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This Is One of Our Favorites
on May 15, 2016
We like the Pete the Cat books, which are part of Harper Collins' "My First Level, I Can Read!" series. Pete may not be as well known as Little Critter, Biscuit, Fancy Nancy, or the Berenstain Bears, but he has a kid-size groovy vibe that bests those slightly aging franchise bedrocks.
Unlike some of the "I Can Read" books, the Pete books usually have a complete story, with a clear beginning, a couple of developments in the middle, and then a satisfying ending. I like that even in very early readers. What happens makes sense and the endings are satisfying. Each fully illustrated page has two sentences, running from four to seven words each. That's a nice length and a good and fair challenge for a little starting reader. The drawings fully support the text, and while they look a bit amateurish at first the characters are actually expressive and presented effectively.
Many of the Pete books have a mild message, (be yourself, do your best). Here, Pete is choosing an outfit to wear to his first day at school. He takes advice from everyone and ends up way, way overdressed and rather silly looking. Finally, Pete takes off everything and puts on what he wants. Be yourself indeed. The message didn't strike me as terribly heavy-handed, but that's mostly because it was hidden under so many layers of silliness. The Pete books vary in their messageness, and this one does fall a bit to the obvious side of the balance. That said, it's fun and a bit ambitious, which is a nice touch for such an early reader.
So, all in all, this is one of the few early readers books that strikes me as "set worthy" and we've been happy to collect them all over time. The paperback versions are particularly good value.