Meet James and Kimberly Dean—and Pete—Their Groovy Cat
Whether you’re 4 or 84, I challenge you to read any Pete the Cat book out loud without movin’ and groovin’ with that cool blue feline.
James adopted a scrawny black kitten in 1991, and a year later, that fun-lovin’ cat with itchy paws, stepped out and kept on truckin’. James never saw Pete again, but he continued to paint his furry pal—in blue, because he heard that people thought black cats were bad luck. James and Kimberly sat down at their kitchen table in 2004 to tell Pete’s story, together.
Meet The New York Times bestselling couple behind the unflappable cat that has been getting Georgia reading for years.
When Kimberly and James realized they loved to read
Kimberly fell in love with books from the moment she could read, a love she inherited from her dad. She loved the Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew mysteries because she loved pretending she was a detective.
James said his parents didn’t buy him a lot of children’s books. One of the first books he fell in love with was Treasure Island, which is still one of his favorite books.
A groovy cat is born
James didn’t start out to write children’s books, and Pete wasn’t his first four-legged drawing buddy. James watched his father, a self-taught artist, and grew up drawing Snoopy and Yogi Bear. He was an electrical engineer for a while, but then quit to be an artist. He drew landscapes and buildings, and one day drew a picture of his cat, Pete, and began to make a living doing that.
Kimberly made up stories for her kids when she tucked them in at night. When Pete came into her life she saw Pete as being great for a children’s book, because children and adults related to Pete. They thought he was cool.
Books that engage the entire family
Kimberly says children like to use their imagination, and like adults, look for ways to understand each other. They see Pete as a way to figure out those social skills. And they want the adults in their lives to talk to them.
James said he thinks in visual terms, and that he created Pete the Cat for adults. He wasn’t really painting for children at first. He says children’s books should appeal not only children, but adults as well. Grown-ups like Pete, and they want to have fun, too.
Would Pete Cry?
James said he once overheard a conversation between a teacher and a little girl. The little girl was crying. The teacher asked the little girl, “Would Pete cry?” And the little girl actually stopped crying. So, children really get the message in I Love My White Shoes, not crying about things that happen, and in Magic Sunglasses, where Pete looks for the good in every day.
How parents, teachers, and communities can help kids learn to love to read
James says it’s all about finding a book that doesn’t bore you to tears. Children often pick up a book that doesn’t engage them immediately, and they think reading isn’t fun. But if you ever find a book that you love, a subject you love, then you will be hooked.
A final word from Kimberly and James to get Georgia reading
Groove to all the Pete the Cat books
Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes
Pete the Cat goes walking down the street wearing his brand new white shoes. Along the way, his shoes change from white to red to blue to brown to WET as he steps in piles of strawberries, blueberries, and other big messes! But no matter what color his shoes are, Pete keeps movin’ and groovin’ and singing his song… because it’s all good.
Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes
Pete discovers the library, the lunchroom, the playground, and lots of other cool places at school. And no matter where he goes, Pete never stops moving and grooving and singing his song… because it’s all good.
Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons
Pete the Cat is wearing his favorite shirt—the one with the four totally groovy buttons. But when one falls off, does Pete cry? Goodness, no! He just keeps on singing his song—after all, what could be groovier than three groovy buttons?
Pete the Cat Saves Christmas
In this rockin’ spin on the traditional tale The Night Before Christmas, Pete the Cat proves that giving your all in the spirit of Christmas is the totally groovy thing to do.
Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses
Pete the Cat wakes up feeling grumpy—nothing seems to be going his way. But with the help of some magic sunglasses, Pete learns that a good mood has been inside him all along. Watch Pete take his positive outlook and transform a grumpy day into an awesome day.
Pete the Cat and the New Guy
There’s a new guy in town, and Pete can’t wait to meet him. After all, more friends mean more fun. When Pete finally meets Gus, he realizes they’re very different from each other… but that’s what makes him cool.
Pete the Cat’s Groovy Guide to Life
Everyone’s favorite cat shares a collection of his favorite inspirational and feel-good quotes in Pete the Cat’s Groovy Guide to Life. Pete’s glass-half-full outlook on life shines through as he adds his fun take on well-known classics.
Pete the Cat and the Bedtime Blues
Pete the Cat and his friends are having so much fun playing and surfing in the sun, they don’t want the day to end. Pete has an idea—how about a sleepover? Groovy! As the night gets later, it’s time for bed. This cool cat needs to catch some ZZZs, but Pete’s friends aren’t ready to go to sleep just yet.
Visit Pete the Cat’s website.
Find out how children’s author Carmen Agra Deedy is getting Georgia reading.