Pete the Cat: Crayons Rock!

HarperCollins/Harper. (Pete the Cat). Sept. 2020. 40p. adapted by adapted by Kimberly Dean. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780062868558.
PreS-Gr 2–Pete uses his groovy crayons to draw a variety of objects, eventually deciding to make portraits of his friends. When Pete proudly presents his drawings to Grumpy Toad and Gus, they react with negative criticism. With his trademark optimism, Pete declares “Hey, no sweat. That’s alright!” and moves on to the next friend until he reaches Callie. When Callie also criticizes his work, Pete admits defeat and frowns. With a quick cut to art class, we see that Pete is now so discouraged and “afraid of making a mistake” that he won’t even pick up his crayons. His previously critical friends cheer him up by saying his art is cool and unique, and encourage him to draw again. When he tries again, his friends celebrate his “rockin’ masterpiece” showing them all having fun and all agree that “the best art comes from the heart.” The distinctive illustrations of Pete will be satisfying to fans, even as they are sometimes disconnected from the meaning of the text. For example, when Pete “started to frown” and “put his crayons down” the crayons are not pictured anywhere in the scene. The abrupt shift to art class may take some readers by surprise who didn’t notice the classic schoolhouse in the background. The moral of the story is undermined slightly by the fact that Pete’s initial rejected portraits were clearly also “from the heart.”
VERDICT With dynamic illustrations of the rockin’ crayons, Pete fans are likely to enjoy this well-intentioned story about making art your own way. A solid purchase where Pete is cool.

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