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Magritte's Marvelous Hat Hardcover – April 17, 2012


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 620L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (April 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547558643
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547558646
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 10 x 11.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #282,737 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Belgian painter René Magritte, cast here as a dog, sees in a shop window a “marvelous hat” that appears to float above his head. He buys the hat, and it floats above his head wherever he goes. The two play games, traipsing in and around the streets of Paris, and the hat proves to be substantial artistic inspiration as well. Rather than trying to explain the surreal, Johnson captures its essence, blurring the line between perception and imagination. As Magritte and his hat have their fun, we see and experience the city through the painter’s originative eyes. Johnson’s crisp, polished illustrations, filled with nods to the artist’s iconic imagery, celebrate Magritte’s clear, almost upbeat absurdity. Four acetate inserts, printed on both sides to transfigure the pages before and after, enhance the curious sense of wonder. This jovial, peculiar outing is both an accessible introduction to the painter and a winning, nonsensical adventure in its own right. An author’s note offers more information about Magritte, his work, and the surrealist movement. Preschool-Grade 3. --Thom Barthelmess

Review

"A visual tour de force...Arty, amusing and exceedingly cleve."--Kirkus "Beckoning, buoyant...brilliant."--School Library Journal, starred review "Unexpected design elements, notably reversible images printed on transparent pages, surprise readers with clever illusions and artistic allusions...Rather than magnify surrealism's sinister edge, Johnson focuses on its energy and borrows that exuberance for his own see-through pages."--Publishers Weekly, starred review

More About the Author

D.B. Johnson, one reviewer has written, "has brought down the curtain on the static picture book for children. With the recent publication of his Mother Nature Rhymes (iPad only for now), [Johnson] has singlehandedly transformed the picture book into a dynamic event. From now on, if it isn't interactive and doesn't have multimedia (animation and audio at least) as an ePub publication, it is just too too old hat. There are picture books aplenty with animation and audio today, but they must run inside dedicated apps which cost thousands of dollars to produce. [Johnson] has created an ePUb-formatted eBook that any writer or illustrator can assemble on their own with no greater cost than the software tools they are already using, plus an understanding of HTML5 and CSS--open-source web programming tools that are easy to learn. Authors can now independently and economically produce finished products and sell them directly to their readers. Mother Nature Rhymes consists of 15 two-page spreads, with an original rhyme on one page and an illustration on the facing page. Gentle sound effects accompany the gentle animations, as birds and butterflies fly between the pages, a robin on a swing is wooed by a red-eyed virago, and other aural and visual treats delight your little ones as you read them to sleep."
D. B. Johnson's most recent print book, Magritte's Marvelous Hat, was inspired by the work of Belgian surrealist painter René Magritte and is filled with Magritte-like word puzzles and impossible pictures that will spark the imagination of both children and adults. The book includes four overlay pages that transform the pictures as the page is turned. In a starred review, School Library Journal says of Magritte's Marvelous Hat..."The artist's fascination with the limits of perception and two-dimensional representation provides mind-boggling images that children will relish. Johnson's additional layer of a hide-and-seek game and the inclusion of his own tricks offer more reasons to look closely. An author's note gives a brief context. Moving back and forth between this book and Magritte's art would be instructive and enjoyable for puzzle enthusiasts of any age. Beckoning, buoyant...brilliant."

D. B. Johnson's goal with each of his picture books is to draw children to the complex ideas in great works of literature and art. His first illustrated children's book, Henry Hikes to Fitchburg (Houghton Mifflin 2000), introduced one of his most endearing characters: Henry the bear. Henry is based on Henry David Thoreau, a nineteenth-century writer and philosopher who advocated a simple way of life, unencumbered by material possessions. Winner of several prestigious awards, Henry Hikes to Fitchburg "works on several levels," according to Booklist. "Johnson's adaptation of a paragraph taken from Thoreau's Walden ... illuminates the contrast between materialistic and naturalistic views of life without ranting or preaching."

In a starred review of the fifth book in his Henry series, Kirkus wrote: "From Henry Hikes to Fitchburg (2000) on, Johnson has surpassed all conventional biographers in presenting Thoreau's philosophy and spirit in ways that will make sense to younger readers." Henry's Night is ..."a great bedtime read, as mysterious and thought-provoking as a zen koan."

