My Red Hat by Rachel Stubbs

Cover image

My Red Hat by Rachel Stubbs (9781536212716)

A grandfather gives his red hat to his granddaughter. He explains the amazing things that the hat is capable of. It can make you stand out in a crowd or blend right in. It can keep you warm and dry or keep you cool in the sun. It can be used for serious and silly reasons. Wearing the hat, you can go anywhere you like: low, high or on real adventures, until you are ready to come back home again. It is your hat.

Stubbs takes a very simple and familiar event, the gifting of a hat into a level of wonder and dreams in this picture book. Using very simple language, she has created a book that reads aloud brilliantly. The pace manages to be both fast and rather dreamy, revealing new opportunities that the hat provides at each turn of the page. It is the relationship between grandparent and grandchild here that is beautifully portrayed while never being overtly discussed in the text.

The illustrations are done in a limited color palette with teal, red and pink the primary colors. On each page, the red pops out, focusing on the hat itself. The illustrations have enough details to linger over, particularly the crowd scenes that fill double-page spreads.

A warm look at the role of grandparents to inspire discovery and self-esteem. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Walker Books.

Review: Do You Believe in Unicorns? by Bethanie Deeney Murguia

Do You Believe in Unicorns by Bethanie Deeney Murguia

Do You Believe in Unicorns? by Bethanie Deeney Murguia (9780763694685)

That must be a horse wearing a tall hat, right? It couldn’t be a unicorn in disguise. Perhaps it’s all in how you choose to see things. Maybe the horse is having a bad hair day? It could just like the color red. Yet even when the hat is removed, there’s still a question of whether you the reader believe in unicorns or not. So, do you?

This very simple book has text with a modern vibe that keeps the book firmly rooted in today rather than a mythical world. So the questions become whether young readers believe in unicorns right now, or not. The illustrations are a huge part of the book, particularly when the hat comes off. The horn question remains unanswered thanks to clever formations and shapes behind the animal’s head.

Funny and nicely designed for both horse and unicorn lovers. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy provided by Candlewick Press.


A Hat for Mrs. Goldman by Michelle Edwards


A Hat for Mrs. Goldman by Michelle Edwards, illustrated by G. Brian Karas (InfoSoup)

Sophie first got a hat knit by Mrs. Goldman when she was a tiny baby. Now Sophie helps by making pom-poms for Mrs. Goldman’s hats. She learns about doing good deeds or “mitzvahs” for people. When Mrs. Goldman and Sophie head outside into the blustery weather to walk her dog Fifi, everyone has something knit to keep them warm except for Mrs. Goldman. So Sophie decides to knit a hat for Mrs. Goldman. It takes some time to knit and meanwhile there are more cold walks. When it’s done though, the hat isn’t perfect. It is lumpy and has holes where there shouldn’t be any. Sophie though has a plan that will make this a hat worthy of Mrs. Goldman.

This picture book is pure bliss. Edwards has created a vivid friendship between a grandmotherly neighbor and a young girl. There is kindness throughout, both in terms of the knitting but also the small kindnesses done for one another. Little details bring the world fully alive, like Sophie’s knitting that she started with Mrs. Goldman smelling of chicken soup, such a warm and homey smell.

The illustrations by Karas are lovely. They show the hard work that Sophie puts in, her frustrations and her successes. They show the cold walks and the fierce winds, the attempts at wearing scarves. They show the joy of completion and then the dismay at seeing that the hat is not perfect. And finally, they show the real hat that is glorious and unique.

A lovely book sure to warm up your own chilly fall and winter days. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.


Review: Hooray for Hat! by Brian Won

hooray for hat

Hooray for Hat! by Brian Won

Elephant wakes up very grumpy until he finds a present waiting for him on the doorstep and it has one amazing hat inside.  He puts it on and heads off to show Zebra, but Zebra is grumpy too, so Elephant gives Zebra one of his hats.  Soon they have helped Turtle and Owl be less grumpy too by sharing hats with them as well.  They came to Lion who was feeling sad and giving him a hat didn’t help because he was worried that Giraffe was feeling sick.  So they all came up with a great plan to help Giraffe feel better.  I bet you can guess that it involves…hats!

Won has created an entirely jolly book that shows just how small things can change a person’s mood or emotions.  The book is very simply written and repeats nicely as each animal is introduced.  This makes it a great pick for toddlers who will enjoy the repetition as well as the different animals in the book.  It is also a nice book to talk with the smallest children about feeling grumpy and also how important sharing things can be.

Won’s art focuses on the animals themselves with only touches of backgrounds or even ground around and underneath them.  The colors pop when the hats enter the pages, bright and vibrantly different, they are all a hoot.

Cheery and friendly, this book is a happy look at changing emotions and sharing good fortune.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Brimsby’s Hats by Andrew Prahin

brimsbys hats

Brimsby’s Hats by Andrew Prahin

Brimsby was a hat maker and he had a quiet life.  He had a best friend and they had wonderful conversations together over a marvelous cup of tea.  But then his friend decided that he wanted to be a ship captain and left for the sea.  Brimsby’s life changed suddenly and he was all alone.  He set out on a walk when he was feeling particularly lonely and came upon a tree full of birds trying to remove snow from their nests and keep warm.  Brimsby thought they would make marvelous friends, but the birds were too busy working to talk with him.  Brimsby headed back home after dark all alone and sat in his dark home and thought.  Can a lonely hat maker figure out how to make new friends?

