Happy Birthday, Madame Chapeau by Andrea Beaty

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Happy Birthday, Madame Chapeau
written by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts

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Like a delicious French pastry, Happy Birthday, Madame Chapeau (Abrams Books for Young Readers; 2014, $16.95, Ages 4-8) is a treat not only to behold, but to be enjoyed frequently perhaps with some steaming hot cocoa. After what may be my fourth or fifth reading I can still say I’m on my Happy Birthday, Madame Chapeau honeymoon and continue to find wonderful things to devour on every page.

Observant readers will pick up clues that hat maker extraordinaire, Madame Chapeau is either a war widow, her soldier husband, or maybe her father, having fallen in combat; his hat on a kitchen chair as a sad reminder. Alone and lonely, even on that one night a year, her birthday, Madame Chapeau dresses up, resplendent in her birthday bonnet and takes a stroll to Chez Snooty-Patoot, “the best place in town.” But when she tumbles en route, a crow grabs her headpiece and flies off.

“My hat! My hat! Come back with my hat!
You simply can’t steal someone’s bonnet like that!
Someone quite special once made that for me.
You can’t steal my hat and fly off to a tree!”

Before she can say “baguette,” a baker offers her his trademark tall white hat and so begins the parade of people willing to help out with a loaner. From a policeman to a cowboy, to a Scotsman and a spy, to Charlie Chaplin – we all know his hat as we do the mime’s – total strangers yet lovely souls are being so very kind. I’m delighted, too, that both Beaty and Roberts chose to include such a diverse depiction of Parisians as it’s one of the most multi-cultural cities I know.

Without her special hat, but a birthday cake that’s been paid for, Madame makes her way to Chez Snooty-Patoot to dine alone or so she thinks! Meanwhile, an adorable young black girl whose mother was getting a fitting in Madame Chapeau’s earlier on in the story, is tailing the hat maker, yarn and needles in hand. (At one point we even see a mouse donning a cap matching the girl’s outfit!) NOTE: watch out for this mouse and his hats, as well as the dog and cat belonging to Madame.

“Excuse me, madame,” said a girl dressed in plaid.
“I made you a gift from some yarn that I had.
I made it myself, and I just want to say,
I hope you enjoy it … and Happy Birthday!”

This original new picture book, told in flawless, flowing rhyme is filled to the brim with exquisite, finely detailed watercolor and ink illustrations. Whether read-aloud or to oneself, Happy Birthday, Madame Chapeau, is like having a front row seat at Paris Fashion Week (paying homage to many designers) without the expensive price tag that goes along with it.

Click here to download a Happy Birthday, Madame Chapeau hat activity sheet.

TWITTER GIVEAWAY!

NOTE: Author Andrea Beatty added some cool info in the comment section which I’m paraphrasing here:

Beaty and Roberts show up in the restaurant. (She has a pen and is wearing Rosie Revere’s cheese hat. Roberts has a paint brush. Plus Iggy Peck’s parents make a cameo, too! All of the hats in the book are based on real hats. Some are David Roberts’ actual millinery designs.)

Click here for a link that shows some of the inspiration Roberts drew upon for his illustrations!

There’s a terrific twitter contest going right now to win 1 of 4 copies of the book. To enter, simply tweet a pic of yourself wearing a hat. #HappyBirthdayMadameChapeau. Winners will be announced on November 1!

– Reviewed by Ronna Mandel


Hermelin, the Detective Mouse by Mini Grey

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Hermelin, the Detective Mouse by Mini Grey (Alfred A. Knopf, 2014 $17.99; ages 5-8) is reviewed by Rita Zobayan.

⭐︎Starred Reviews – Kirkus Reviews, The Horn Book & Booklist

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Hermelin, the Detective Mouse as told to Mini Grey makes me ache for my childhood days in London. With pictures of terraced houses and characters named Lady Chumley-Plumley and Captain Potts, the book transports the reader across the pond and squarely to England.

The cover of this picture book caught my eye straight away with its image of an old-fashioned typewriter with Hermelin standing boldly atop with flag staff in paw. The illustrations are full of fun-to-spot details, such as candy wrappers, book covers, creatively placed paper clips, and cereal boxes. The variously placed text engages the reader by drawing the eye across the page, up and down, and to newspaper articles, encyclopedia entries, notes, and messages. This picture book has a lot going on in both the visuals and the story.

