Review: ‘Pete With No Pants’

Review: ‘Pete With No Pants’

I immediately wanted to read this book because of the title. Seemingly every kid–and even some adults–go through a phase where they just don’t want to wear pants.

In his mother’s words, Pete the elephant is “as naked as a pigeon” for most of the story. He tries to find a connection with things that are “like” him: boulders, trees, clouds, all of which are gray, and none of which are wearing pants. As Pete endures asides from smudgy little squirrels, readers are drawn up and down and every which way across the page to see what happens next. But in the end, rather haphazardly, Pete learns a real life lesson. And although readers never really knows why Pete’s not wearing pants, it turns out not to be his most important attribute. This is a book you will no doubt want to read aloud again and again.

I was also intrigued by the author’s name: Rowboat Watkins. I’m sure you remember him–or at least his name–from Rude Cakes, his 2015 picture book about, well, a rude cake. (Reviewed here.) On his website, Watkins has this to say about his unique first name:

“I’d be a lousy speedboat. And I’m way too shy to be a showboat. And way too weak to be a tugboat. And too gloomy to be a loveboat. And (sadly) not swashbuckling enough to be a dreamboat. And no one wants to be called dinghy. So that left rowboat. Nothing fancy, but great to have around when the ship starts sinking. And they smell good in the rain.”

After reading this book, I’d very much like to read more of Pete’s adventures, even if he’s not wearing pants. And I think I’d also like to be friends with Rowboat, because, let’s face it, those are the best kinds of boats.

Pete With No Pants by Rowboat Watkins (Chronicle Books | 9781452144016 | May 2, 2017)

Editor’s note: When I asked Rowboat Watkins if he had an author image he was willing to share, he replied with this:

Um…I’m not really big on photos of me. Never have been. It is undoubtedly all my parents’ fault. So blame them.
But in lieu of a photo of the me that is boringly me, here’s a paper me that is pretty much the same thing. Only cheerier.
p.s. In the attached photo, I’m the one on the right wearing pants. Sometimes people think I’m on the left. But that, of course, is a boulder. Or was it a cloud? Anyway, whatever it is, it’s not me. I’m on the right. Just in case you weren’t sure.

Abigail Beckman

Abigail Beckman is a national Murrow, Gracie and PRNDI award-winning journalist who really would rather spend her time writing books for children.