Old Hat, Emily Gravett, Pan Macmillan, 2018
Synopsis: Harbet had a hat. His Nana had knitted it for him when he was little. Harbet likes his comfy knitted hat, but the others keep jeering at him – OLD HAT! OLD HAT! No matter what headwear he buys – be it a towering fruit platter hat, an old-boot-on-the-head hat or a brightly lit traffic cone hat, Harbet cannot keep up with the latest fashions. As soon as he gets a brand new hat it is already an . . . OLD HAT! It seems that Harbet will never fit in. But when one day he decides to go his own way, Harbet discovers just how much more fun it is to stop following others and think for yourself.
Multiple award-winning author-illustrator Emily Gravett always creates wonderful picture books and Old Hat is no exception. This is a charming, sweet, and funny tale about being yourself, not following trends, and finding your own true style.
Harbet (what a name!) does everything he can to keep up with the “in crowd” when it comes to millinery fashion, but every time he gets himself what he thinks is the latest headwear, fads change again. While this is no fun for Harbet, readers can delight in seeing all the bright, colourful, zany hats that he sources along the way. Fantastically inventive, you’ll spot headwear made out of everything from orange traffic cones or fruit, to model ships, shoes, and saucepans.
The surprise twist ending sees Harbet stop following the crowd and show his true self once and for all (I won’t spoil the ending for you, but it’s very cute!). This ending, and the book in general, demonstrates a powerful lesson to children in a non-didactic way. The story will help to prompt discussions about trying to keep up with crowds, individuality, hiding your true self, stress, anxiety, jealousy, friendship, bullying, and related themes.
As for the illustrations, yet again Gravett proves why her work is so popular around the world. Her artwork, created using pencil and watercolour paints, is bold, bright, evocative, humorous, and even a little eccentric and surreal. Her imaginative illustrations have a bit of a caricature style and seem to give a nod to Dr Seuss. Adults will be smiling along with young readers as they take in each amazing hat creation.
This whimsical yet meaningful picture book is sure to delight readers and have them keen to pore over the pages multiple time to really take in all the elements Gravett’s illustrations provide – they are quite a feast for the eyes. I can see kids rushing off to start putting together their own headwear creations, too.
Old Hat is suited to readers aged around four years and up.
Please note: a complimentary copy of the book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.