Pete the Cat tries to find an inclusive activity for the “new guy” in town.
Pete and his pals are jamming when the “new guy” moves in next door: It’s Gus the platypus, who sports a backward baseball cap and a goofy smile. Professing eagerness to make a new friend (as always, it’s hard to tell from his heavy-lidded, couldn’t-care-less expression), Pete acknowledges Gus’ physiological peculiarities by assuring him that “I think being different is really very cool.” But how to include Gus? He can’t climb like Squirrel, jump like Toad or juggle like Octopus. Despite Pete’s encouraging if vague refrain—“Don’t be sad, / don’t be blue. / There is something / everyone can do!”—Gus, despondent, retreats to his house and consoles himself with his drum set. Pete exclaims, “He found something cool he can do with us!” The text is cast in a loose, poorly metered rhyme that dissolves into prose and then reforms with no apparent pattern. The message of inclusiveness is likewise incompletely explored. Why doesn’t Pete ever just ask Gus what he likes to do instead of flailing about aimlessly? For that matter, why don’t the Deans give Gus a personality? For all Pete’s stated embrace of “being different,” there is no attempt to develop or celebrate Gus’ difference in any meaningful way.
Lackluster text, muddy message, poor character development: not cool. (Picture book. 3-5)