Groovin’ with Pete the Cat

Children’s books are notoriously hard to get published. Everyone has an idea for a children’s book, and almost all of them will never see a contract. More than 21,000 children’s titles are published every year in the US, by a number of publishers, which is only a dent in the number of actual submissions. Scholastic, the one who haunts school kids with that monthly flier, publishes just 600 books a year, from board books through High School. So when a children’s book is self-published, sells 7,000 copies in its first ten months and is then signed on by major publisher Harper Collins, you know there’s something really good there. And in this case, the really good is Pete the Cat .

If you haven’t read him, Pete the Cat is a groovy large-eyed, laid-back blue/black cat who lives with his mom and dad and his tuxedo-patterned brother Bob. He has a host of friends (Grumpy Toad, Gus the Platypus, Callie, Squirrel, etc) and he loves bananas and surfing. His stories are mostly easy-readers that play to the 2-7 year old crowd, but he is infinitely more interesting than that. Pete is the kind of story you want your child to like, because you want to read more of his stories.

Pete is the creation of James Dean, whose early illustrations wound up as musically or rhythmically-oriented stories by storyteller/musician Eric Litwin. Litwin wrote four of Pete’s adventures (Pete the Cat and his Four Groovy Buttons, Rockin in my School Shoes, I Love My White Shoes, and Pete the Cat Saves Christmas). I have to admit, these early volumes are my favorites, and I cannot help but read Pete stories as if he’s a surfer dude. Groovy, man. While Litwin and Dean split in 2011, Dean and his wife Kimberly have written more than 60 Pete adventures, with more on the way. Pete’s adventures range from curing hiccups (Mom knows best!) to sleepover friends who won’t sleep, to shopping in the grocery store and scuba diving.

The actual Pete the Cat

Being an artist was not Dean’s plan. His father was an artist, and he didn’t relish  reliving the struggle. While being an electrical engineer paid bills, art crept into his life more and more, until he began to pursue art full-time. When he adopted a tiny black kitten he named Pete, Pete’s antics crept into his artwork , and a legend was born.

Dean’s success is an author’s dream – self-published, picked up by a real publisher just two years later, a runaway success (more than 7 million copies sold), merchandise deals, and now a TV series on Amazon Prime, with voices by no one less than jazz singers Jason Mraz and Diana Krall (which totally fits, because Pete gives off that groovy chill of a cool jazz cat). They say self-publishing doesn’t pay, but Dean is one of those handful of lucky authors who won that lottery.

While I find some of the titles to be uneven and lacking the lyrical qualities of the bigger titles such as Groovy Buttons, Pete remains one of my current favorite preschool titles, stories you don’t mind reading over and over again, with subtle morals (family, keeping your cool, how to be a friend, sharing, learning, etc) that won’t make you roll your eyes with saccharine. Rock on, Pete!

Cheshire Library has more than thirty Pete titles!  Here are some of them:

Pete the Cat: Rockin in My School Shoes
Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes
Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons 
Pete at the Beach
Pete’s Big Lunch
Pete the Cat: Scuba Cat
Pete the Cat: Snow Daze
A Pet for Pete
Pete the Cat and his Magic Sunglasses
Pete the Cat and the Missing Cupcakes
Pete the Cat and the Bedtime Blues
Pete the Cat Goes Camping
Pete the Cat and the Perfect Pizza Party
Pete the Cat and the New Guy

What’s Happening at Cheshire Library in February?

February is a short month, but there’s no shortage of great programs on our Event Calendar – here are just a few:

screen-shot-2016-12-29-at-4-11-23-pmJobNow

Wednesday Feb 1, 2017, 2:00  –  3:00 PM

Do you need help with your job search, your resume, or interviewing techniques?  JobNow, powered by Brainfuse, provides live interactive online help combined with online resources to guide you through the necessary tasks to get a job, and is available free to CPL cardholders. No registration required for this workshop.

adult_coloring_bookColor Yourself Calm

Thurs, Feb 2, and Mon, Feb 20, 2017, 6:00 PM

De-stress your busy life with a relaxing night of coloring. We’ll provide coloring pages and supplies, but feel free to bring your own pages and art supplies!

