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The Queen’s Hat by Steve Antony

THE QUEEN’S HAT
Written and illustrated by Steve Antony
(Scholastic; $16.99, Ages 3-5)

TheQueensHatcvrThe Queen’s Hat,  is armchair travel for kids at its finest. Swish!! As the Queen sets off from Buckingham Palace (to visit a “very special” person), a gusty wind whisks the Queen’s favorite hat off her head. Followed by her beloved corgi (dressed in an argyle vest), her guard, and her tea-tray-bearing butler, the queen pursues her hat from one iconic London spot to another: Trafalgar Square, London Zoo, the London Eye, and more.

Author and illustrator Steve Antony uses the format of the picture book to great effect, creating eye popping and hilarious illustrations: the Queen’s Men squashed in like sardines on the Underground, stampeding through London Zoo accompanied by its inhabitants, and dangling from the London Eye. The spectacular two-page spread (to be held vertically) of everyone climbing to the top of Big Ben, as a precariously perched Queen stretches out for her hat, is guaranteed to elicit gasps and laughs from readers.

Finally, everyone floats down, Mary Poppins-style, umbrellas in hand, and lands at Kensington Palace. The hat gently plops down on a baby in a pram. Now can you guess who this baby might be? The Queen finishes her whirlwind outing by taking this very special baby for a sedate stroll, followed by her dog, and the butler, still trying to serve tea.

Where’s Waldo and I Spy fans will enjoy the challenge of spotting the Queen and her companions amongst the “Men,” not all of whom are so uniform: sharp-eyed children will notice subtle and humorous differences.

Antony, who has been nominated for several awards, including the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal, effectively limits his palette of colors, making the handsome reds, blacks, and blues, stand out vividly against the white space of the pages.

Visit the author’s website to find out more about his work and his other titles. Also see his suggestions for lessons and activities. And do take a look at the video below for The Queen’s Hat, animated by children at London’s Thomas Day School.

  • Reviewed by Dornel Cerro

 

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Just How Far Can a Little Girl Dream?

Ronna Mandel reviews Isabella, Girl On The Go

Let’s take a trip around the world and, best of all, no passports or visas are required. Join Isabella, a spunky young girl now starring in the second book of her series; Isabella: Girl On The Go ($16.99,  Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky, ages  4 and up) by Jennifer Fosberry with pictures by Mike Litwin.

Kids first met Isabella in My Name Is Not Isabella: Just How Big Can a Little Girl Dream?, a New York Times‘ bestseller and now Fosberry’s decided to travel the globe letting Isabella’s imagination soar across oceans and continents.  We don’t need a boat or a plane, just an imagination like Isabella’s.  Her playful spirit kicks into overdrive as she keeps her dad company in the backyard. Her sandbox and surroundings are soon the Sphinx in Egypt where she’s an archaeologist searching for “the tombs of a king.”  She leaves behind pyramids for Paris to paint a picture of the Eiffel Tower and continues her journey to take in an empire (in China) and “the longest, strongest wall.”  Take Fosberry’s super story and mix in the wonderfully whimsical artwork from Litwin and you’ve got your ticket to ride.

What I like most about Isabella is her ability to turn a garden into a glorious city like Paris or anywhere else in the world for that matter!  All it takes is a dream, a supportive parent, the comforts of home and lots, and lots of love.

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