Hold On To Your Hat, Rene! Magritte's Marvelous Hat by D. B. Johnson
ONE BRIGHT DAY IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT, THE PAINTER MAGRITTE SAW A MARVELOUS HAT IN A STORE WINDOW.
WHEN HE TRIED IT ON, THE HAT POPPED UP AND FLOATED JUST ABOVE HIS HEAD.
MAGRITTE LIKED THE WAY THE HAT DID NOT PINCH HIS EARS OR MUSS HIS HAIR.
HE HURRIED UP TO HIS ROOM.... FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME, PAINTING WAS EASY.... MAGRITTE PAINTED HIS BEST PICTURE YET.
Life with a magical levitating Derby hat is exhilarating and inspiring for the Belgian artist. His paintings become even more magically surreal, and when he goes out for his daily constitutional, the hat loves to play hide-and-seek with him.
Life is good, and Magritte is excited with the products of his painting. But he becomes so meticulous that one day he scolds his hat for being too playful:
"HAT," SAID MAGRITTE. "I CAN'T PAINT WHEN YOU'RE BOUNCING. JUST BE A HAT AND SIT ON MY HEAD."
But the hat has a mind of its own, and it is offended by being asked to abandon its magical ways. It floats out the window, leaving Magritte with paint splashed on his face as his beloved painting un-paints itself before his eyes.
"I CAN'T PAINT WITHOUT MY HAT!" MAGRITTE CRIED.
Without the playful creativity the magical hat engenders, Magritte can't do any work, and he realizes that all work and no play makes a painter a dull plodder. Somehow he must find that imaginative hat and trick it into following him back to his studio. And the rest is art history.
At least it is in D. B. Johnson's definitely off-beat Magritte's Marvelous Hat (Houghton Mifflin, 2012), in which the celebrated Brown extends the art of the picture book with in his forthcoming work. Making deft use of see-through overlay page techniques to tell this story of the surrealist's haberdasherial muse represented by the free-floating and capricious bowler, D. B Johnson, creator of the notable Henry Hikes to Fitchburg, engages in joyful "picture-play" in his latest. "Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see," said Rene Magritte, and in his hide-and-seek hunt for his inspirational hat, D.B. Johnson's hero gets to take advantage of his "now you see it, now you don't" headgear amongst many sly visual illusionary allusions to the surrealist's own creations, providing plenty of fun pages for youngsters and surreal art fanciers alike to pore over. An appended "Author's Note" deftly brings readers up to speed on the work of his hero, Rene Magritte.
"Arty, amusing and exceedingly clever," quips Kirkus