Mr. Brown's Fantastic Hat

Mr. Brown's Fantastic Hat

by Ayano Imai
     
 

An enchantingly positive story of love, loneliness, and the hope of renewal

“Who needs friends?” thinks Mr. Brown. “I can suit myself and wear my smart hat all day long.” Try as he might, however, Mr. Brown is lonely. But when a woodpecker decides Mr. Brown needs some company, his life is transformed.

Overview

An enchantingly positive story of love, loneliness, and the hope of renewal

“Who needs friends?” thinks Mr. Brown. “I can suit myself and wear my smart hat all day long.” Try as he might, however, Mr. Brown is lonely. But when a woodpecker decides Mr. Brown needs some company, his life is transformed.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
07/21/2014
In this offbeat turn on the theme of the lonely recluse, Imai (Puss & Boots) draws a top-hatted, umbrella-carrying bear who doesn’t care that no one likes him: “He told himself life was perfect without anybody fussing over him.” But someone does want to be close to him—or, more accurately, to his hat. A woodpecker begins building a nest in it as Mr. Brown naps in a tree. Before the bear knows it, his hat magically begins to grow skyward, more woodpeckers join the first, and suddenly his life is filled with unsought beauty and community. Imai’s delicate, light-filled graphite and watercolor pictures do not aim for laughter. Instead, she brings wildlife and civilization into gentle, unexpected collision. A small but beautifully formed tree grows out of Mr. Brown’s tablecloth, a fish hangs from his ceiling, and grass starts to creep across his polished hardwood floors as he hibernates. There’s little interaction between words and pictures—text and illustration could easily stand independently—but Imai’s artwork has a marvelous, surreal dignity that casts a memorable spell. Ages 3–5. (Sept.)
From the Publisher

“Elegant, spare prose and stunning, imaginative illustrations breathe new life into old tales in this collection of Aesop’s fables. . . . The pictures are definitely worth the price of admission.” —Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, starred review, on Aesop’s Fables

"A beautiful picture book with a lovely story. Perfect for more quiet children or anyone that likes birds/lovely artwork." —Michele Bellah, Copperfield's Books

"Splendid, surrealistic illustrations . . . The sheer whimsy of the bear and the simplicity of his cottage and the surrounding town add a quaintness that is quite touching. Savvy readers will enjoy the detailed and dreamy, imaginative artwork, including stunning illustrations of birds. With a binding as tall as Mr. Brown’s hat, this book will require a special place on your bookshelves. But it won’t stay there long." —Carol Connor, School Library Journal

"An effervescent, heart-gladdening tale about the inexplicable, yet very real transformative power of friendship. The give-and-take, caring-and-sharing between Mr. Bear and his hatted companions celebrate how magic can and will happen." —Terry Hong, smithsonianapa.org

School Library Journal
10/01/2014
K-Gr 3—Mr. Brown, a bear, lives alone and has no friends. He tells himself that he likes it that way, but he is secretly lonely. He wears a smart top hat when he goes out for long walks. One day, a woodpecker decides to make a nest in Mr. Brown's hat while he is sleeping. Soon, other birds join in and make lovely homes in Mr. Brown's stovepipe hat. To his amazement, the hat begins to grow taller as more and more birds make their homes in it. At first, Mr. Brown isn't pleased, but slowly he begins to enjoy their singing, and his reputation (and his hat's) grows among the town's people. The birds soon become Mr. Brown's constant companions and travel with him everywhere. One cold autumn morning, Mr. Brown awakens to find the birds had all left him. As the days grow colder, he misses his friends more and more. Winter is approaching, and Mr. Brown needs to hibernate. Will he ever see his beloved friends again? Splendid, surrealistic illustrations contribute to the fantastical nature of this story. The sheer whimsy of the bear and the simplicity of his cottage and the surrounding town add a quaintness that is quite touching. Savvy readers will enjoy the detailed and dreamy, imaginative artwork, including stunning illustrations of birds. With a binding as tall as Mr. Brown's hat, this book will require a special place on your bookshelves. But it won't stay there long.—Carol Connor, Cincinnati Public Schools, OH
Kirkus Reviews
2014-07-29
A fanciful picture book about the value of friendship. "Mr. Brown had no friends and he didn't want any." So begins the tale of a reclusive bear who finds that his hat becomes a home to myriad birds. As time passes, he grows fond of their company. Imai's transcendent illustrations evoke an otherworldly mood with their portrayal of everyday objects and scenes with unusual juxtapositions—a bird nestles in a teacup; a tiny tree grows out of the dining table. The illustrations' dreamlike atmosphere is enhanced by the soft, precise technique the illustrator employs. With such perfectly rendered images, readers expect the text to ring with the same soft precision, but there is a bit too much telling of that which is already shown visually, which dilutes the effect. The book's impeccable design pays close attention to detail, from its vertical layout (to accentuate the tall hat the birds live in) and clever endpapers to the placement of the illustrations and text. The text is on the verso only and is accompanied by a small spot illustration, while a full-page illustration is on the recto. This intentional use of white space on each spread enhances the story's restful, dreamy atmosphere. A delicate, whimsical story that succeeds completely in its illustrations and design and a little less so in its text. (Picture book. 3-8)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9789888240845
Publisher:
minedition
Publication date:
09/01/2014
Pages:
32
Sales rank:
808,609
Product dimensions:
8.60(w) x 12.50(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
3 - 5 Years

Meet the Author

Ayano Imai is the illustrator of The 108th Sheep, Aesop’s Fables, Chester, Puss & Boots, and The Town Mouse and Country Mouse.

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