Mr. Zinger's Hat

Mr. Zinger's Hat

by Cary Fagan, Dusan Petricic

Cary Fagan is the award-winning author of several young adult novels and picture books. This wonderful new story is about stories, and story-telling, and is sure to enchant and instruct children at home and at school for years to come.
This is the story of a bored little boy, who meets a man, and together they build a story. This story within a


Cary Fagan is the award-winning author of several young adult novels and picture books. This wonderful new story is about stories, and story-telling, and is sure to enchant and instruct children at home and at school for years to come.
This is the story of a bored little boy, who meets a man, and together they build a story. This story within a story is charming and changes both their lives... and quite possibly the readers as well.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Leo’s mother has told him not to disturb Mr. Zinger, who’s a writer, but when Leo’s ball sends Mr. Zinger’s hat flying, the old man invites Leo to sit and talk. The man begins by gazing into his wayward hat to see what made it fly off. “Ah, I see now,” he says. “It’s a story. A story trying to get out.” Mr. Zinger starts a tale, weaving into it Leo’s many interruptions and suggestions; it’s clear he’s an old storytelling hand. Petricic (who teamed with Fagan on My New Shirt) uses simple outlines and candy colors for the story-within-a-story and somber shades and cross-hatching for the scenes of Mr. Zinger and Leo—so distinct are the styles, they could easily be the work of two separate, equally accomplished illustrators. When Mr. Zinger says good-bye, Leo asks if he will write the story they’ve just made. “No,” Mr. Zinger replies, generously. “That’s not my story, that’s your story.” Fagan’s dialogue moves smartly, almost independently of the artwork, yet Petricic’s drawings give needed warmth to the relationship between Leo and Mr. Zinger. Ages 4–6. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
“Every child needs a Mr. Zinger – and his hat! – in his or her life…. This book oh-so-softly brings across a sweet, multigenerational message about sharing the power of imagination.”
“The illustrations by Dušan Petrièiæ are beautiful and very expressive.”
—Highly Recommended, CM Magazine

 “A charming, marvelous tale surrounding the art of creating and telling stories, Mr. Zinger’s Hat celebrates the budding friendship between an elderly writer and a young boy who discovers a storyteller within … Fagan’s writing is beautifully crafted … Petričić’s engaging artwork deftly juxtaposes two distinct styles which portray a real-life setting and an imaginary world … The illustrations vividly depict the storyteller’s wry humour and the boy’s wide-eyed innocence.”
– Jury Members (Winner of the 2013 Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award)

Children's Literature - Lisa Colozza Cocca
When the wind blows Mr. Zinger's hat onto Leo's head, the boy learns where Mr. Zinger gets his stories from—he pulls them out of his hat. Leo abandons playing for a while to sit and talk with Mr. Zinger, an author. Mr. Zinger tells Leo his hat probably came off because there is a story inside trying to get out. Mr. Zinger then starts the story and prompts Leo to add the details. The two continue to take turns adding to the story until the end. When the story is finished, Mr. Zinger takes his hat back and goes home. Leo returns to playing and is joined by Sophie. When the children get tired, they sit on the bench. Leo takes off his baseball cap and explains he has a story in there. The pair then starts a new story together. The story within a story format is reflected in the illustrations which shift between styles. The book is better described as an illustrated story book than as a true picture book in that the text can stand independent of the illustrations. It will make a solid addition to a collection featuring writing and storytelling.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3—Leo is playing by himself when the wind picks up his ball, which knocks off an elderly man's hat. Leo helps catch it, and the two sit down on a bench. Mr. Zinger, a writer, tells Leo that there is a story in his hat, and the boy then proceeds to help him fill in the details. When it is finished, Mr. Zinger says good-bye, and Leo begins to bounce his ball again. This time, it flies off into the hands of a girl. Leo and Sophie play until they are tired and then sit on the bench. Leo takes off his cap and…. This circular tale nicely illustrates the use of imagination and the power of story. The text is just right for newly proficient readers and teachers could easily use it in writing lessons. Petricic's illustrations extend the narrative. In the "real" world, the pictures are done with a watercolor wash. In the story portion, they are composed of flat, opaque colors on a cream background. The book is nicely designed, with plenty of white space and typesetting that sometimes flows along with the wind. Budding storytellers will appreciate this book.—Angela J. Reynolds, Annapolis Valley Regional Library, Bridgetown, NS, Canada
Kirkus Reviews
Here's one answer, at least, to the archetypal question about where stories come from: Their authors pull them out of hats! When old Mr. Zinger's windblown hat lands atop young Leo, the elder's suggestion that there must be a story inside it trying to get out leads the pair to make up a tale about a rich but bored lad who offers half his possessions to anyone who can cheer him up. The elder gently prods Leo to come up with all the major details--including the solution, which isn't a flat-screen television, a live monkey or other high-profile item but a simple ball and a boy to share. Zinger then departs, leaving Leo to continue playing alone with his ball as he was before...until a new friend named Sophie shows up to share both the ball and the creation of a brand new story from Leo's own cap. Petricic alternates loosely brushed, sketchily detailed watercolors to illustrate the frame story with even more simply drawn cartoons for the newly invented tales. In doing so, he expertly evokes the episode's understated warmth while cranking up the visual appeal with a set of distinctly delineated central characters interacting comfortably with one another. A thoroughly engaging addition to the shelf of stories about storymaking. (Picture book. 6-9)

Product Details

Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.41(w) x 10.28(h) x 0.38(d)
Age Range:
4 - 6 Years

Meet the Author

Cary Fagan has received the Toronto Book Award, the Jewish Book Committee Prize for Fiction, and the Mr. Christie Silver Medal. His recent picture books include Ten Old Men and a Mouse, My New Shirt, and Thing-Thing. His children's novels include The Fortress of Kaspar Snit (Silver Birch Honor Book), Directed by Kaspar Snit (Silver Birch nominee), and Ten Lessons for Kaspar Snit. Cary Fagan lives in Toronto.
Dusan Petricic is the award-winning illustrator of more than twenty books for children including My New Shirt by Cary Fagan. A former professor of illustration and book design, his work appears in The New York Times, Scientific American, The Wall Street Journal, and The Toronto Star. He lives in Toronto.

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