Pete the Cat has taken over the world, infiltrating preschool and early elementary classrooms and bookstores alike. My first introduction was to Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons. It had a very repetitive story line: Pete kept losing buttons off of his jacket, but he never cried and still continued his song. Even though it was repetitive, the attentive preschoolers begged me to reread it at least five times. So I asked myself: what is the huge appeal for children?
The newest book in the series, which was released just earlier this month, is called Pete the Cat and the Bedtime Blues. Kimberly and James Dean continue the rhythm and artistic creativity of the rest of the Pete the Cat books. Pete and his friends have been at the beach all day, but now they don’t want the fun to end so they have a sleepover. Unfortunately, Pete’s friends are not as ready to go to sleep as Pete is, so they make noise that keeps them up longer. Every time Pete is awakened, his friends say “I don’t want to go to bed, I want to (do something else) instead.” Finally, Pete solves his friends’ problem by pulling out his favorite bedtime story (a fictional Pete the Cat book, according to the illustration), which calms them down and gets them to bed.
I think the appeal of this book and other Pete the Cat books for children is the repetition, allowing them to chant along even if they are unable to read the words yet. It makes them feel more comfortable and familiar with the material. It’s also easy to catch on since most of the book is in verse or close rhyme. Children hear the similarities in endings of words and are able to predict the next word with little difficulty.
The illustrations are also very accessible: each and every one of them include bright and vibrant colors that attract children’s attention. The characters are very cartoon-like, but they are doing activities that any child would do like coloring, playing with toys, or riding a bike. These activities make it more relatable for children and allows them to put themselves into the book: would they be like Pete, who wants to get to bed pretty quickly, or would they be like his friends, who create distractions before finally falling asleep?
I think that the entire Pete the Cat series is relatable and entertaining for young children so they are hooked from the very beginning, making it terrifically trendy. To hear some of the songs from the books, watch videos, download free activities, and learn more about Pete the Cat, check out: http://www.harpercollins.com/childrens/feature/petethecat.
By: Mary Smith