Bestselling author Eric Litwin to visit Westfield Washington Public Library Jan. 21
Eric Litwin, the No. 1 New York Times bestselling author of “Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes” and three follow-up adventures, will be visiting (and performing) at 6 p.m. Jan. 21 at the Westfield Washington Public Library, 333 W. Hoover St.
“In each show I tend to do one of the ‘Pete the Cat’ books I wrote, I will do a ‘The Nuts’ family book which is my new series and then I’ll do a ‘Groovy Joe’ story. That’s my new character coming out that is a dog,” he said. “The third story is experimental. It’s a work in progress and I watch the audience responding to the story and that is really how I edit, shape and develop these stories.”
This is Litwin’s first trip to Westfield. In addition to visiting WWPL, Litwin will appear at Shamrock Springs, Oak Trace, Maple Glen and Carey Ridge elementary schools this week.
“I’m going to do between one and four performances a day,” he said. “I travel approximately 10 days out of every month. It ends up coming to approximately 200-400 every year. This is a big part of how I create my material.”
Before being a writer, Litwin was a teacher working with special needs students.
“I knew I could not solve every problem, but what I figured out was if I could help them learn to read better and help them fall in love with books and become better readers that everything else they tried to do would go better,” he said. “The trick is how do you get students to fall in love with books when they have experienced a lot of frustration with books?”
Litwin said he wanted to utilize his skills acquired as a performer of music and folk tales and start making the stories interactive. He said the technical word for his style is prediction.
“The child is not just relying on phonics and sight words, he or she is using all sorts of aspects of their intelligence to figure the book out,” he said. “Once they have that experience of success their likelihood of becoming lifetime readers and falling in love with reading books has just increased substantially. That is my entire focus: I create books that help beginning readers and emerging readers because it engages them and because these techniques empower them.”
Litwin wrote the first four Pete the Cat picture books – “I Love My White Shoes,” “Rocking in My School Shoes,” “Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons” and “Pete the Cat Saves Christmas.”
“One week I had the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 bestselling picture book at the same time,” he said. “They are translated into eight different languages so I am really proud of those four books.”
Litwin said he knew he had a great story, collaborated with the artist James Dean and his “Little Girl and her White Shoes” became “Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes.”
“I felt the synergy between my story and his character was so strong that I did think we had a good shot at a hit,” he said. “The greatest surprise and my happiest surprise for me is how many teachers and classrooms have incorporated my books into their curriculum.”
Litwin has moved on to a new series called The Nut family.
“They are actually nuts,” he said. “The first book (“Bedtime at the Nut House”) I’m very proud of because it blends early literacy and disco music. Parents can now disco dance their kids to bed.”
Litwin said the book is a musical bedtime story and his second book, “Sing and Dance in Your Polka Dot Pants,” will be released in the fall.
“It is so much fun,” he said. “It’s going to end with a line dance called the polka dot pants dance.”
When Litwin is not writing he enjoys a lot of health related events – hiking and yoga – and reads quite a bit.
“You will pretty much always find me with a book,” he said. “At the moment I’m in the middle of ‘Death of a King’ by Travis Smiley. Just before that I finished ‘Dealbreaker’ by Harlan Coben and ‘Jerry Lee Lewis’ by Rick Bragg. I consume books and am always on the lookout for great books.”
Eric Litwin ● 6 p.m. Jan. 21 ● Westfield Washington Public Library, 333 W. Hoover St. ● Sponsored in part by the Friends of the Westfield Library and the Westfield Woman’s Club ● Free ● www.ericlitwin.com.