Eric Litwin might be best known as the original author behind the popular "Pete the Cat" series, featuring the groovy cat who is laid back no matter what comes his way.
Litwin is back with a new character and the first in what will be a series all about Groovy Joe, described as a fun-loving, guitar-strumming, doggy-ice-cream eating pup.
Litwin will be at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh to read from his new book, "Groovy Joe Ice Cream and Dinosaurs" this week. It's 4 p.m., Thursday, at the book store in Raleigh's North Hills. Quail Ridge promises that this will be a high-energy program where everybody will sing and dance. Best for ages 3 and up.
I had a chance to ask Litwin some questions by email to learn more about the new character and what else is in the works. Here's our Q&A:
Go Ask Mom: You're best known for your Pete the Cat series. Now comes Groovy Joe, who happens to be a dog! What inspired this latest character?
Eric Litwin: Groovy Joe is inspired by optimism and a multi-sensory approach to early literary. I love books that weave music and story together.
GAM: In Groovy Joe you use music, rhyme, and sound repetition to engage kids. When I read Groovy Joe to my six-year-old, she immediately figured out the pattern and started guessing what the next page would say. Why do kids respond so well to these kinds of devices?
EL: Kids respond so well to music, rhyme and sound repetition because it is a more natural approach to early literacy and language acquisition. This is why I integrate these techniques into all my books.
GAM: Tom Lichetenheld (illustrator of Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site) created the illustrations for Groovy Joe. How much did you work together for this book?
EL: Tom Lichtenheld is an incredible artist. He really knows how to get to the essence of a character and story. And he has a wonderful sense of humor. Tom often asks me for ideas and suggestions. And, I enjoy discussing these with him. However, when the books are being drawn, I am not there and it is all Tom's imagination.
GAM: Will there be more adventures for Groovy Joe?
EL: Oh YES! The next book comes out next fall 2017 and is called "Groovy Joe Disco Party Bow WOW!"
GAM: You'll be at Quail Ridge Books on Thursday. What can people expect during your appearances?
EL: We are going to sing and dance and get fully immersed in music and early literacy. It is a wonderful experience. I am looking forward to it.
GAM: Did you ever think your Pete the Cat series would be so successful when you sat down to write the first one?
EL: I am the author of the original four Pete the Cat picture books (White Shoes, School Shoes, Four Groovy Buttons and PTC Saves Christmas). Then I moved on to new characters, The Nuts and Groovy Joe. I could have never imagined how loved the original four Pete the Cat books would become. It has been a wonderful adventure. And, now Groovy Joe is going to keep the magic going!
GAM: What advice do you have for aspiring picture book authors? It's a hard market to crack!
EL: Don't give up. Believe in yourself. "Pete the Cat, I Love My White Shoes" and "Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons" were both initially rejected. I just never gave up. It's all good.
See Litwin at 4 p.m., Thursday, at Quail Ridge Books, 4209-100 Lassiter Mill Rd., Raleigh.