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.

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