The residents of Offley Street need a detective! Various items, including a teddy bear, reading glasses, goldfish, and diamond bracelet, have mysteriously vanished. The good folks are at a loss. Who can help them? Help comes in an unexpectedly small package: a mouse in a cheese box. Hermelin (named after the Czech cheese) makes himself right at home in the attic of number 33, where he finds an old-fashioned typewriter. As he locates each of the missing items, Hermelin uses the typewriter to communicate with the residents.

Dear Dr. Parker,

You will find your reading glasses in chapter 26 of Medical Monthly (infectious diseases) which is at the bottom of your bathtub. I’m afraid it may be a bit soggy by now.

                  Yours sincerely,

                  Hermelin

The grateful residents want to thank the elusive detective, so they invite Hermelin to a “thank-you party in your honor … Everybody wants to meet you!” But a detective mouse is not what they expect and havoc ensues. Will Hermelin be recognized as more than just an “unclean, unhygienic, unwanted” pest? Your child will enjoy this book to the end!

– Reviewed by Rita Zobayan


Give Out Comics Not Candy on Halloween – Free Comics Oct. 25 on Halloween ComicFest

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Celebrate All Hallows’ Eve With Comics:
Get free comic books & purchase mini-comics
to hand out instead of candy.HCF14 Poly bag Comics_group

In homes across America, families are preparing for Halloween. Many are looking for a candy substitute, something to offer as a treat. Is there something sugar-free that will still bring a smile to kids’ faces? Consider this great idea – comic books!

HalloweenComicFes400x400Take note parents! On Saturday, October 25th, participating comic book shops will be handing out FREE comics to anyone who comes to their stores in celebration of Halloween ComicFest in addition to hosting special Halloween activities in communities across the US, Canada and internationally. There are 19 free comics available to choose from that are great for readers of all ages with titles that include, Scooby Doo and Batman Team Up, Marvel Secret Wars, My Little Pony, Afterlife with Archie, Angry Birds, Plants vs. Zombies, and more!

Also, it’s a great time to consider giving out comics instead of candy. So, while getting your free comics, pick up Halloween ComicFest Mini-Comic Packs because they’re “just as sweet and last a lot longer than candy!”

Each pack contains 20 mini-comics and are only available to purchase at comic book shops for just $4.99 per pack. Such a delicious deal that won’t get stuck in your teeth! There are seven titles to choose from which include Angry Birds, Betty and Veronica, Plants vs. Zombies, BOOM! Studios Fright Fest, LBX Little Battlers, Mermin and Vamplets. The Mini-Comic packs are a healthy alternative to candy, promote literacy, provide entertainment for families to enjoy, can be used as prizes for Halloween games or prizes used in the classroom.

Click here to find participating comic shops in your community.

MiniComicPacks“Our BOOM! Studios Halloween Fright Fest mini-comic, featuring stories from Adventure Time, Peanuts, and Fraggle Rock, is sooooo sweet that you don’t need to eat any candy! Plus, you won’t get any cavities from reading it either. Because it’s comics!” – BOOM! Studios publisher.

“The LBX Halloween Comic-Fest sampler is better than candy because super-strong cardboard robots that battle each other on command are pretty much better than anything, right? And this new manga series is actually about super-strong cardboard robots who battle each other on command!

Kids will love LBX because it’s about kids who do tournament battles with super-strong cardboard robots that battle each other on command (which is, of course, better than candy…or most anything). It’s a kid-safe comic starring an actual kid trying to save the world with his paper robot. What’s not to love, really.

Handing out the LBX mini-comic will make even the dullest, apple-giving, toothbrush house the most popular because you can win anyone over with manga, even the most super-strong cardboard robot-hating neighbor kid. Only, since there aren’t any kids who hate super-strong cardboard robots (especially if they can battle each other on command), you don’t have to worry about that. Can’t help you with the toothbrushes, though.” – Joel Enos, editor of the Little Battlers comic from VIZ Media.

www.freecomicbookday.com
www.halloweencomicfest.com