The Magic Hat Shop

Book review by
Jan Carr, Common Sense Media
The Magic Hat Shop Book Poster Image
Sweet, whimsical tale of magic hats transforming town.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Some new or elevated vocabulary: "derby," "hatter," "making great efforts," "hunched," "never spared a thought," "inhabitants."

Positive Messages

We can "become the people we really want to be." Sometimes when we're ready to change, we get a "magical" assist, but we don't need magic to stay our best selves. Shy people can become brave. Sad people can become happy. Mean people can become thoughtful. Boastful people can become humble.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The magical hat maker listens to people, then crafts hats helping them change for the better. Shy boy turns confident, sad girl turns happy, mean guy turns thoughtful and kind, puffed-up official turns humble and willing to share power. Townspeople realize they don't need magic hats to hang onto their new personalities.

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Magic Hat Shop by Sonja Wimmer is a book imported from Europe with charming illustrations and a fairy tale feel. The simple story about a magic hat shop suddenly appearing in a town and transforming the lives of its people has a message about becoming your best self. There's whimsy in the magic hats that "brought out the most surprising features in the people who wore them, and made all their problems vanish into thin air"; and there's whimsy in the illustrations, which are themselves magical. This book by a Madrid publisher is also available in Spanish.

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What's the story?

In THE MAGIC HAT SHOP, when a hat shop magically appears in the center of the town square, the townspeople turn up their noses -- except for Timid Tim, who emerges not only with a hat but also a new, confident attitude. This inspires the rest of the townspeople to visit the shop, and they come out with hats and more. Sad Sally learns to laugh. Mean Morris invites people over for tea. And even the boastful mayor emerges a changed, humble man. But then a terrible storm sweeps through the town, blowing away all the hats and the shop itself. What will the townspeople do? When they realize they no longer need the magic hats to "become the people we really want to be," they sing and dance through the streets.

Is it any good?

Eye-catching illustrations distinguish this book, providing visual magic to this story that's about magic. The Magic Hat Shop, from a Spanish publisher, has a bit of a foreign feel. The text can sometimes seem translated; for instance, Timid Tim "always seemed to be making great efforts to go unnoticed," though the slightly formal language is suited to the style of a magical fairy tale. The message -- "We don’t need magic hats to become the people we want to be!" -- might be hit a bit more squarely on the head than American audiences are used to. But there's also a sweet whimsy in the text -- for instance, when the townspeople keep their hats on even "when they kissed."

The truly magical element of this story is the fanciful illustrations, which immediately catch interest. The opening spread shows Timid Tim, whom we haven’t yet met, sitting atop an oversized hat overlooking the town, and other gigantic hats support a windmill and a train racing around a hat rim. From the start, we know we’re in good, artistic hands, and the open-ended, spine-tingling conclusion is satisfying indeed.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the hats in The Magic Hat Shop. Though the story doesn't tell us how the hats look magical, what magical elements can you see in the illustrations?

  • If you were to get a magic hat, how do you think it might change you?

  • Why do you think the hat shop blew away, and where do you think it might appear next?

Book details

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For kids who love fairy tales and books about magic

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