August Book Buzz Picks, "Animated Animals" - The Missourian: Book Buzz News

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August Book Buzz Picks, "Animated Animals"

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Posted: Tuesday, August 13, 2013 2:05 pm | Updated: 2:15 pm, Tue Aug 13, 2013.

Newsbee is in a summer slump, wishes the dog days of August would bark up someone else’s tree. To lighten his lot, laughter’s the answer, cooling it with Book Buzz Picks featuring “Animated Animals.” You won’t find the crazy-fun characters in these books on a farm, in the woods or a swamp nearby. But their zany adventures are sure to leave you chuckling.

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The Big Bad Wolf has gotten a bad rap. He’s barraged for being full of hot air and stepping into disguises that look like granny’s. No doubt the wolf will be grateful to Mark Teague, author/illustrator of “The Three Little Pigs and the Somewhat Big Bad Wolf.” Finally there’s a valid reason for the wolf’s nasty temperament.

In this rendition of the old tale, the farmer and his wife are pulling up stakes to retire in Florida. The three little pigs strike out on their own, construction projects on their minds — straw, sticks and brick, as you’ll recall.

The first pig suffers the last straw when the wolf comes calling, as does the second pig who builds his house of twigs. But the third time’s a charm in Swineville. Once that brick home is finished, the wolf swings by and “huff-huff-puffed and puff-huff-huffed…” while inside the three pigs pork-out on Bob’s Potato Chips and sody-pop.

Rather than spoil the end of the tale, suffice it to say, the wolf isn’t too successful, but the pigs take pity on him, diagnosing the ache causing his angst. Five oinks for a story that portrays the wolf in a better light.

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Hold on to your antlers, there’s a moose on the loose, and with author/illustrator Oliver Jeffers leading the chase, you can expect offbeat fun in “This Moose Belongs to Me.”

Wilfred has always wanted a moose, so he’s thrilled beyond compare when a proud specimen appears in his neck of the woods. Wilfred names him Marcel, fitting for a magnificent animal. Looks aren’t everything, though. Marcel doesn’t obey Wilfred’s rules for being a good pet.

The moose is great at knocking apples down from trees, but he has a mind of his own when it comes to listening. Marcel also has a bad case of wanderlust, and he’s fickle. When an old lady claims the moose as her own, Marcel turns his tail on Wilfred, which makes the boy hopping mad.

Wilfred takes off in a huff — not a good idea for a kid who’s geographically challenged and clumsy. Within minutes he’s totally strung out. Never fear, it’s marvelous Marcel to the rescue, an unassuming hero if ever there was one.

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Kathi Appelt’s newest, “The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp,” is a folklorish novel about a swamp where two brother raccoons run the show. Bingo and J’miah are the official scouts, taking their orders from the legendary Sugar Man, “taller than his cousin Sasquatch,” with “hands as wide and big as palmetto ferns.”

Bingo and J’miah live in the swamp in a dilapidated 1949 DeSoto where they pay strict attention to edicts delivered over the car radio. Whenever a storm hits the swamp, lightning strikes set the radio buzzing with light and sound.

The raccoons live by strict orders to wake the sleeping Sugar Man if an emergency comes to the swamp. That’s no easy task because the giant is guarded by Gertrude, his rattlesnake pal. But the raccoons have no choice but to shake the giant awake when the swamp comes under attack by a pack of feral hogs, and a gator wrestler set on turning the natural area into a theme park.

It’s Bingo and J’miah to the rescue in this highly entertaining read, peppered with Appelt’s colloquial humor, a voice that’s sure to win you over, Sister.

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