My youngest son, JSL, is in first grade and has fallen in love with a cat that does not make me sneeze. Last year, while searching for a book at the Book Fair, he asked to purchase a Pete the Cat book by Eric Litwin. He recognized it from his kindergarten classroom. From that day on, we all became big fans of Pete. We would sing along with the songs and smile while reading thanks to the illustrations by James Dean. Over the summer, we added some new I Can Read! books about Pete that are written and illustrated by James Dean. JSL adores those, but I was looking forward to some new holiday books that were coming out.
Pete the Cat – The First Thanksgiving is by Kimberly and James Dean. We begin the book while Pete is getting ready to perform in his class’s Thanksgiving play. He is nervous about his role as a Pilgrim and his friend Callie tells him to do his best. The rest of the book shares scenes from the play that Pete and his classmates are in. Pete the Cat and his Pilgrim friends head to the New World in 1620. We see their voyage, learn about the landing at Plymouth Rock, and watch them plant crops with the help of Squanto.
The familiar illustrations by James Dean take us into the world of Pete the Cat. We see Pete’s familiar face throughout the book. While the story is cute and does tell the tale of the first Thanksgiving and Pete’s experience in a play, there is something missing. When I asked JSL what he thought of the book (he read it with Nana), he said it was alright. He love, love, loves the original Pete the Cat books, so I was a little shocked. As I read the book, I started to understand why my little guy lost some of his enthusiasm. Sure Pete was there, but his fun loving, groovy style was missing. While the Dean story is nice, it was not the literary style that we had grown to love thanks to Eric Litwin. If you are a Pete the Cat fan, I am sure you will like seeing your friend in this book and will enjoy it in your book collection, but know that groovy, hip, and happening Pete is taking on a new more mature role.
Have you read Pete the Cat books? Which is your favorite and why? I would love to know what you think and if you have other Thanksgiving stories that you read during the holidays.