The Hat

( 13 )


November 1997

With more than 12 million books in print, Jan Brett is unquestionably one of the world's top author-illustrators. Now she has created a tale sure to please her loyal fans and destined to draw in legions of new ones. The Hat is a delightful story with a strong Scandinavian influence, told as much through Brett's illustrations as through her words.

In The Hat, a little hedgehog, appropriately ...

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November 1997

With more than 12 million books in print, Jan Brett is unquestionably one of the world's top author-illustrators. Now she has created a tale sure to please her loyal fans and destined to draw in legions of new ones. The Hat is a delightful story with a strong Scandinavian influence, told as much through Brett's illustrations as through her words.

In The Hat, a little hedgehog, appropriately named Hedgie, finds himself stuck a stocking, which has blown off the clothesline. As the barnyard animals laugh and poke fun at Hedgie's new "hat," Hedgie convinces them that everyone needs a winter hat to keep warm as the cold months approach.

When Lisa, the clothing's owner, realizes that her stocking is missing, she tracks down Hedgie to take it back, only to discover that all the animals in the farm are now wearing clothing articles from her clothesline! In the end, Lisa has to run around the farm, retrieving her clothes from the animals.

Brett fans will not be surprised that the author's real-life pet hedgehog, Buffy, inspired The Hat: One morning, after searching and searching, Brett and her husband were amused to discover that Buffy had climbed into a slipper sock and was unable to get out because of her spines. A trip to Denmark and the sight of its beautiful scenery was also an influence on the book, which features colorful illustrations, subplots played out in the pages' borders, and all the distinctive elements that Brett fans -- both children and adults -- love so much.

When Lisa hangs her woolen clothes in the sun to air them out for winter, the hedgehog, to the amusement of the other animals, ends up wearing a stocking on his head.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this agreeable companion to The Mitten, a Scandinavian girl prepares for winter's arrival by hanging her woolens out to air. When a red-and-white patterned sock falls from the line and gets stuck on his prickles, a hedgehog who bears the too-cute name of Hedgie acquires a curious-looking hat. Various farmyard animals mock him, but when Hedgie explains that his new headgear will protect him from the impending snowfall, they are inspired to search out similar garb. Leaving a more lasting impression than this sparse plot, Brett's signature art introduces animal characters as endearing and expressive as those who congregated in her earlier book's expandable white mitten. The format here is familiar as well: the artist frames her double-page pictures with broad borders depicting additional goings-on that hint at the tale's outcome. As before, Brett demonstrates an expert eye for color, rendering the child's embroidered coat and lush, patterned knits in vivid primary hues that pop boldly from the cool, subdued tones of the northern winter landscape and sky. Ages 4-8. Sept.
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
It's signature Brett: The Hat is peopled with a variety of cute creatures and most importantly, the star of the story, Hedgie, the hedgehog. As with several of her other books, there are two related stories depicted. The large illustrations and text recount Hedgie's predicament when a sock ends up on his head-caught up in his prickly spines. Teased by the other animals, Hedgie touts the benefits of wearing a hat. The second story told in the cameo insets has all of the other animals taking clothes from the clothesline to create their own hats. It is a funny story that is nicely resolved. The artwork, featuring a Scandinavian farm, will enthrall kids who love detail and especially those who are old enough to get the visual humor.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3A clever and appealing picture book. In preparation for cold weather, Lisa takes her winter clothes out of their storage chest and hangs them up in the fresh air. A strong wind blows one of her knit socks off the line. A hedgehog sticks his head inside, and it becomes stuck on his quills. When a hen, goose, cat, dog, pig, and horse laugh at his appearance, he tries to salvage his dignity by telling each one that his new hat will keep him dry, warm, and cozy throughout the winter. Finally, Lisa finds him and removes her sock, telling him that animals don't wear clothing. But when she goes back to the clothesline, she sees all of the animals wearing her gloves, sweaters, and scarves on their heads. Brett's illustrations are done in her trademark style of highly detailed depictions of her characters and a creative use of borders. Contained within them are small illustrations foreshadowing what will happen next. Shades of grays and greens capture the chilly autumn landscape. Against this background, the earthy colors of the animals and the deep red of Lisa's sock make a stark contrast. The pictures, story, and subject matter make this a natural for sharing aloud. And while very young children may need to have the humor of Hedgie's predicament explained to them, the book's appeal will be broad.Denise Anton Wright, Illinois State University, Normal
Kirkus Reviews
In a companion book to Brett's The Mitten (1989), a little girl decides to unpack her winter woolens from their decorated chest and hang them out on a line to air before winter comes. The format is the same as that of the first book, with a large main illustration on each page and window frames showing other action occurring at the same time. A curious hedgehog puts his head into a fallen stocking, and—because of his prickles—can't get unstuck. Hedgie encounters other animals, each of whom wants to know about the stuck sock; the hedgehog gives several reasons for its presence: It's a beautiful hat, it will keep him dry, it will keep his ears warm, etc. Each animal runs off with a mission—culling clothes from the line to wear. Throughout, the girl reads, watches out the window, spies the entangled hedgehog, frees him, and tells him that animals don't wear clothes. The satisfying story celebrates the cozy hearth, home, and barnyard of picturesque Scandinavian country life, frozen in time. Brett's somber tones of pre-winter are enlivened by the intricate, colorful clothing; her fine, independent heroine is in charge of the story, and the inventive little hedgehog triumphs as well.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399231018
  • Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Publication date: 9/28/1997
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 39,996
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: 440L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.10 (w) x 8.68 (h) x 0.34 (d)

