Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons

Book review by
Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media
Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons Book Poster Image
Cute cat, catchy ditty, simple math will hook tiny readers.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Kids learn shapes (round buttons), colors, numbers, counting, and simple subtraction.

Positive Messages

"... stuff will come and stuff will go. But do we cry? Goodness, No! We keep on singing."

Positive Role Models & Representations

Nothing gets Pete down. When he has four buttons and one pops off, he just changes his cheery song to be about three buttons. Even when he loses all of his buttons, he doesn't cry; he thinks, "It's all good!" and sings about his belly button, the one button he still has. He's not materialistic, because he knows that "Buttons come and buttons go."

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons is the third picture book in the mega-selling series that began with Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes. Kids eat up these simple, repetitive stories about the deadpan kitty who sings so lovingly about his things.

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What's the story?

Pete the Cat puts on his favorite shirt, which has four colorful buttons. He loves the buttons so much that he sings a simple song about them: \"My buttons, my buttons, / my four groovy buttons. / My buttons, my buttons, / My four groovy buttons.\" Then one pops off. \"How many are left?\" asks the text, and there's a bright, full-page image of the math problem \"4 - 1 = 3.\" Pete answers, \"3,\" and then sings his ditty about his three groovy buttons, and so on, down to zero, when he has no buttons left ... except his belly button.

Is it any good?

The repetitive text is toddler-friendly but may be a little tedious for grown-ups. And the simple math is a good lesson, but the actual subtraction problems may be lost on tiny readers. Creator James Dean's childlike art in bright primary colors, and the funny blue cat, whose blank expression is virtually unchanged on every page, will engage little kids. You can make up your own tune for Pete's song or go to the publisher's website to hear author Eric Litwin's addictive hip-hop-flavored version with kid chorus for free.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what makes Pete the Cat cool. Is it his enthusiastic, nothing-gets-him-down attitude? His unchanging expression? His bright blue fur?

  • Have you read other Pete the Cat books? How does this one compare?

  • Do you like learning about numbers in a story?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love picture books and animals

Themes & Topics

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