Book: Hats Off to You!
Author: Karen Beaumont
Illustrator: LeUyen Pham
Age Range: 4-8
The just-released Hats Off to You! is a companion book to the glittery Shoe-la-la!. In the first book, four girls declare their love for shoes. In this new title, the same girls are enamored of hats: dramatic, sparkly, eye-catching hats. The story begins with Emily, Ashley, Kaitlyn, and Claire in an attic, dressing up in fancy clothes, but lacking hats. They go down to a street fair conveniently located below and find a tent called "Chez Chapeaux" (yes, this is one of those books that will have the reader rhyming everything by the end of a read-through). They try on a plethora of hats before returning to the attic to add extra decorations to their selections. Only at the end of the book does the reader learn that the outfits are for a mother-daughter tea.
Beaumont's bouncy text is read-aloud friendly and unabashedly glamour-focused. Like this:
"Oo-la-la! This hat's tres chic.
Mine was made in Mozambique.
Funky hat, to match my shoes.
I like the girly curlicues."
She does vary the meter occasionally, to keep things from getting too sing-songy. Like this:
"Emily, Ashley, Kaitlyn, Claire!
Need to choose new hats to wear.
Hats and more hats piled up high.
Which hats do we want to buy?
There's almost a Dr. Seuss feel to the above example, paired as it is with LeeUyen Pham's jaunty illustrations of the girls dancing around the store, following the vendor. Each ends up with a leaning stack of multiple hats atop her head. The vendor's clown-like attire adds to the over-the-top feel of the celebration.
As for the girls, they are adorable, with big smiles, and apparently boundless energy. They represent a range of ethnicities, with the hat-seller adding yet another gradation of skin tones. Each mom strongly resembles her daughter, and the book ends in warm hugs and thanks to the moms for all that they do. What mom wouldn't want to read this with her daughter? What six-year-old wouldn't delight in the crazy hats that end up on the moms' heads?
Hats Off to You! is a delightful celebration of friendship, motherhood, and dressing up. It is multicultural without being "about" diversity, which is, I think, a great way to go when you can pull it off. While clearly aimed at four to eight year old girls, I could see Hats Off to You! appealing to that segment of little boys who like dressing up, too. It is read-aloud friendly and one that I look forward to sharing with my own six-year-old. Recommended!
Publisher: Scholastic (@Scholastic)
Publication Date: February 28, 2017
Source of Book: Advance review copy from the publisher
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