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The Magic Hat

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About the Author

MEM FOX is the author of many acclaimed picture books, including Possum Magic, Koala Lou, and Time for Bed. She lives in Adelaide, South Australia. TRICIA TUSA has illustrated several picture books, including her own Maebelle's Suitcase; Camilla's New Hairdo, a Parents Magazine Best Book; and Bunnies in My Head, which features drawings by the young patients at the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. She lives in Houston, Texas.


This is a picture book about happiness that IS happy, with a joyous beat to the verse and amusing illustrations that will bring a smile to any face. A hat appears, `One fine day, from out of town, and without any warning at all', spiralling from the sky to land on various heads, transforming people into animals. Fortunately, everyone appears to enjoy this immensely and the hat's owner, a wizard, returns to restore order, though he leaves a very strange gift. At first glance, most Australian readers will think the illustrations are by Stephen Michael King, certainly Tusa's style bears an uncanny resemblance. There is a lot happening in each illustration that will repay repeat readers, but careful placement also gives a sense of space and clarity. Changes of pace in the verse are echoed in the illustrations with the giddy whirl of the hat depicted in panoramic festival-like detail while the coming of the giant wizard is shown in close-up. Repetition, an almost delirious silliness and a sense of fun ensure this will become a read-aloud favourite with preschoolers. Kerry White is compiling Australian Children's Books: A Bibliography Volume 3 and is a major contributor to The Source. C. 2002 Thorpe-Bowker and contributors

"Broad, lively . . . will have children demanding repeated reading and completing each verse at top volume."--Kirkus Reviews (starred review) "Charming."--The New York Times Book Review "This giddy, rhymed episode . . . . will have children demanding repeated readings and completing each verse at top volume." - Kirkus Reviews

The titular topper of this rollicking, rhyming read-aloud is indeed magic: when it blows into town one day, it plops down on the head of resident after resident, instantly transforming each person into an animal. Each time the chapeau lands, Fox (Time for Bed) reprises the refrain, "Oh, the magic hat, the magic hat! It moved like this, it moved like that! It spun through the air!" At this point the author inserts a varying line (e.g., "Like a bounding balloon"; "For a mile and a half"), and a flip of the page reveals what animal the new hat-wearer becomes (in the above instances, a baboon and a giraffe). Kids will eagerly join in the guessing game, which Tusa's (Camilla's New Hairdo) fittingly silly, bustling ink-and-watercolor illustrations whip up into high-octane action. Her clever details add to the clues; for instance, a fruit-stand seller juggles bananas as the hat transforms him into a baboon. A supporting cast of animated children witness the zany goings-on, reacting gleefully to each transformation. These characters' unbridled enjoyment will almost certainly evoke the same response from readers. Ages 3-7. (Apr.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

PreS-Gr 3-A whirling, magical hat sweeps into a bustling park, transforming each adult on whom it alights into a fun-loving animal. Rhymed verses add to the humor and allow listeners to predict what will follow as the page turns. A group of delighted children takes up the path of the hat's swirling confetti, until, at last, a large, but impish wizard appears. He restores the characters to their former selves and leaves a large, spotted egg that hatches, distracting the crowd as he turns to leave. But that's not the end. Donning the hat himself, the wizard becomes a high-spirited boy, framed by starlight, kicking up sparkles. Tusa's ink-and-watercolor images dance with life (even the flowers seem to be in motion); kinetic, double-page designs spill off the pages. Add this to your favorite headpiece storytime. Children will be bursting to participate.-Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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