Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Pete the Cat: Play Ball! by James Dean

Pete the Cat: Play Ball! by James Dean

Rating: 3.5 stars

It's no secret that we in this house love, love, LOVE Pete the Cat.  These books put a smile on my face like no other book, and his songs get my toes tapping and put all of us in a good mood (and that's a good thing, because we all know when Mommy is in a good mood, it's easier for everyone else to be in a good mood).

And we waited not-so-patiently for Play Ball! and James Dean's other Pete the Cat I Can Read books to arrive on the hold shelf for us in the library.

Alas, we are all a little disappointed.

It turns out that Pete actually stinks at baseball.  He can't hit, he can't catch and it seems he has trouble even drinking Gatorade in the dugout (I'm actually making that part up).  He does try his best--that point is pointed out in a redundant way that many I Can Read Books manage--and his sly face is indifferent as he fails at each and every aspect of the game.  His team manages to win the game despite Pete's lack of talent for the game, so I guess there is a happy ending.

It's got to be hard to have a good follow-up to three wildly successful books (I thought his fourth book, Pete the Cat Saves Christmas, was not as great as the first three).  Yet I found myself thinking about Play Ball! after we read it--what does it mean when I don't like a book when the hero doesn't add anything to the victory?  Can there be a story when the hero is just a ho-hum guy leading a ho-hum existence?  Does the moral of the story have to be some triumphant victory every single time?

Clearly the answer is this: It's a good thing for books like this to lie around our children's shelves, so that they know that the hero (in their world, that's them, of course) doesn't always have to be uber-fantastic.  I didn't love the book, but I do appreciate the message--Pete still rocks even though he's not the best at baseball.  As my best friend Stacey says, we're all working on something, and it seems that Pete is still working on baseball.

Hopefully he won't give up his day job of singing catchy tunes while looking impossibly cool and hip!

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