Book: Brimsby's Hats
Author: Andrew Prahin
Age Range: 4-8
Brimsby's Hats by Andrew Prahin is about a little green guy (some sort of unidentifiable animal character) who makes beautiful hats. HIs best friend helps him by making "the most wonderful tea" and assisting in packing up the hats for shipping. But most importantly, the two friends have "the most wonderful conversations." When Brimsby's friend decides to move away, to fulfill a lifelong desire to be a sea captain, Brimsby is very lonely. Eventually, however, Brimsby uses his hat-making skills to help him to make some new friends. The book concludes on a happy note, with Brimsby and his new friends visiting the old sea captain friend, and all of them talking about "hats and shovels and ships and how wonderful it was that they had all been lucky enough to meet one another."
OK, when I read my own description of this book, it sounds a bit saccharine. But it doesn't read that way. I think this is because of Prahin's matter-of-fact tone. Like this:
"The hat maker worked for many quiet days after that, and had many quiet cups of tea.
(They weren't nearly as wonderful as the tea his friend used to make.)
It was quiet.
One day the hat maker realized he had become awfully lonely."
The above text is spread out across a series of panels, each showing Brimsby by himself at a table for two, making his lonely hats and drinking his lonely tea, as the seasons change outside his window, and winter comes.
Prahin's Adobe Illustrator-generated pictures use the pure white backdrop of the snow to accentuate Brimsby's loneliness. But there's humor, too. Brimsby encounters a group of birds, all nesting in a tree, keeping warm with little stoves as they sweep the snow out of their nests. There's a graphic artist feel to the illustrations - they are a bit stylized - and I think this helps keep the book from feeling too sentimental, too. There's an early sequence in which Brimsby and his friend are talking, and the author shows the things that they talk about as images in text bubbles: the two friends dressed as pirates, fighting dragons and a giant purple octopus.
Brimsby's Hats is a book that makes me happy when I read it. I think that young readers will enjoy it, too. Although it is technically about the importance of finding friends, Prahin steers well away from the didactic by focusing on the efforts and experiences of one quirky little hat maker. Recommended for home or library use.
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (@SimonKids)
Publication Date: December 31, 2013
Source of Book: Library copy
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