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Maria Salvadore

Reading Rockets’ children's literature expert, Maria Salvadore, brings you into her world as she explores the best ways to use kids’ books both inside — and outside — of the classroom.

A tip of the cap to kids' books about hats!

August 1, 2014

Hats have been around for a long, long time. They’ve been used to kept ears warm, identify one's chosen profession, protect heads from the elements, and more. So it's not surprising that hats abound in books for young readers.

There's a rather infamous cat whose red and white striped hat is now synonymous with easier to read material and mischief. A Caldecott Medal winner about a hat that gets snitched and another about a peddler of caps who gets involved in some monkey business. There's Jennie whose hat becomes more elegant with a little help from friends and the hat that expands and expands to keep animals warm until it can hold no more.

And now there's a stylish milliner who loses a hat but finds friends. A naughty crow snatches her hat as the well-dressed and talented but lonely Madame Chapeau goes out for a solo birthday celebration. While chasing the bird, she's offered hats of many styles by a host of hat-wearers — and winds up never dining alone again.

The rhyming text of Happy Birthday Madame Chapeau (Abrams) by Andrea Beaty provides a platform for swirling, stylized, imaginative illustrations by David Roberts. In a note, he admits he loves hats, having been a milliner himself. He also credits Isabella Bow's creativity and style as the inspiration of his two-dimensional inventions.

This note sent me on a search to find out about Isabella Bow and even begin to think about hats as an art form. (The costumes — especially the hats — on one of my guilty pleasures, Downton Abbey, seem to have achieved this status!)

I suppose it just goes to show that hats can do more than protect or define; they can delight and enlighten in different ways.


I was delighted to be reminded of "Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business" by Esphyr Slobodkina. It is one of my all time favorite classics! Adults, be sure to let the children help with this wonderful story. It has a lot of repetition and they will have great fun with it!

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"Books are a uniquely portable magic." —

Stephen King