Pete the Cat has been a cool cat fixture in children's literature for a couple of years now. He first appeared on the picturebook scene in 2010 with Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes, followed by Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes in 2011. Each story features Pete singing a little ditty, which you can listen to and download for free through the publisher's website. (You can also watch a short video of each Pete the Cat through the website, too.)
In 2012, Pete managed to save Christmas -- and sing about his four groovy buttons. And 2013 has already proved to be an impressive year for Pete as he launches a beginner reader series and earns a Geisel Honor Award. Pete was charming as Santa's substitute, but it was Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons that earned kudos from the Association for Library Services to Children, which cited it as one of three Honor Books for the 2013 Geisel Award. Named for the great Dr. Seuss (Theodore Geisel), the Geisel Award is presented annually to the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished American book for beginning readers published in English in the United States.
Up, Tall and High! a cleverly designed lift-the-flap book was the 2013 Geisel Award winner. This humorous story, with limited text and an interactive format will certainly appeal to beginning readers. And the other Geisel Honor books are both delightful. But while Pete The Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons is notable for its accessible vocabulary, repetition of phrase, and rhymes which serve beginner readers so well -- it also did an outstanding job of incorporating simple math into the story. As (spoiler alert!) Pete's buttons pop off his favorite shirt one by one, large numbers appear at the bottom of the page, showing that 4-1=3. And later, 3-1=2, and so on...
My newly 5-year old daughter and I had great fun with this story talking about numbers and math, as well as the definition of groovy. And giggles abounded as we discovered that in the end, Pete is left with one button after all. Can you guess what type of button he still had?
With a wry wit honed as an Emmy Award winning writer and animator for Sesame Street, author and illustrator Mo Willems broke into the world of Children's Literature in a big way in 2003 with a bus obsessed pigeon. The following year he endeared himself to children and parents alike with his spot on depiction of a distraught toddler who has lost her stuffed animal in the picturebook Knuffle Bunny, which also earned Willems his second Caldecott Honor medal from the American Library Association (ALA).
But it was Willems' Elephant and Piggie books for early readers that secured his renown as "the Dr. Seuss of this generation." In fact, his first Elephant and Piggie book: There is a Bird on Your Head! received the 2008 Geisel Award Medal, which the ALA gives to the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished American book for beginning readers published in English in the United States during the preceding year. The winners are recognized especially for their ability to creatively and imaginatively engage children in reading. Willems won the Geisel Award again in 2009 for his second Elephant and Piggie book: Are You Ready to Play Outside? He received the Geisel Honor Award in 2011 and 2012 for the Elephant and Piggie stories: We Are in a Book! and I Broke My Trunk.
If you haven't yet introduced your beginner reader to an Elephant and Piggie story -- there are now 17 to choose from -- each one as delightful as the next, all featuring large type and short sentences that manage to convey the charming friendship Elephant and Piggie share. (If Willems is this generation's Dr. Seuss, Elephant and Piggie are this generation's Frog and Toad -- good friends who appear in the beginner reader stories by Arnold Lobel.)
Whether you are a brand new or longtime fan of Elephant and Piggie, you are sure to enjoy meeting them this Friday, April 13 at 4:30 pm when we will be sharing some of their stories, a short film, and a craft celebrating their adventures together. Call us at 349-3100, or register online to reserve a seat. And stop by the reference desk between 2:30 and 4 pm Friday afternoon to try out the "Don't Let the Pigeon Run this App" activity we have on our iPads. In the meantime, you can create a dance for Elephant and Piggie at The Pigeon Presents website, or visit Mo Willems' website to find more fun and games!
I find it hard to pick a favorite Dr. Seuss story... I enjoy both the early reader chapter books and the longer stories that I remember my parents reading to me as a child: Bartholomew and the Oobleck, Yertle the Turtle, and even What Was I Scared Of? (probably because those pale green pants were a little creepy). But on a cold, cold wet day like today, I'd have to say that my favorite Dr. Seuss story is The Cat in the Hat, Seuss's first book for beginner readers.
What's your favorite Dr. Seuss story? Let us know. And share it with a friend to help celebrate Read Across America Day on March 2. This is Dr. Seuss's (Theodor Geisel's) birthday, and a day that the National Education Association honors by calling for every child to be reading in the company of a caring adult. We'll be celebrating on Saturday, March 5th with some Seusspicious events. Join us!