Illustrated fiction for young readers is probably the biggest marvel of modern publishing. Longer fully illustrated novels designed specifically to bridge the gap between picture books and more in depth reads, so the jump to chapter books isn’t quite so overwhelming for children venturing into the reading world. They’re also perfect bedtime reads! This is why I recommend SO many of them to children and parents in the library. Well I tell you what, we have a new one in the mix and it will make the very top of my recommend pile. It is The Hat Full of Secrets, written by Karl Newson, illustrated by Wazza Pink and published by Little Tiger Press.
Ever heard the term “Keep it under your hat?” When referring to secrets, we always say this rather funny saying, and it is the basis of this wonderful book. Henry has a big secret and he’s bursting with it!! He seeks out his Grandad for advice, and he tells Henry sagely to keep the secret under his hat. But Henry doesn’t have a hat!! Luckily Grandad has a spare, and he lets Henry borrow it. It turns out Grandad has a few secrets of his own and they escape from his hat! Thus ensures a gorgeous tale of multiple mini stories celebrating the magic of memories, imagination and of course, family.
This is such a special little book. Compact and perfectly formed, it has been produced with quality in mind making it an ideal gift book and certainly a keeper for your bookshelves. With a thick textured hardback, and bright, full colour glossy pages it’s absolutely wonderful. I rarely mention the quality of the physical book, but when it stands out as much as this it’s important to really focus on it, because I can assure you hand on heart you will be thrilled to receive this little treasure.
But what of the insides? Well I can assure you it matches up! This is such a charming story, it’s funny, full of fantasy elements yet grounded and relatable! Karl has got the voices spot on, from the excitable innocence of young Henry, to the wise, yet slightly eccentric and unexpected Grandad! It is such a pleasure to read. There is so much joy and loveliness to the story. It’s written with a deliberate simplicity to ensure an achievable read for young children, but there’s so much entertainment to the story that it completely avoids any risk of being boring. It’s anything but. Children will be kept engaged throughout, and I think that’s down to the lovely characterisation and the way the story is broken down into each secret of Grandad’s.
Wazza Pink’s illustrations explode from the very first page! With a real emphasis put on nature and the outdoors throughout, the bright bold colours, textures and expressions all come together to make something really quite incredible. It’s just so beautiful to look at and every picture works in harmony with Karl’s wonderful words, emphasising the lovely relationship between Henry and his Grandad.
These kinds of books are where children really start to enjoy stories for themselves, and this is just an exceptional example. It’s warm and lovely, the epitome of curling up with a good book friend. There are giggles to be had fun and magic, but also a story that reminds us to appreciate and talk to our family and share our secrets. This little perfectly formed illustrated book is just one, great, big smile!
Podcast & Giveaway!
I chatted to the wonderful Karl Newson about his books, including this one on The Sheffield Libraries Podcast, and you can even listen to him reading a little snippet! https://anchor.fm/sheffield-libraries
We have 5 copies of The Book of Hats to give away at Sheffield Libraries curtesy of local Book Shop Rhyme and Reason. Listen to the end of the podcast and you can find out how to enter!
The Hat Full of Secrets is available now from all good bookshops and libraries. If you would like to support an independent shop, you can purchase a copy from my affiliate shop Bear Hunt Books via the link below:
(I receive a small amount for every book purchase which I use towards purchasing more books from them to share with you.)
Thank you for reading this not-so-secretive Book Monster review!