What Pete Ate from A to Z

( 2 )

Overview

A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
A Publishers Weekly Best Children's Book of the Year
A Recommended New Book for Missouri Students

A Miami Herald Best Book of the Year

Is there anything Pete won't eat? Poppy's charming yellow dog starts off by eating Rocky's accordion. All of it. He snacks on a bouncing ball that belongs to Uncle Bennie's dog Buster, and then ...

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Overview

A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
A Publishers Weekly Best Children's Book of the Year
A Recommended New Book for Missouri Students

A Miami Herald Best Book of the Year

Is there anything Pete won't eat? Poppy's charming yellow dog starts off by eating Rocky's accordion. All of it. He snacks on a bouncing ball that belongs to Uncle Bennie's dog Buster, and then makes a meal out of the rest of the alphabet. From glue sticks to underpants, Pete works his way through all twenty-six letters in Maira Kalman's creative take on traditional alphabet books. Packed with Kalman's trademark bright artwork and a hilarious story filled with wordplay and repetition, this alphabet book is pure fun from A to Z.

In this alphabet book, a child relates some of the unusual things eaten by Pete the dog, including an accordion, a lucky quarter, and cousin Rocky's underpants.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Kalman (Next Stop Grand Central) unleashes her extravagant whimsy in this loquacious alphabet book, "in which a certain dog devours a myriad of items which he should not." Shaggy yellow Pete, staring benignly from the book's flame-red cover, is an omnivore. According to his astonished owner, who speaks in a torrent of interjections and parenthetical asides, Pete first dined on an "accordion. All of it." Pete's torso takes on the instrument's shape as he springs in the air. He next "ate a bouncing ball that belonged to uncle Bennie's dog Buster. (Buster is no bargain. He barks all the time, but still...)." A wan fellow stands with a frowning white bulldog at his feet, gesturing at a picture of the vanished ball; empty chairs in a composition reminiscent of Matisse augment the sense of tongue-in-cheek tragedy. Pete proceeds through the letters of the alphabet, enjoying sticky stuff ("Gooey gluey dog"), "Mrs. Parsley's pink pocketbook" and a pair of "underpants. Uggh!" A loose story line emerges as Pete eats Bennie's money ("Now Bennie has no money [none] to buy Buster a new ball...") and the Parsleys make multiple appearances. Kalman paints affectionate portraits of the unstoppable Pete, the now-missing objects and their disappointed owners, and her hand-printed text acts as an element of the illustrations. Her overblown alliteration and fabulous gouaches gush with glamour. All ages. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Kalman presents her own distinctly different, slyly funny ABC. The gimmick is a listing of the strange things eaten by Pete, a dog of rare appetites. This gives Kalman a chance to play with words, mainly those beginning with the letter in question, along with wild and crazy situations involving Poppy, the narrator, her little brother Mookie, and friends and relations galore. Such word-y adventures find a pictorial match in Kalman's pseudo-primitive gouache illustrations. The endpapers, with their dozens of sketchy black line drawings of Pete and the objects inside, hint of what's to come. Forget perspective or rational juxtapositions or subtle coloring and enjoy the comic nonsense. 2001, G.P. Putnam's Sons/Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers, $15.99. Ages 6 to 10. Reviewer:Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Kirkus Reviews
Pete is a dog of alphabetic appetites, who eats everything, from cousin Rocky's accordion to a whole lot of yo-yos. What he will not eat, however, is his "Zug Zug Dog Grub (zip, zilch, zero.) Can you blame him?" Although the work dutifully features representations of each letter in cursive script as well as both upper- and lower-case Roman letters, this is clearly not your beginning alphabet book. Some of the letters are glossed with alliterative energy-for "H": "He ate half (1/2) of my homework. But did Mrs. Hoogenschmidt believe me? HA! (Hardly.) Horrible dog."-but others are illustrated so subtly that the reader loses touch with the theme. The typography has a baroque, expansive quality in keeping with Pete's excesses, but unconventional capitalization and coloring muddy the alphabetical relationships further. The paintings carry Kalman's (Next Stop Grand Central, 1998, etc.) signature zany energy, with Pete, a blond, bearded mutt, frequently portrayed with the remains of his unconventional diet hanging out of his mouth. The practice of using the alphabet as an organizing principle for a children's book is a long and honored one, but this is an example of one of its pitfalls. While it begins with promise, it has no actual narrative and the reader loses energy by the time the 26th letter rolls around. For an equally fizzy celebration of doggy greed that manages to maintain its momentum, try this year's Swollobog, by Alistair Taylor (p. 339). (Picture book. 6-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780142501597
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/15/2003
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 365,149
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.56 (w) x 10.18 (h) x 0.14 (d)

Meet the Author

Maira Kalman

In her own words: "born. bucolic childhood. culture-stuffed adolescence. played piano. stopped. danced. stopped. wrote. discarded writing. drew. reinstated writing. married Tibor Kalman and collaborated at iconoclastic yet successful design studio. wrote and painted children's books. worried. took up Ping-Pong. relaxed. wrote and painted for many magazines.  cofounded the Rubber Band Society. amused. children: two. dog: one."

Biography

Maira Kalman is an award-winning artist, illustrator, and product designer. She has illustrated numerous covers for The New Yorker magazine and has written and illustrated more than a dozen children's books. Her articles and illustrations have appeared in The New York Times, Newsweek, Interview, and many other publications. Kalman has designed products for the Museum of Modern Art under the M&Co. label, fabric for Isaac Mizrahi, accessories for Kate Spade, and sets for Mark Morris Dance Group. A teacher of graduate design at the School of Visual Arts, she lives in New York with her two children and a dog.

Author biography courtesy of the New York Public Library.

Good To Know

Kalman told us that she is the co-founder of the Rubber Band Society, is looking for a job in a café, adores ping-pong, and is very, very neat.

"My short attention span has allowed me a life of diversity in work and place, Kalman explains. "I work for The New Yorker, The New York Times, and other publications. I design products for The Museum of Modern Art. I design fabrics, and accessories for Kate Spade, fabric for Isaac Mizrahi."

"I travel as much as I can without being miserable from jet lag," she reveals. "I always remember that I don't really know what I am doing, and armed with that knowledge am very sure of myself."

Kalman reflects, "I consider my work to be about humor and love of life, and can do that when I am not terrified, which is often, but there you go."

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    1. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      November 15, 1949
    2. Place of Birth:
      Tel Aviv, Israel
    1. Education:
      New York University, 1967-70
    2. Website:

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