pre-school-fairPreschool Fair

Saturday Feb 4, 2017, 1:00  –  3:30 PM

The Cheshire Public Library would like to invite you to participate in our Preschool Fair on Saturday, February 4.  In the event of bad weather, the snow date will be March 4th.   This program will allow you to meet and ask questions with preschools in the Cheshire area. Our objective is to provide you support by offering a one-stop-shop to community preschools in order to navigate through endless information regarding school facilities, personnel, and educational philosophies. No registration required.

sheboygan-one-armer-w-rings-croppedChinese New Year with Acrobat Li Liu

Saturday Feb 11, 2017, 11:00  –  11:45 AM

Celebrate the end of Chinese New Year with acrobat Li Liu! For all ages, no registration required.

andy_and_judyFolk Duo Andy and Judy Daigle

Sunday Feb 12, 2017, 2:00 PM

Talented folk duo Andy & Judy Daigle blend popular folk covers with their growing list of original songs. he New England natives have been singing together since 2009, first performing at open mic nights where they featured cover versions of songs written by favorites John Prine, Bob Dylan, Ian and Sylvia, and Peter, Paul & Mary. This concert is free and open to the public, no registration required.

5-pretzel-log-graham-cracker-gingerbread-houseAwesome Jr. : Edible Architecture

Tuesday Feb 14, 2017, 4:00  –  4:45 PM

School-age kids in grades K-2 are invited to Awesome Jr. for fun with science, technology, engineering, art, and math. We’ll read stories, conduct experiments, play with apps, and make works of art. Today we’re going to make edible architecture out of frosting, graham crackers, pretzels, and other yummy building materials. Registration is required.

cheshiregrin3-copyCheshire C.A.T.s

Thursday Feb 16, 2017, 3:00  –  4:30 PM

Are you looking to give back to your community? Fulfill a community service requirement? Have fun? Consider becoming a member of the Cheshire Council of Advisory Teens (Cheshire CATs). Just what IS Cheshire CATS you ask? It’s a group of dedicated teens who are interested in making a difference at the Cheshire Public Library. Members will play a critical role in developing the library’s young adult collection, young adult outreach, event planning and marketing, and making the library a friendlier place for young adults. Members will meet monthly, earn community service credit and will have a direct impact on teen life at the library. No registration required, join us!

cropped-paint-nightPaint Night

Thursday Feb 16, 2017, 6:30  –  8:00 PM

Escape from the clutches of winter at our Tropical Paradise Paint Night…come dressed in your favorite summer outfit and be transported to a scene by the sea, where all of your thoughts drift into hues of summer. No experience necessary, only a desire for fun and relaxation. We will explore basic techniques to create your masterpiece.  Registration required for this adult program.

img_8919Pete the Cat Party

Saturday Feb 18, 2017, 10:00  –  11:00 AM

Join us for the coolest storytime around! We’ll read some of our favorite Pete the Cat books, do lots of singing and dancing, and make our own musical instruments. Pete the Cat himself will be dropping by for hugs, high-fives, and photos. It’s all good! For children of all ages and their families. Registration is required.

bird-feeder-winterBird Feeders In Winter

Thursday Feb 23, 2017, 6:30 PM

Angela Dimmitt who will help us identify birds that you might typically see at your bird feeders and discuss which type of feeders and feed will attract particular birds. She is a member of Litchfield Hills Audubon Society, the Western Connecticut Bird Club and the Connecticut Ornithological Association. Registration is required.

dance_clubZumba

Saturday Feb 25, 2017, 2:00  –  3:00 PM

Have you been wondering what Zumba is and if it’s right for you? Zumba is a popular dance based fitness program inspired by Latin music and dance. It’s Different, it’s Fun, it’s Effective and it’s Easy to do! Come and experience Zumba!! This Zumba demonstration for adults presented by Donna Paventy-certified Zumba instructor from the Cheshire Community YMCA. Registration is required.

1Introduction to Computers

Tuesday Feb 28, 2017, 2:00 PM

Join us to learn the basic computer skills including the different parts of a computer, how to use a mouse and keyboard, how to turn the computer on and off properly and how to navigate the desktop. This class is for individuals with little to no experience with computers. Registration is required.