FOLLOW THAT HAT!
Volume 21 Number 1
When Leon Napoleon set out on his walk, it was to be a relaxing diversion after a hard morning's work. It turned out to be quite the opposite. A gust of wind blew his beloved hat off his head and across miles of city, countryside and ocean, causing Leon to follow in hot pursuit using every and any means available.
Children are in for a unique and worthwhile visual experience as they travel with Leon in search of his hat. Award-winning illustrator Pierre Pratt (Uncle Henry's Dinner Guests) paints with a style that is distinctly different. His characters are very interesting: all have large, broad rectangular bodies and tiny heads with the same simple profile. Yet each character has something individual about him. It may be the hair, the clothes, a beard or the particular slash of the mouth. The scenery, too, is interesting. Each illustration, almost exclusively double-page spreads, shows Leon in a different locale with his elusive hat just out of reach. Every square inch is painted in bold colours offset by heavy, black outlining and shading. Uncommon angles and perspectives create illusions of speed or distance.
Leon finally gets his hands on his hat. Then, without a word of text on the last page, there is a wonderful twist to the ending. Whether it's the fault of the English adaptation or Pratt's writing, the pictures tell a better story than the words. The narrative at the beginning and at the end works well, but then distracts the reader from the main action during the chase. The narrative becomes too "clever" and too sophisticated for the younger reader. A skilful read-aloud could avoid this pitfall and, that way, everyone could enjoy the work of this talented artist.
Jane Robinson is a former teacher in Winnipeg, Manitoba
1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995
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