In addition to his "Henry" books, Johnson has also created several other characters that have engaged young readers. In Eddie's Kingdom a young artist (inspired by the Quaker folk painter, Edward Hicks) draws a picture he hopes will bring an end to all the arguments he hears from the tenants sharing his apartment building. Another original picture book, Four Legs Bad, Two Legs Good!, takes place on a falling-down farm where Farmer Orvie, a pig, spends too much time napping to keep things in proper order. With simplicity and humor, Johnson adds a lively new chapter to George Orwell's classic, Animal Farm. And his 2010 picture book, Palazzo Inverso, introduced children to the topsy-turvy world of Dutch artist M. C. Escher. With what Booklist lauded as "an undeniably impressive bit of optical trickery," readers turned the book upside-down at the end and read all the way back to the beginning in an endless Escher-loop.


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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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They make appearances throughout the book.
Jessica at Cracking the Cover
Imaginative and beautifully illustrated, D. B. Johnson has outdone himself again!
klvd
It's very fun book, for children and parents.
Sopana T.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By K. Laframboise on April 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover
D. B. Johnson tells a fanciful story of Magritte, whose runaway hat leads him on adventures and encourages him to paint. The artwork, inspired by the surrealistic painter Rene Magritte, uses clear overlays that add and subtract from illustrations to spark the creative imaginations of children and explore Magritte's surrealistic view of the world. Where does Johnson get these ideas? His previous children's books have gently introduced young children to ideas based on Henry David Thoreau's philosophy and the incorporation of mathematics into art by M. C. Erscher. How dry you may think, but don't worry. Johnson's stories are engaging and amusing, and children will love manipulating the overlays in Magritte's Marvelous Hat to transform the illustrations in the blink of an eye.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By An Enthusiastic Reader on June 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Surrealist world of Rene Magritte finds a new home in a genteel between-the-wars city populated by domestic animals, including a namesake dog who happens to be a painter. Magritte buys a hat that floats above his head, and the experience improves both his life and his art. The illustrations, carefully evoking the style of Rene Magritte, make references to many of his most important works--so much so, that you have to go through it a few times before you can be fairly sure you spotted them all (or, true to the Surrealist spirit, until the illusion overtakes you that you've done so).

The book is a delightful way to bring Modern art to children. My three-year-old boy has me read the book to him over and over. Parents--you know what that means: you've got a winner here. My son always calls out, "The hat came back!" at the appropriate moment in the story, and he shouts out again to announce when Magritte has made it back home after the adventure that drives the plot.

This is the most original children's book I've read in years, and I recommend it to all parents who want to find a fun way to lead their children onto a journey of discovery of Modern art.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Don Johnson is a genius as well as an exceptional artist. This book is for any reader; it's a wonderful children's story with thrilling illustrations that cannot help but interest reader's of all ages. The design of the book is imaginative and visually unique. Buy it for a child and then enjoy it yourself!
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This is really a story of friendship--the friendship between an artist and his inspiration, which can be a fickle thing. But the message (that being playful, lighthearted, and appreciative always brings our inspiration back) is clear, and a good one for a child or adult of any age to receive. I've given this as a gift to kids and also to grown-up artists, and it's always a hit. Who doesn't love a hat wearing a dog? The book is downright enchanting, as are all D.B. Johnson's books. I would frame every beautifully colored illustration, if its magic weren't in motion: the acetate pages in between each regular page alter the illustrations and make reading this book a dynamic experience.
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I bought this as a gift for a 6-year old boy. He was thrilled! He said he had never seen anything like it before & was so excited about the story & the transparent overlays. He kept running around showing everyone. This book is delightful for adults as well as children - it is charmingly written, beautifully illustrated, & very magical & unusual in the way it's presented.
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By Honest Abe on February 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book has been a big hit at home. Love the illustration, the story, the transparent overlay pages, and the general sense of mystery and creativity that it conveys. Pardon the cliche, but this is also one of those books that will be a hit equally with kid readers and adults. I've enjoyed the playful approach to Magritte's work.
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This book is truly wonderful! The story is imaginative and beautifully drawn with some clear plastic pages that add to the story and are sure to interest young and old alike.
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