Friday, May 30, 2014

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends: Hooray for Hat! by Brian Won



Elephant awakes in a deep funk! His own private cloud of gloom hangs over his head as he sits up in bed.

Even a cheery ding-dong from the doorbell doesn't break his mood as he stomps down to the door.

But there's no one there. What is there is a large box with a perky red ribbon. Who could resist looking inside?

Inside the box is a hat wearing a hat wearing a hat, wearing a hat.... A hat unlike any other hat!


This quintuple-decker topper has a top hat (complete with cup holder and cuckoo clock), crowned with a kingly crown, topped with a red mortarboard (with its own red-and-white striped awning), under a wide-brimmed red-white-and blue sun hat with feather, set off with a party hat with tassel on top.

Nobody could be grumpy wearing such a hat, and Elephant smiles broadly as he dons his mystery gift and sets off to show it off to his friends.

But it must be blue Monday in the forest. Friend Zebra is in a definitely down mood. In fact, he is GRUMPY! But Elephant is too upbeat to let Zebra get him down. He reaches up with his trunk for the party hat and sets it jauntily on Zebra's head. Zebra doffs his blues and the two share smiles.

It's off to share their fun with their friends, but as in turn they find Turtle withdrawn into his shell, Owl moping in his dark hole in his tree, and Lion depressed inside his den.

There's nothing for it but for Elephant to share his wonderful hats with all his friends. Turtle gets the sun hat, Owl appropriately gets the mortarboard, and of course Lion gets the crown.  Only Lion does not smile:


Giraffe is definitely down in the mouth, with his gloomy face buried in the foliage of a tree.

And, alas! Elephant is out of hats. What to do?

The conclusion of Brian Won's mood-altering Hooray for Hat! (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014) is a happy and heartwarming heads-up for the power of friendship, as all the friends doff their hats and repack them into the gift box for Giraffe. Who could remain melancholy wearing that stack of hats? Not Giraffe, and it's a big shout-out for hats and friends in this winning new picture book.

With a simple textual refrain which will strike a chord with kids and gloriously simple but evocative digital illustrations done in a dynamic pastel palette, not to mention the vertical double-page spreads which depict Elephant and Giraffe modeling  their multi-layered chapeau, this brief story celebrates the power of the gift of mood-altering friendship. Hats off to Brian Won!

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