Old hat by Emily Gravett

cover image Two Hoots Books (Macmillan), 2018. ISBN 9781447274001
(Ages: 4+) Highly recommended. Themes: Hats, Appearance, Confidence, Fashion. Harbet had a hat that he loved. It was knitted for him by his grandmother and he always wore it. That is until his friends laughed, telling him it was an old hat. He set about to find a new hat, one like the ones his friends were wearing. He bought on and paraded it. It had all the features necessary for a new hat: but it became rather bedraggled and old. His friends by then had changed their old hats for the new look, and laughed at Harbet in his old hat. He went out and bought a new one. But still they laughed. He camped outside the hat shop making sure that he was first in line for the latest hat in fashion, but still he was laughed at.
By now readers will have understood what the book is about and sympathise with Harbet on his quest to be 'with it' and fashionable. They will laugh out loud at the pile of hats that he has tried without success.
And the ending will make them laugh out loud even more, as Harbet reveals why he wears a hat in the first place, now setting a trend that his friends cannot follow. The simple lesson of being yourself, will not be lost on the readers as they will come across examples every day of peers trying to conform with the latest fashion, be it in clothing, the latest phone or film, language, car or holiday.
And the expression 'old hat' could be a useful lesson in sayings and idioms for a class.
I love the illustrations depicting Harbet's whimsical look as he tries to please his friends, not himself, or the references to hats in the pages, or the different hats shown. Each page has a different image to pore over. I love the references to Grandma's hat on several pages, the endpapers showing an array of hats and the last page which uses the story to promote another of Gravett's books.
Fran Knight