Pete the Cat books arrived on the scene a few years ago, and those of us in the children’s literature field were hooked. We were soon singing the words to “I Love My White Shoes” and rockin’ with Pete and the children in our lives to the catchy song about Pete’s first day of school (Pete the Cat: Rockin’ in My School Shoes ).
But something has happened to Pete the Cat. It began with Pete the Cat at the Beach. Same hip cat, terrific drawings and lots of cat-attitude and whimsy. But the story fell flat. “Maybe I miss the usual author, Eric Litwin?” I mused in this blog. Still, we recommended the book as a cute beach read, even if it wasn’t up to par.
But the slew of Pete the Cat books has continued, with new co-author Kimberly Dean, James’ wife. And sad to say, the magic of the books is missing now. In the best picture books, the words and pictures work together, enticing readers with the rhythms of language. Eric Litwin’s writing and songs made Pete the Cat groovy. The latest books by the Dean team fall flat, with lots of cliches, uninspired prose, and the absence of songs and fun movement.
For more information on the story behind Pete the Cat (James Dean’s own cat), the wonderful folk art–and the unfortunate decision to break up the Dean-Litwin team, read this article about the decision. And I recommend sticking to the original books with the fine author Eric Litwin. I continue to hope that Pete the Cat gets back his groove. . .