Meet the Author

Jan Brett

With over thirty four million books in print, Jan Brett is one of the nation's foremost author illustrators of children's books. Jan lives in a seacoast town in Massachusetts, close to where she grew up. During the summer her family moves to a home in the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts.

As a child, Jan Brett decided to be an illustrator and spent many hours reading and drawing. She says, "I remember the special quiet of rainy days when I felt that I could enter the pages of my beautiful picture books. Now I try to recreate that feeling of believing that the imaginary place I'm drawing really exists. The detail in my work helps to convince me, and I hope others as well, that such places might be real."

As a student at the Boston Museum School, she spent hours in the Museum of Fine Arts. "It was overwhelming to see the room-size landscapes and towering stone sculptures, and then moments later to refocus on delicately embroidered kimonos and ancient porcelain," she says. "I'm delighted and surprised when fragments of these beautiful images come back to me in my painting."

Travel is also a constant inspiration. Together with her husband, Joe Hearne, who is a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Jan visits many different countries where she researches the architecture and costumes that appear in her work. "From cave paintings to Norwegian sleighs, to Japanese gardens, I study the traditions of the many countries I visit and use them as a starting point for my children's books."

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Read an Excerpt

The Hat

By Jan Brett

Putnam Publishing Group

Copyright © 1997 Jan Brett
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0399231013

Chapter One

Winter was coming. Lisa took out her warm clothes.

She was hanging them up when the wind blew away one of her socks.

Hedgie found it, poked his nose in and got stuck. Oh no! he thought. I'll never get this off.

"Cackle, cackle," the mother hen said. "What's that thing on your head, Hedgie?"

"Why, it's my new hat," he sniffed. "Oh," said the mother hen. And off she ran.

"Honk! Honk! Ho, ho," the gander laughed. "Laugh, Gander. But when it rains, my hat will keep me dry."

Hmmm, the gander thought. And off he ran.

"Meow," the barn cat called down. "You look funny today, Hedgie." "Maybe, but I will be warm in the snow." "Ah ha ..." purred the cat. And off he ran.

"Is that you in a hat, Hedgie?" the farm dog barked.

"Why not? It's very cozy," he said.

Her ears perked up. "Woof! Woof!" And off she ran.

"Oink! Oink!" the mama pig squeled. "What are you up to, Hedgie?"

"Making sure my hat doesn't blow off." "I see," said the mama pig. And off she ran.

"You look ridiculous, Hedgie!" the pony snorted.

"Why? Shouldn't everyone wear a hat in the ice and snow?"

Good idea! the pony thought. And off he ran.

Hedgie just wanted to be alone.

Everyone was laughing at him with this thing on his head.

Even Lisa was running after him. "Stop!" She wanted her sock back.

"Oh, no," Hedgie said. "Now the girl is laughing at me too!"


Excerpted from The Hat by Jan Brett Copyright © 1997 by Jan Brett. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Interviews & Essays

Before the live chat, Jan Brett agreed to answer some of our questions:

Q:  What was it like painting at the annual Easter Egg Roll at the White House?

A:  It was a great sense of history to be there, and it makes you feel like you are in touch with children who might not normally be reading children's books. I met a lot of children who had never met an illustrator before. A lot of kids would come by my easel, and they would see me painting on it. It was great for them to see how much time and thought that it takes to draw. I think they could sense how happy I am when I do it. Just like Tom Sawyer painting his fence.

