The Hat That Wore Clara B.
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The Hat That Wore Clara B.

by Melanie Turner-Denstaedt, Frank Morrison
     
 

On Mother’s Sunday at church, Clara B.’s grandma has the most beautiful hat of all the ladies. When people compliment her on it, she says, “Honey, I’m not wearing this hat. This hat is wearing me!” Clara B. likes to sit behind the hat in church and pretend it is wearing her. One day Clara B. decides that pretending isn’t enough,

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Overview

On Mother’s Sunday at church, Clara B.’s grandma has the most beautiful hat of all the ladies. When people compliment her on it, she says, “Honey, I’m not wearing this hat. This hat is wearing me!” Clara B. likes to sit behind the hat in church and pretend it is wearing her. One day Clara B. decides that pretending isn’t enough, and she waits for her chance at the hat. But when the right moment comes along and she finally gets her hands on it, things don’t go exactly as she’d planned . . .

Exuberant illustrations by Frank Morrison perfectly capture a colorful African American Baptist tradition – and the special relationship between a girl, her grandma, and a big, bold, beautiful hat.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“The illustrative oil paintings are at their best in the vivid crowd scenes: the pageantry in the African-American church, with the styles carrying from elders to youth is rich and glorious.” –Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“A wonderful family story that celebrates the bond between generations.” School Library Journal

“Morrison’s illustrations superbly complement the words, sequential panels drawing out Clara B.’s boredom as she waits for her opportunity, full-bleed spreads skillfully varying perspective and composition to tell the story, fine-tuned pacing leading up to the inevitable moment when Clara B. crushes Grandma’s hat.” —Kirkus Reviews

Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
It is Mother's Sunday, a traditional day in African American culture when older ladies wear particularly beautiful hats to church. Clara B. rushes to sit behind her grandmother, who wears her special "good" hat only on this day. Grandmother says that the hat really wears her, and Clara B. longs to have it wear her. Clara B. goes home with Grandma after church, helps her shop, and waits for the chance to get that hat throughout supper and clean-up time. When Grandma finally naps, Clara B. snatches the hat but crushes it in her haste. She tries to fix it, and leaves a note to say she is sorry, but fears what Grandma may say. On the next Mother's Sunday, Clara B. is pleasantly surprised to find a beautiful new hat on her seat, just like Grandma's old one, and Grandma is smiling as the old one, fixed by Clara B., is wearing her. Morrison's detailed painted scenes include a cast of believable folks, particularly the charming but impish Clara B. Double-page scenes depict the community members, while sequential vignettes display the events leading to the accident. The dual facing portraits of Grandma and Clara B. in their special hats make a glowing finale. A note adds information on the tradition of Mother's Sunday. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal

K-Gr 3

It is Mother's Sunday, "when the older ladies dressed in crisp white suits and wore clean white gloves...and hats. Big, bold, beautifully colored hats." Clara B. is in a rush to sit into the pew just behind the lady with the best one-her grandmother. When complimented on her broad-brimmed pink chapeau, the woman responds, "Honey, I'm not wearing this hat. The hat is wearing me !" Clara is not allowed to touch it, but she is determined to try it on. Later, when her grandmother dozes off in an armchair, Clara finally gets her hands on the hat. In the bedroom, she stumbles and accidentally crushes it. Then she tries to repair it, snipping and gluing with "supplies from Grandma's craft drawer." She returns it to the box with a note of apology. The next Mother's Sunday, Clara is apprehensive, but then she finds a pink hatbox labeled "Child's Medium " on her pew seat. In many African-American churches, it is customary for women to wear elegant, stylish, often large, elaborate hats, especially on Mother's Sunday. Turner-Denstaedt provides a brief explanation of this tradition. Morrison's large and expressive paintings are suffused with warmth and reflect the text beautifully. This is a wonderful family story that celebrates the bond between generations.-Mary N. Oluonye, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH

Kirkus Reviews
Mother's Sunday is the day older women wear their finest white suits and fanciest hats to church. Clara B.'s favorite is Grandma's hat, about which Grandma says when complimented, "Honey, I'm not wearing this hat. This hat is wearing me!" Clara B. desperately wants to wear the hat, but the answer is always no. On this Mother's Sunday, she has had enough and is determined that the hat will wear her, too! Turner-Denstaedt's text describes Clara B.'s methodical progress, detailed scenes and descriptions drawing readers into the story. Morrison's illustrations superbly complement the words, sequential panels drawing out Clara B.'s boredom as she waits for her opportunity, full-bleed spreads skillfully varying perspective and composition to tell the story, fine-tuned pacing leading up to the inevitable moment when Clara B. crushes Grandma's hat. Readers will see and feel Clara's horror in this gasp-inducing moment. Sadly, the author passed away in 2007, leaving this vibrant work for readers in the here and now. (Picture book. 4-9)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780374327941
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
03/31/2009
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
9.10(w) x 11.10(h) x 0.50(d)
Lexile:
AD710L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

MELANIE TURNER-DENSTAEDT (1963–2007) lived in Upland, California, with her husband and five children. This was her first book. FRANK MORRISON has illustrated many books, including Jazzy Miz Mozetta by Brenda C. Roberts, for which he received the Coretta Scott King / John Steptoe New Talent Award. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

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