Although we read many books together (many, many, many books), each week I select one book that is going to be a bit of a ‘work’ book. Sounds dull doesn’t it? What I mean by that is there is one story that we read every day and then we talk about it, recreate, draw pictures of it and generally get to know the story really well.
On the recommendation of the lovely Cheyrl who is my guru on all things homeschooling, Waldorf and life in general (and can be found at her excellent homeschooling blog Finding Fairy Doors), I checked out a Jan Brett book from the library. This one is called The Hat and fits in very nicely with our winter theme. We’ve read it each day this week (except for Friday when we were out hiking) and it has been a pleasure each time.
This is a traditional style of story telling that is just right for Huwyl’s age. The story follows Lisa and Hedgie through a winter’s day; Lisa hangs out her woolens to air, but a sock becomes stuck on Hedgie!
Poor Hedgie! Now he must go around the farm and speak with all the other animals with an embarrassing sock on his head…calamity. But he decides to persuade them all that he has chosen to wear the sock as a hat and so they decide to do the same!
I found myself as delighted as Huwyl at the sight of the animals all wearing a different item of clothing. Poor Lisa! This book is so beautifully written and illustrated that it yields new treasures on each read. There were elements I didn’t notice on the first read that I did on the second and third. At the edge of each page there are small cameos that tell the reader which character will be on the next page; something of a visual treasure hunt!
The quality of the drawings is really astonishing, a feast for eyes indeed. There are fun visual games too such as the washing line at the top of the page that loses an item of clothing each time culminating in the animal fashion parade at the end of the story.
The repeat phrasing helps make the story predictable for the young child, allowing them to become involved in the telling very quickly. The richness of the imagery, layered with details from the traditional Danish town on which this book is based, will keep the adult story teller fascinated by Brett’s amazing artistry. Frankly I was covetous of Lisa’s traditional woolens and wouldn’t mind adding them to my own collection!
I will definitely be seeking out more of Jan Brett’s books and checking out her website too. If you are looking for wonderful books for young children, or even some gentle fare for early readers, you can’t go wrong with The Hat. I’m sure too that if you decided to purchase this book it would be one you would return to again and again.