for the starlets-in-training, and Mike Boldt’s illustrations uses a splendid color palette that’s less “pinky” than you might suspect.
While I personally don’t have issues with the color pink in general (it’s my second favorite color after red), I know it can be a “touchy subject” for some, wherever you are on the gender spectrum, and I’ll just leave it at that.
“Tiara Saurus Rex” does for pageantry what “Dinosaur Train” does for the dino-lovers in general, and the sciences in particular, entertains and delights to the 10th power, and then some.
Speaking of Dinosaur Train, I’d think Shiny Pteranodon would ADORE this book if it existed in her era. (Yes I’ve seen the show, so I know her character fairly well, so there! LOL)
Check out the OFFICIAL Trailer For
“Tiara Saurus Rex”
That’s it for Weekly Readings.
Check us next time!