Somehow or other, I have missed the Pete the Cat books up until now, despite being aware of them. Pete the Cat Saves Christmas is the first title that I've read (there are at least 3 prior books in the series). Set to the tune of "Twas the Night Before Christmas", this book is pretty much exactly as advertised. Santa falls ill, and calls upon Pete to deliver the toys, and save the day.
Litwin's text is dead-on in keeping to the tune of the song. There's also an accompanying song that fans can download from HarperCollins. The text is like this:
"Will Christmas be canceled?
Will it come to that?
"Never!" cried Santa. Let's call
Pete the Cat."
Santa asked Pete
to deliver the toys
to all the good girls
and to all the good boys."
There's a musical refrain that repeats several times throughout the book "Give it your all, give your all. At Christmas we give, so gift your all." I'm pretty sure you have to hear the song to fully appreciate that part. But books with a bit of singing are certainly popular for read-aloud in my household.
Overall, the storyline is what you would expect from a story of anyone saving Christmas. What makes Pete the Cat Saves Christmas stand out is James Dean's illustrations. Pete is clearly a character, and a brand (there's an easy reader series launching in the spring). He dominates just about every page (not in terms of scale, but as the big-eyed, deadpan focal point). There's a cartoon quality to the pictures, in a good way, with bold colors and simple representations of sun, stars, etc. One can imagine the story as an animated TV show.
There are a few whimsical touches (like four larger elves holding up a "Thank you, Pete!" sign, while a smaller elf holds a "Small is cool" sign. The toy shop has one tall door labeled "SANTA" and a much smaller one labeled "ELF". Santa and the elves are all shown as cats. There's also a yellow bird who accompanies Pete on his Santa rounds - unclear to me if the bird is a recurring character.
Fans of the series will doubtless want to see Pete the Cat save Christmas. Fans of The Night Before Christmas retellings will also want to give this one a look. But really, I think that anyone who appreciates a bouncy tune, and a Christmas story in which everything turns out as it should, will enjoy Pete the Cat Saves Christmas. After reading it a couple of times, I find myself quite looking forward to my annual viewing of The Santa Clause.
Publisher: HarperCollins (@HarperChildrens)
Publication Date: September 25, 2012
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
© 2012 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).