The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins

Book review by
Robyn Raymer, Common Sense Media
The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins Book Poster Image
Polite boy gets in trouble in funny early Seuss book.

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Kids say

age 2+
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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Funny story meant to entertain. Introduces readers to Seuss, witty language, and a medieval setting. 

Positive Messages

Be polite, even if it gets you in trouble. Abide by the law -- it just might save you in the end. Believe in your innocence when you now you've done nothing wrong. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Bartholomew is polite and helpful throughout his ordeal, and his self-confidence never seems to fail him. Others persecute Bartholomew for something he cannot control. Grand Duke Wilfred is mean and bossy. The executioner finds a way to save Bartholomew by respecting the law. 

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. He's threatened with beheading, and there's a plot to push him from a castle tower. The king spanks his nephew. 


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this is book by Dr. Seuss 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.

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Kid, 0 years old October 27, 2009

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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?

This is a delightful, funny early Seuss book written in unrhymed prose and illustrated with witty cartoons, and it mkes a great 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).  

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Bartholomew's plight in The 500 Hats of Batholomew Cubbins. Have you ever been blamed for something that wasn't your fault? How did you handle it? 

  • How do you think Bartholomew's situation might have turned out if he had been less gracious and polite?

  • What other Dr. Seuss Books have your read? How does this one compare? 

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love Dr. Seuss and fairy tales

Themes & Topics

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