Pete the Cat, written by Eric Litwin and illustrated by the artist James Dean brings together two artists from different genres to create a really cool kid's book! Eric Litwin, aka Mr Eric, is a multi-intrument musician and singer and creator of The Learning Groove, a child and parent music class. James Dean and his creation, Pete, reminds me a bit of a cross between Stephen Huneck's Sally the Lab and George Rodrigue's Blue Dog. Pete is one cool cat who really gets around. I couldn't resist including some of Dean's artwork featuring Pete, especially his visits with The Masters, so be sure to check them out at the bottom of this review.
A great article by Helen Oliviera reveals how Litwin and Dean came together on a street corner in Atlanta, where both are based. Pete the Cat was already a local celebrity and Litwin deicded to write a song and story about him, which he emailed to Dean after they bumped into each other. Before Litwin came along, Pete the Cat had never worn shoes and I definitely think the high tops are a great addition! With Litwin's background in children's music and Dean's bright colors and childlike painting style, there is no way this book could not be a success - and it is! The two self-published the book in their home town and it was picked up by HarperCollins.
Pete's story is a simple one that ends with a great message. I'll give you a brief synopsis, but I strongly suggest you watch the video of Mr Eric singing the song to (and with) a room full of kids and parents while Mr Dean turns the pages of the book. Also, when you watch the video you will know how to sing the song!
Pete the Cat has some new white shoes and sings this song, "I love my white shoes, I love my white shoes." As he is walking along, he steps in something - a big pile of strawberries! - that turns his shoes.... RED. The pacing of the book is great because it gives keeps kids on the edge of their seats, excited to guess what color Pete's shoes turn and happy to sing his song. Dirty shoes don't get Pete down, though. He goes on to sing, "I love my red shoes, I love my red shoes." This goes on for a few more colors until Pete steps in water and his shoes turn white again, but now they are WET. Does this get Pete down? Goodness no! Pete has a new song! "I love my wet shoes, I love my wet shoes." And, as the book says, the moral of this story is, "No matter what you step in, keep walking along and singing your song 'cause it's all good!"
I wish I had more pictures from the book to share more of James Dean's amazing artwork with you. But, there is plenty in the video clip and I had added some of Dean's paintings of Pete with The Masters. For those of you who really love Pete the Cat, you can buy prints from Dean's site AND you can also enter the monthly Win a Pete Print contest Dean hosts! Also, there is a super cute doll from MerryMakers, Inc, the BEST company when it comes to creating dolls and toys from the best kid's books out there - new and classics.