Q:  What type of artistic or literary research did you do for The Hat?

A:  I went to Denmark and spent ten days there. During the ten days, we stayed in a 400-year-old inn with a thatched roof and a lot of the animals that appear in the book. We stayed on the island of Fuenan, the middle island of Denmark. The light was also beautiful. I didn't use any black in the book -- all the dark colors are a mixture. Going to a place gives you details that you might not ever imagine.

Q:  What are a few of your favorite museums?

A:  The Louvre in Paris. It is so amazing that I would say that I haven't accepted it mentally. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is also one of my personal favorites. I went to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston as almost a second home, having gone to art school there; we had a free pass, and I went there all the time. A folk museum in Oslo, Norway -- it had a collection of carved sleighs that brought me to my knees. These sleighs were beautiful. Another time I was moved was in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens. There were these horse sculptures discovered at the bottom of the ocean -- they were just found in the '20s. Another personal favorite is in Bad Tölz, Germany, which is where I found the cart for Berlioz the Bear.

Q:  Who would you list as your artistic influences? What about literary influences?

A:  Beatrix Potter is definitely one. Her books were some of the few books that I read and felt like I wasn't being talked down to. She put some difficult words that I never knew in her books, but in the context, I understood them. She valued the reader, and I felt like I had a new word that I learned. I loved to collect new words when I was a child, and Potter made this possible.

Q:  At what point did you realize that you wanted to illustrate and write children's books?

A:  I know that I was about six, but I don't know if it was because I was drawing all the time or because I was practicing it all the time and people kept on telling me that I should draw for children's books.... What I drew looked like it came from a children's book: With a children's book there is always a before and an after. Of course, at the time, I thought I didn't have to study, which was a big mistake. I have done a lot of traveling, which I have used to make up for a lot of lost time.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 13 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 1, 2010

    Sweet story

    Love all of Jan Brett's books no matter what. Kids love them too.
    My niece is a 1st grade school teacher and she says Jan Brett is one of her favorite authors.

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  • Posted February 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    THE HAT by Jan Brett

    A very charming and heartwarming book. "The Hat" is an engaging and humorous little story that children like to follow along with. Just the job if you're looking for a few cozy minutes before a nap.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2007


    i love it! its so funny i like when hegie wears the sock and my teacher read it to my class when my teacher read it in school she made some funny voices.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2006

    Reviewed by Mrs. Bruno's Kindergarten class

    In this story you will see Lisa getting ready for winter by taking her clothes out of the chest. She hangs them up outside on a clothesline only to find out she lost her stocking. Hedgie poked his nose inside the stocking and his prickles stuck to it! The other animals on the farm see Hedgie and start making fun of him. At the end of the story the other animals find Lisa¿s clothes and wear them as hats also! You would like this story because it has a silly ending. We like the characters and the pictures are beautiful. Read this story because it would make you happy!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2005

    The Hat

    This is a fun book to share with preschoolers. They think the illustrations are very silly! It is a great way to talk about being different.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2005

    Book Review of The Hat

    Jan, Brett. The Hat Illustrated by an anonymous artist. G.P Putman¿s Sons 1997 I.S.B.N. 0-399-23101-3 The Hat, written by Jan Brett, illustrated by an anonymous artist, and printed in 1997, will fascinate young readers of ages seven through ten. This book teaches readers that they need to think twice before making fun of somebody. In the book, a little hedgehog named Hedgie accidentally finds himself in the most peculiar situation. The other animals where he lives makes fun of Hedgie. Ironically they actually end up imitating him. This is an excellent book because it is entertaining to see how the animals want to be just like Hedgie. It is also a lesson in kindness because it shows how people and animals feel when laughed at. If you are fond of animals, you will be interested from the beginning of the book because there are animals on the cover. If you enjoy this book, you should definitely read The Mitten, also written by Jan Brett.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2002

    Beautiful illustrations!

    This book is so beautifully illustrated that every time you read it you will discover something new. Kids really love the way the story unfolds and love to read it over and over. A very simple story without violence or being too cutesy. Highly recommended for ages 2-4 and for young readers as well!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2000

    Jan Brett, Of Course

    I continue to purchase these books for my grandchildren now. They are delightful both in text and illustration-so much going on! I am Scandinavian besides so her books are a win-win!!!

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    Posted March 24, 2010

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