Eric Litwin Author study by: Alyssa meyer

Background

Eric Litwin was born in 1966 in New York City and has lived in Atlanta since 1993. As a child, Litwin struggled with reading and decided in college to be a teacher. He holds two master's degrees in education from George Washington University and a degree in public administration from the Nelson Rockefeller School of Public Affairs and Policy, part of the University at Albany, NY. Litwin had been teaching special needs children by day and performing his folk/blues songs at open-mic nights across the city by night. Here, he found his love for music and young children. Litwin was accepted into the Young Audiences program where he spent his time in different elementary schools across Atlanta for ten years. A former classroom teacher turned musician and author, he describes himself this way, "Mr. Eric is a guitar-strumming, book-writing, harmonica-blowing, banjo-picking, song-singing, five-time national award-winning, folksy, fun type guy."

The Birth of Pete the Cat

Litwin enjoyed performing with young children and helped him develop "musical interactive literacy" or dance, music, and reading. He loved the idea of literacy and music together. Litwin came up with the idea of a young girl loving her white shoes. Artist, James Dean had been creating images of his own cat for years. At a stop light, they ran into each other. Eric Litwin told James Dean that he had a fun song for him. Through emails they combined ideas. Pete the Cat was now going to have a voice.

The two consulted with other authors taking two years to develop their first book. Litwin and Dean self published I Love My White Shoes in 2008. A book with less than 300 words told the story of Pete as he walks down the street singing “I love my white shoes,” until he mucks up his sneakers by stepping in strawberries, blueberries, and mud. A narrator repeatedly asks, “Did Pete cry?” to which comes the response, “Goodness, no!” After thirty pages, the story ends with a wholesome recap: “No matter what you step in, keep walking along and singing your song . . . because it’s all good.”

James Dean and Eric Litwin

Pete the Cat

In May 2009, Litwin and Dean signed a two book contract with HarperCollins. They reproduced White Shoes and added Rocking in My School Shoes to go with it. With great success the two produced Four Groovy Buttons and Pete The Cat Saves Christmas. They went on national tours. During this time, Dean would paint a basic Pete to leave behind for schools and businesses as Litwin strummed his guitar and sang. The fanbase swelled. At an Austin bookstore, a crowd clogged the aisles. Litwin recalls one performance when his microphone malfunctioned during a reading of White Shoes. In unison, 200 children rose from their seats and finished the story from memory.

Sadly, by the end of 2012, the partnership had ended. A lawsuit decided that Dean could produce more Pete the Cat books and Litwin could use the art in his presentations.

More Books

Music

Eric Litwin is the cofounder of The Learning Groove, a music education company that uses music and movement to help early learners. His most popular songs are of course the ones in his books, and songs about colors. Some of the albums include Rockin' Red and Bouncy Blue!

Awards

Performances

Eric LItwin travels and gives hundreds of performances a year. His performances are very lively and interactive. Get ready to sing, dance, laugh and fall in love with books if there is a performance near you! If you want to check where Eric is performing or sign up for him to come to your school, check it out at... http://www.ericlitwin.com/performanceses !

Sources

-http://www.ericlitwin.com/

-http://www.georgiacenterforthebook.org/Georgia-Literary-Map/Georgia-Author-Detail.php?record_id=194

-http://www.atlantamagazine.com/great-reads/for-petes-sake/

Credits:

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