Top critical review
No song, half the 'book' is taken up with a poster, stickers, and cards.
Reviewed in the United States on March 22, 2016
My thoughts on this Pete the Cat Easter book: Don't buy it. Half of the book is taken up by a fold-out poster, 1 sticker sheets, and 3 tear-away sheets of Easter cards. If you really WANT a poster and 1 sticker sheet and cards, maybe it's worth the price for you. The story itself? Short and anti-climatic. Pete wakes up to a note from the Easter Bunny asking for help. Pete dresses up like a bunny, finds eggs, paints eggs, hides eggs, then the Easter Bunny shows up and says, "Good job." The End.
The book doesn't have the rhythm and flow that other Pete books have had. The author -almost- had something going with this line: "A cat with ears like a bunny - now that's funny!" This line was repeated once 2 pages later "A cat dressed up like a bunny - now that's funny!" The book could have continued with this theme, showing all the funny things Pete was doing while he played Easter Bunny, and the kids could shout "NOW THAT'S FUNNY!"
But no. This almost-brilliant idea petered out really quickly.
What's missing? Eric Litwin's songs. A good storyteller can make almost any book engaging for kids, but it's certainly helpful when authors and illustrators like James Dean and Eric Litwin combine forces unleash their creative genius on the world. Pete the Cat was an overnight success with the combination of simple and fun stories that involved children in the telling of the stories, whimsical illustrations, and best of all: Eric Litwin's songs. Singing the first few Pete books and acting out some of the motions really made children come alive, and made story time something magical that they looked forward to.
With that said, I've been disappointed with the Pete the Cat books that Eric Litwin has not worked on. No song? The singing is what made Pete so spectacular! It was a gimmick that really worked.
I understand the lack of song in Pete's early reader books, and those early readers are chosen by parents and kids because they have a recognizable character, just like any other early reader with a favorite character. However, none of the newer picture books have companion songs. It's clear that Eric Litwin is done with his Pete the Cat song-writing. The illustrations are still cute, but the stories have become lackluster without memorable prose. There's hundreds of other picture books out there with great illustrations that have more engaging stories. It feels now that James Dean (and more recently his wife Kimberly) are just capitalizing on the character of Pete, with less thought about writing a story that really grabs the attention and imaginations of kids.
My own girls are 7 and almost 9. Even though they have both advanced in their reading level beyond picture books, we still often come back to our favorite picture books when we sit down to read together. They both still choose Pete on a regular basis, but they choose one of the 4 titles that have a companion song: I Love My White Shoes, Rocking in My School Shoes, Four Groovy Buttons and Pete the Cat Saves Christmas.
Our other Pete books sit collecting dust. Time to donate them to the library.