Brimsby is a happy hat maker--until his best friend goes off to find adventure at sea. Now Brimsby is a lonely hat maker, unsure of what to do. Read more...
Brimsby is a happy hat maker--until his best friend goes off to find adventure at sea. Now Brimsby is a lonely hat maker, unsure of what to do. But since making hats is what he does best, perhaps his talents can help him find some friends...
Filled with whimsy and wonder, Brimsby's Hats is a celebration of creativity and friendship.
- ISBN-13: 9781442481473
- ISBN-10: 1442481471
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
- Publish Date: December 2013
- Page Count: 40
- Reading Level: Ages 4-8
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2013-11-25
- Reviewer: Staff
Bereft when his best friend takes off for a new life as a sea captain, Brimsby—a small, fuzzy, button-nosed creature who makes hats—seeks new companions. One winter afternoon he finds some birds working feverishly, “shoveling the snow out of their nests and keeping the cold wind from blowing out their fires.” Brimsby realizes that his hats might serve as shelters for them, and his thoughtfulness earns him a treeful of new friends: “They talked about hats. They talked about snow shovels. They talked about whether lemon cookies taste better than worms.” Newcomer Prahin’s exceptionally polished digital spreads look like stills from an animated feature. Muted, offbeat shades of gray-blue, mauve, and lime echo Brimsby’s quirky personality. There’s no dialogue—Prahin narrates the whole story comfortingly in the third person, softening Brimsby’s feelings of loss—and much of the humor appears in the stylish spreads. In one, a bison tries on a comically small hat; in another, Brimsby and his friend fantasize in pictorial dialogue balloons about fighting a pirate octopus. A promising first outing for Prahin. Ages 4–8. Agent: Paul Rodeen, Rodeen Literary Management. (Jan.)
When new friends are needed
Brimsby is a hat maker. He lives in a tiny cottage in the country, and his best friend, a badger, visits daily to chat over delicious hot tea. When his bestie leaves to become a sea captain, Brimsby is lonely and sets out to make some new friends. Birds high up in a tree are too busy keeping warm to pay him any mind. When Brimsby returns with hats for each, large enough to cover their nests and keep out the wind and snow, he makes more than enough new friends in one fell swoop.
One of many things debut author-illustrator Andrew Prahin does so well here is regulate the careful and generous pacing of this story. Never rushing, he gives readers just enough time to believe in the friendship of Brimsby and his friend, and he devotes two spreads to Brimsby’s subsequent loneliness. We feel Brimsby’s loss. In one spread, we see four seasons go by in 12 small vignettes, as Brimsby sews by the window where his friend once sat with him. Prahin also uses white space to great effect. In several illustrations, we see copious white for the abundant snow, as heavy-hearted Brimsby trudges forward to make someone’s acquaintance. It’s moving and possesses a poignant restraint.
The color palette of Prahin’s digitally created art is also smart, as he replaces the warmer colors of his best friend with the cooler, more muted colors of sadness and heavy winter. When Brimsby strikes up a friendship with the birds, glowing pinks are introduced. And when they all head out to visit the sea captain at the book’s close—new friendships never cancel out the old ones, after all—we see vivid greens, as everyone sits by the shore in summer, having tea as a group.
Brimsby’s Hats is a very promising debut and a touching story of friendship from a storyteller I hope we hear from again.
Julie Danielson features authors and illustrators at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, a children's literature blog primarily focused on illustration and picture books.