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Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons

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Cover of Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons picture book
HarperCollins

Who Is Pete the Cat?

Pete the Cat is a unique character, unlike any other cat I've come across in children's literature. The narrator who introduces Pete and talks about him emphasizes how well Pete responds to life situations. Pete the Cat is a laid-back wacky looking blue cat, whose motto seems to be, "It's all good." Whether it's a new situation, a loss of something or a problem, in every Pete the Cat book, Pete doesn't get upset. Pete sings a cheerful song through every situation and everything always turns out fine, which can be reassuring to young children.

Humor, Numbers and a Message

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons is appealing for a number of reasons. It's a clever concept book that focuses on the numbers 1 to 4, subtraction and counting down. The illustrations prominently feature the numbers "1," "2," "3" and "4" and the words "one," "two," "three" and "four." The illustrations also introduce children, probably for the first time, to what a subtraction problem looks like (example: 4-1=3). With lots of different colors on every page, children will have fun identifying different colors and objects ("Show me a red button." "Show me something else that's red.") for the reader sharing the book with them.

However, while all of that is well and good, that's only one of the reasons I like the book so much. In the first place, it's not just Pete the Cat's buttons that are groovy. Pete is definitely a groovy cat. I like Pete the Cat and I like the positive message his actions send.

The Story

Pete the Cat's favorite shirt has "four big, colorful, round, groovy buttons." Pete loves the buttons and likes to sing about them: "My button, my buttons, / My four groovy buttons." When one of the buttons pops off, you'd think Pete would be upset, but not this cat. "Did Pete cry? / Goodness no! / Buttons come and buttons go." Pete just sings his song again, this time about his three buttons. He has the same reaction when another button pops off and he's down to 2 buttons, and, then, one button and, then, zero buttons.

Even when the last button pops off, Pete the Cat doesn't get upset. Instead, he realizes he still has his belly button and happily begins to sing about that. The constant repetition as each button pops off and Pete the Cat reacts to the loss means that your child will probably be chiming in before you get down to zero and will happily help you tell the story again and again

The Author and Illustrator

James Dean created the Pete character and illustrated Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons. Dean, a former electrical engineer, created the Pete the Cat character based on a cat he saw at an animal shelter. Eric Litwin wrote the story. Litwin is an award-winning musician and storyteller, known for such CDs as The Big Silly with Mr. Eric and Smile at Your Neighbor.

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons is the third Pete the Cat books by Dean and Litwin. The others are Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes (2010) and Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes (2011). The next picture book, Pete the Cat Saves Christmas, will be published in the fall of 2012. In addition, in early 2013, HarperCollins will publish two new Pete the Cat books for its My First I Can Read Books series. (Source: HarperCollins)

Pete the Cat Extras from the Publisher

On the HarperCollins Pete the Cat page, you can download a companion song and watch a video for each of the picture books. You can also download Pete the Cat activities: Pin the Shoe on Pete, Do My Shoes Match?, Rocking Through the Maze and Coloring My School Shoes.

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons: My Recommendation

I love Pete the Cat. He is such a cheerful, laid-back character and the song for each book is a nice touch. Each of the Pete the Cat books has a simple message. In this picture book, kids are encouraged to relax and not get too dependent on stuff for happiness because "stuff will come and stuff will go." I not only recommend the book for ages 3 to 6, I also have included it on my list of Children's Books That Make Great Graduation Gifts. HarperCollins published Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons in 2012. The ISBN is 9780062110589.

More Recommended Picture Books

For alphabet and rhyming fun, I recommend Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. Otto the Book Bear is a good book for kids who love the magic of books and The Gruffalo is a book children enjoy hearing again and again. Two classic picture books you won't want to miss are Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak and The Very Lonely Caterpillar by Eric Carle.

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