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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Pete the Cat: A Very Groovy Christmas is a delightful holiday story with standout themes about selflessness, charity, and generosity that are just right for the holiday season. It's a twist on the story of Santa Claus, telling of the Christmas Cat who comes to give gifts and spread joy. Pete and his friends learn by experience that intangible gifts like sharing time with family, helping others, and celebrating community are better than any present that can be wrapped. Grumpy Toad begins the story fixated on what gifts he will get, but, by the end, even he finds happiness in more meaningful joys. This special offers great music that appeals to different ages and is performed by the likes of Jason Mraz and Elvis Costello, among the rest of the talented voice cast.
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What's the story?
PETE THE CAT: A VERY GROOVY CHRISTMAS opens with Pete (voiced by Jacob Tremblay) and his friends performing the story of the legendary Christmas Cat who comes during the season to spread joy and distribute gifts. Inspired by the tale, they set out to find him, using clues from the song to tempt him with his favorite treat (orange and pickle pudding!) and anticipate where he will show up as the holiday draws near. Instead they meet a somewhat mysterious new friend named Leon (Jason Mraz) and find friends and family who need their help preparing for the community's holiday celebration.
Is it any good?
This holiday special is groovy indeed, both in its heartwarming story and in the uniquely appealing music -- and musicians -- the whole family can enjoy. The cast list reads like a Grammy lineup with Jason Mraz, Dave Matthews, and Elvis Costello among the impressive selection of voice artists. A Very Groovy Christmas is an obvious twist on the Santa Claus legend (tailored to the animal characters, of course) that emphasizes the feel-good emotions of kindness, generosity, and selflessness without any religious overtones.
Pete is a somewhat atypical focal point in a kids' show because of his tendency toward silence most of the time, but it's a trait that works well with this story's themes. As Grumpy Toad (Atticus Shaffer) especially prattles on about finding the Christmas Cat and getting some "super special gifts" from him, Pete quietly sets a different example of charity and giving as he jumps right in and helps out where he can without any thought to what it might do for him. In the end they all learn a valuable lesson about the true gifts of the holiday, but it's Pete who leads by doing rather than by saying.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what the Christmas season means to them. What traditions are important in your family this time of year? How do they reflect your family's cultural or religious heritage? What are your favorite intangible gifts of the season? How do you and your family help spread joy to others at Christmas?
What stories are particularly meaningful to you this time of year? How does the Christmas Cat legend compare to the story of Santa Claus? What are some of your favorite TV specials or movies to watch at Christmas? How do traditions like these make you feel during the holiday season?
Which character(s) in Pete the Cat: A Very Groovy Christmas stand out in this story for their kindness and compassion? Does it matter that Grumpy Toad is somewhat hesitant to forgo his own needs to help others, or is the mere act of charity what really counts? What have you learned about happiness by sharing it with other people?
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