BooksForKidsBlog

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

We've Got to Stop Meeting Like This! The Red Hat by David Teague

BILLY HIGHTOWER LIVES ATOP THE WORLD'S TALLEST BUILDING.

IT WAS THE WIND AND BILLY HIGHTOWER . . . UNTIL ONE DAY A LADDER APPEARED, FOLLOWED BY MEN IN HARD HATS AND THEN...

A GIRL. SHE WORE A RED HAT.

Life at the top is hard. Well... lonely. And when the appropriately named Billy Hightower spots the girl in the red hat, he is determined to catch her eye.

He shouts his hello, but the whirling wind around their skyscrapers carry his words away as if they were whispers.

Billy crafts a carefully composed note:

Hi,
My name is Billy Hightower. I like your hat.

He sends his message to her on the wings of a paper airplane, but the wind takes it off before it reaches her. He attaches it to a red kite and sends it sailing across the distance between the two towers,  but the wind snatches it away just as the girl reaches for it, losing her own red hat to the wind as well. Desperately, Billy grabs a red blanket and holding onto the corners, tries to parasail to the top of the girl's building.

THE WIND RAGED. IT BLEW ACROSS THE BOULEVARD, TRYING TO DRIVE HIM BACK.

Billy soars even higher with the wind, tantalizingly past the girl's outstretched arms. Then the wind changes and he spirals down to the ground, finding himself on the sidewalk in front of a building named The Crimson Towers. Billy almost gives up his mission, until he spots the red hat caught on a shrub near the entrance.

It is just the lead that Billy needs, in David Teague's new The Red Hat (Hyperion Books, 2015), and he carefully retrieves the red hat and runs into the building, heading for the top floor. where he and his mystery girl meet face to face at last.

This is a strange story of two wind-crossed friends, with an unusual talisman, a red hat, and a attraction between the two represented visually by the color red. Artist Antoinette Portis makes the most of this color motif, illustrating the story primarily in thick blackline, white, pale gray, and the blue of the sky, with contrasting accents of red in Billy's paper airplane, kite, and blanket, the door of the girl's apartment, and, of course, the hat. The quixotic wind is shown vividly in silvery swirls, lovely, yet malevolent, echoed, too, by the whirling sweep of the text across the page, but finally foiled at last with the help of the the iconic hat. Although the boy and girl portrayed seem too young to be seen as sweethearts, a Romeo and Juliet separated by two different worlds, the final page of the book does leave us with two words....

THE BEGINNING....

Of this non-hearts-and-flowers, perhaps Valentine story, School Library Journal says, "This dynamic, gorgeously rendered glimpse into the fledgling bond between two people demonstrates the power of persistence."

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