So this week I wanted to share one of my favorite childhood books, THE HAT, written and illustrated by the fabulous Tomi Ungerer.
The main protagonist is the hat that you see on the cover. Didn't think it would be that straightforward did you? How can an inanimate object be the protagonist of a story let alone a children's story? Well, basically if your name is Tomi Ungerer, you can do anything.
The story starts off with a hat that "lived happily on a rich man's head. One day, speeding on an open carriage, the hat blew off." So the hat floated along until it landed on a homeless, jobless, and footless veteran, Benito Badoglio. Badoglio soon finds out this hat is magical and that it is also a good deed doer! Double surprise! With the help of the hat, Badoglio saves a man from being clobbered by a falling flowerpot and finds an exotic bird and brings her back to the zoo. (I wish my hats were so magnanimous.) So with the rewards he receives he buys some fancy gentleman's clothes and replaces his peg leg with a shiny silver wheel! (I know, I love it.) So now that he's dapper and speedy he's filled to the brim with confidence and continues saving practically everyone in this entire village. He saves a band of cutthroats and policemen from each other, he saves a baby that is inside a runaway stroller that's on fire, and finally he saves a Contessa riding a carriage with a runaway horse. He was decorated by the Archduke and named the 'Minister of National Emergencies." He fell in love with the Contessa and at the end of the story they ride off on their honeymoon with the hat flying off his head blowing the hat "hither and thither… Heaven knows only where." Such a perfect ending for a fantastically bizarre story.
This book has stayed in my sweet spot since childhood because of how endearing these characters are. I mean, who wouldn't love to read a story about a magical and benevolent hat with his trusty side-kick an earnest, one-wheeled veteran?
You can actually get a used copy on Amazon or hopefully at your local used bookstore, which is what I need to do. Either that or I will steal this copy from my mom's library. (She wouldn't notice, right?)
Anyway, I would love to know what your childhood favorites are. What types of stories did you gravitate towards? Are they the same types of books that you read now. (I definitely love any books that are sprinkled with strange and unusual elements, as you probably could have guessed.)