Knock, knock.

How could anyone not stop, pick up, and thumb through a book called Pete With No Pants.

I mean curiosity alone would make me wonder 1) WHY is it a book, 2) is this appropriate, and 3) why doesn’t he have any pants, is he too poor to afford them? Were they stolen? Or, did he just lose them somewhere along the way? And who is this Pete anyway? (Which I realize is actually four questions in number 3), but what are you gonna do? Like Pete, I’m nosy.)

The latest book from Rowboat Watkins features Pete, a young elephant who enjoys his…freedom. And he is also asking the age old questions, “Who am I?” which is apparently easier without the constraints of trousers, and “Who’s there?” in response to the age old prompt of “knock, knock.”

In his quest, his roundness and grayness and lack of pants suggests he might be a boulder. His joy at discovering this is quickly quelled as he discovers the stoney silence of his new found brethren. When he prompts them with a “knock, knock,” there is no reply. No, instead there is rock solid disinterest. “Boulders are the worst,” Pete declares.

He soon figures, maybe he is not a boulder, but something else that is gray and doesn’t wear pants. Maybe he is something else that responds to his “knock, knock.” He pursues different potential possibilities with similar disappointing results. How hard can it be for an overly enthusiastic, pant-less elephant child to find out who or what he is? How hard could it be to find a willing participant in his word game of identity? Maybe not as difficult as it seems at first.

This is such an absurd story (in the best possible way.) It is a roller coaster of emotion—carefree, disappointed, happy, sad, joyful, repeat. The peripheral characters and their commentary are hilarious. Owls that confuse Pete with a cloud—a walking cloud! Squirrels that think he is a hungry, tree-climbing, talking boulder.

Watkins illustrations are—and this is not the right word but I can’t think of the right word at the moment—whimsical. I became a big fan of his work in Rude Cakes a couple of years ago. They are loose and free (kind of like Pete) and full of life, whether exuberant or woeful. Every being in this book (including the boulders) is endearing and squeezable and laughable.

Even the worms on the back cover who have trouble figuring out who is what when they spot the barcode.

This is a fun joyous read, go find it now and enjoy it— pants on or off.


kevan atteberry


  1. Ha! I love the title . . . and I can tell already I’ll love the book. Thanks, Kevan, for sharing.

  2. Love the expression on Mom’s and Pete’s faces above. Those eyes! Can’t wait to check this out. Thanks, Kevan!

  3. I’m running, not walking, to go find this book. It looks awesome!!!
    Thanks for sharing!

  4. What great illustrations! Sounds like a fun read!

  5. I’m looking forward to this one.

  6. Looks like a great read!

  7. This looks adorable! Thanks for sharing! What’s not to love about ElePHANTS that don’t wear pants!

  8. Oh those worms! I love it when a picture book continues on all its physical surfaces – end-pages and covers included. This books looks great! Thanks for the post.

  9. Thanks for introducing me to Rowboat Watkins. I’ve got both his books on order.

  10. Wow, love this author; his illustrations, his ideas and his sense of humor! I can’t wait to read this. 🙂

  11. This looks great! Thanks for featuring it. And I noticed he’s on the All the Wonders podcast with Matthew Winner so I’ll have to give that a listen.

  12. What a great book – so funny. Thanks for sharing. Just saw the video of Rowboat Watkin’s process.

  13. Cassie Bentley

    Thanks for sharing. I agree the illustrations look whimsical and light. The title will catch kids kind of like Captain Underpants did.

  14. I love this book. Every time I read it, I laugh and notice something new. I’m sad to return it to the library.

  15. I can’t wait to get this! It looks and sounds wonderfully hilarious!

  16. This looks hilarious.

  17. I can’t wait to see this one, too, Kevin! Thanks for sharing more about it, it just looks adorable. Just the other day I heard a wonderful interview with Rowboat on All the Wonders podcast about this book, and it was so deep and thoughtful.

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