The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins

Common Sense Media says

A delightful, funny early Seuss effort.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
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17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Others persecute Bartholomew for something he cannot control. The king spanks his nephew.

Violence & scariness

Bartholomew's hats are shot from his head with arrows. Bartholomew is imprisoned and subjected to a scary experiences, and repeatedly comes close to death. Bartholomew is threatened with beheading, and there's a plot to push him from a castle tower.

Language
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is an entrancing read-aloud. Bartholomew faces perils cheerfully, correctly assuming that his own blamelessness will carry him through -- he models good sense, optimism, and self-esteem. Beautiful prose, funny dialogue, and expressive illustrations may inspire kids to write their own tales or dramatize this one.

Parents say

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Kids say

What's the story?

When King Derwin's carriage rolls into town, Bartholomew Cubbins respectfully removes his hat along with everyone else. But another hat appears upon the boy's head -- and another, and another, and another. Furious, King Derwin orders Bartholomew to be brought to the palace. Various royal experts try in vain to get rid of the boy's bewitched headgear, and when Bartholomew receives a death sentence, the friendly executioner explains that it's unlawful to behead people with their hats on.

The king's nasty young nephew offers to push Bartholomew from the highest turret, and on the way upstairs the hats -- which Bartholomew keeps removing -- grow fancier and fancier. Derwin is so entranced by hat 500, a plumed, bejeweled dazzler, that he pardons Bartholomew, spanks his nephew, and buys the hat for 500 gold pieces. Once the king lifts his purchase from Bartholomew's head, the boy is relieved to feel breezes ruffling his hair.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

This is a delightful, funny early Seuss effort written in unrhymed prose and illustrated with witty cartoons, and it's a satisfying read-aloud. The beautifully crafted prose rolls off the tongue, and there's a whole range of funny minor characters. Bartholomew is polite and helpful throughout his ordeal, and his self-confidence never seems to fail him. "The king can do nothing dreadful to punish me," he reasons, "because I really haven't done anything wrong."

This is best read one-on-one so listeners can ask questions, count hats, and peruse the lovingly drawn cartoons (black and white, with red reserved for Bartholomew's hats). Perhaps due to the fact that not everyone could see the pictures well, a second-grade reading audience had trouble focusing. They were unanimous, however, in their dislike of mean, bossy Grand Duke Wilfred: "I'd push him off that tower!"

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Bartholomew's plight. Have you ever been blamed for something that wasn't your fault? How did you handle it? Were you, like Bartholomew, absolved in the end? How do you think Bartholomew's situation might have turned out if he had been less gracious and polite?

Book details

Author:Dr. Seuss
Illustrator:Dr. Seuss
Genre:Picture Book
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Random House
Publication date:September 1, 1938
Number of pages:48
Publisher's recommended age(s):4 - 7

This review of The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

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Kid, 0 years old July 20, 2009
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