These four seriously groooovvvyy picture books are about an extremely cool Jazz Cat named Pete. And his shoes.
As with many kids books, these are simple to describe though thankfully not saccharine:
a) in I Love My White Shoes, Pete goes for a stroll during which he steps in strawberries, blueberries, mud and a bucket of water, which turn his shoes–you guess the colors and sing along!
b) in Rocking in my School Shoes, it’s Pete’s first day of school, during which he goes to class, reads in the library, eats in the lunchroom and plays out in the playground, then goes to tell his mother all about it when she meets him at the bus stop.
c) Pete the Cat and his Four Groovy Buttons isn’t about the buttons exactly, but rather losing them, one by one, and counting down to zero…or has he lost ALL his buttons? Nope. There’s one left; guess what it is? All the buttons are are groovy though, to be sure.
d) in Pete the Cat Saves Christmas….well, you can guess. Yes, Pete saves Christmas to the general meter of “Twas the Night Before Christmas”, except with a jive rhythm.
The illustrations are reminiscent of Eric Carle in their angularity, but frankly Brown Bear and the Very Hungry Caterpillar were never this cool. Ask me again in ten years how popular these still are amongst the story-reading or -listening set, but for now, they’re justifiably popular. They’re bouncy, they’re colorful, they permit audience participation and a chance to work off antsiness by dancing along. There’s even a multimedia campaign over at HarperCollins: Pete The Cat For now, and it is to be hoped for some time to come, they’re great activity books to teach things like colors, basic math skills, what school’s like, and so on.
I would disagree somewhat with Kirkus; it’s actually pretty easy to figure out what the tunes are—I got close without even realizing that the author himself had included audio versions of the songs in the web site promoting these books.