Magritte’s Marvelous Hat by D. B. Johnson. Ages 2+ (Publisher says 4+, but it was fine for my 2+.) Houghton Mifflin Books for Children. April 2012. 32 pages. ISBN: 978-0547558646. $16.99.
The Short: This book introduces people to Magritte’s works in an accessible way by telling a fictional story about a dog named Magritte. One day Magritte sees a hat and buys it. The amazing hat floats on his head and helps him create his best paintings. One day his hat flies away and he has to look for it. The hat comes back and all ends well. Which is all really great, but the illustrations are the amazing part of this book. This is a book my son enjoys looking through by himself or with me reading it. My son and I both love this book and we highly recommend it.
The Long: Done in the style of the artist Magritte — each image is surreal and subtle thus coaxing the reader to take an extra moment to notice what is surreal about each picture. Four of the pictures are acetate overlays that cleverly change the pictures as you turn the acetate. My two-year-old son loves this book. He’s had me read it to him many, many, many times. He loves the images and almost has the book memorized. If I read part of a sentence, he can finish it. This books prompts numerous, “What’s that?” questions and definitely challenges me as I attempt to explain what the images are. Unlike a lot of picture books which you just read from front to back, this book is a lot of fun to look through in any order. The acetate overlays seem to beg you to flip them back and forth several times to see how the image changes.
There’s nothing to edit or change when reading this to my two-year-old son. There’s a little conflict with the hat flying away, but it is very, very minor. I think everyone can easily enjoy this book from 2 to 122. It’s a fun introduction to surrealism for children that is neither condescending or pretentious.
When my son was a baby, I purchased the book, Magritte’s Imagination for him. We will still often read this book together. I enjoy reading Magritte’s Marvelous Hat and then read Magritte’s Imagination after.
It’s very interesting that there are at least two children’s books about Magritte, because Magritte isn’t exactly the most child-friendly artist. Some of his paintings are appropriate and a lot of fun for all ages, but a lot of his stuff is very disturbing at any age. While this book is fantastic for all children, some of Magritte’s original paintings are better for adults. So, I wouldn’t run out and buy a bunch of art books about Magritte and give them to my two-year-old unsupervised; yet, I’ll happily read this book to my son over and over again.
D. B. Johnson has written a wonderful book with a great story line and amazing illustrations. I was happy to see that he’s written quite a few books and I look forward to checking out his other titles.
Where Obtained: Public Library. Random pick up off the shelf.
FTC Disclosures: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” If you click on the link and purchase the book, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Author’s Website: http://www.henryhikes.com/
Some of My Favorite Reviews of this Book:
- http://36pages.com/magritte%E2%80%99s-marvelous-hat/ (Includes an interview with D. B. Johnson by Craig Frazier)
- http://www.wired.com/geekdad/2012/04/magrittes-marvelous-hat-surrealism-for-kids/ (Includes a book trailer)
- http://tulsabookreview.com/2012/05/magrittes-marvelous-hat/ (Reviewed by Murphy, age 6)
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This looks like a fabulous book! I can’t wait to go find this one! Thanks for sharing!
My pleasure! I hope you and especially Rhythm enjoy! 🙂
Thanks for a great review of this book! You’ve sold me on it! We’re going to get it from the library!
I love this book! I have moved out of the children’s department at work and so miss all the great picture books that come through.