This story has such a complete feel to it.  Unlike other stories about friendship that can become trite, this one has nuance and balance.  Prahin creates a central character who is believable and understandable.  He also builds the book around a universal theme.  Then he takes a different approach to the solution of finding new friends that is completely surprising and satisfying.

His art is equally pleasing with its rich colors playing against pastels.  There is a lightness to the illustrations and also a great quirky feel to them that matches the story well.  He uses perspectives and dark and light to reveal just how lonely Brimsby becomes after his friend leaves.

A thoughtful and creative look at friendship that is entirely exceptional and perfect for a wintry day.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Simon & Schuster.

Review: Red Hat by Lita Judge

red hat

Red Hat by Lita Judge

This picture book is a companion to Red Sled.  It features that same red hat that was in the first book, but here it is no longer winter and the hat is washed and hung up to dry on the line.  That’s when it is spotted by an eager bear, who snatches it off the line and runs off with it.  But he is not alone, as he dashes, other animals pull and tug, freeing the white pompom and unraveling the bright red yarn as they play.  They leave the mass of yarn hung on the line in place of the hat!  But don’t worry, a happy ending can be knit from the most tangled yarn.

Told almost entirely in sounds rather than words, this book is filled with a wonderful silliness that makes it hard not to giggle from the first longing glance of the bear to the final pages where the animals are pretending innocence at what happened.  The center of the book is a wild chase scene as the hat unravels, adding a great rush of fast pacing into the story.

A great book, even better when read with the first one too.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen

this is not my hat

This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen

I never expected to see a sequel to I Want My Hat Back but I am so thrilled that Klassen saw things differently.  This second book has a similar theme to it with a stolen hat, but it has entirely different characters.  This time the story is set underwater with fish playing the major roles.  One little fish has stolen a hat from a big sleeping fish.  He knows it was wrong, but justifies it by the fact the hat looks so much better on him and fits better too.  As he flees to the thick reeds to hide, he thinks to himself about how clever he has been, that the fish would never notice it missing, that he wouldn’t know where to look for the thief, on and on.  And with each sentence, the readers will see that he’s wrong, very wrong.

This sequel has the same understated style of the first and the same wonderful sense of humor that is exquisitely funny.  Klassen maximizes the humor with his flawless ability to tell one story in the words and an entirely different one with the action of what really happens. 

For all the fans of the first book, this is one that works best if you have read the first, but also stands on its own completely.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

i want my hat back

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

Published September 27, 2011.

I don’t think I can express how much I love this picture book.  It happily breaks all picture book rules by using a very muted palette with punches of color, not having much action at all, and ending with a dark twist.

The bear, who narrates the book in first person, is searching for his hat.  He asks one animal after the next about his hat and no one has seen it.  The only exception is the rabbit who is wearing a distinctive bright red pointy hat and seems to be protesting too much.  The bear continues past him though and on to several more animals until suddenly he realizes that he HAS seen his hat!  He rushes back past all of the animals until he reaches the rabbit.  And to find out what happens next, you will just have to read this humdinger of a picture book.

The illustrations are subtle, clever and in their understated way, hilarious.  The deadpan of the animals, the grasses and rocks near each of them on a tan page, all add up to the perfect background for this surprising story.

Klassen’s wording is perfection.  Each animal has a straight-forward response except the rabbit, so readers will be sure to notice the frenzied excuses being made.  He also incorporates plenty of repetition into the book which makes it flow like a book for preschoolers, but the humor will be enjoyed by older readers most of all.

Get your hands on this one, it is a clever, funny read with a dark twist.  What more could you ask for?  Appropriate for children ages 4-6, but most appreciated by children 7-12.

Reviewed from ARC received from Candlewick Press.

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Millie’s Marvelous Hat

Millie’s Marvelous Hat by Satoshi Kitamura

When Millie spots the hat with the colorful feathers in a shop window, she stops in to try it on.  But when she decides to buy it, it turns out to much too expensive.  After all, she is looking for a free hat.  The gentleman at the store thinks a bit and then comes up with a hat that can be anything that Millie wishes it to be, all it takes is a little imagination.  Millie imagines a peacock hat, with the gorgeous tail.  She passes a bakery and the hat turns into a cake hat.  A flower shop turns it flowery.  The park turns it into a fountain hat!  Then she realizes that everyone she passes has their own special hat if she only looks for it.

The exuberance of this book is great fun.  Kitamura takes great pleasure in creating different sorts of hats and bringing them to stunning realization.  Kitamura’s art is whimsical and very friendly.  His story is filled with imagination and a sense of fun.  The book is sure to get everyone thinking about what their own personal hat would look like. 

Mine?  Oh, my hat changes of course, but right now it is autumn leaves that blow about with gusts of wind that catch in the hair of people I pass by.  What about you?

Crafty teachers and librarians will be able to create hat crafts to go with this book. It will pair nicely with other hat books like Caps for Sale.  Appropriate for ages 3-6.

Reviewed from copy received from publisher.  The copy will be placed in library collection.