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VIRGINNIE’S HAT by Dori Chaconas


by Dori Chaconas & illustrated by Holly Meade

Age Range: 3 - 7

Pub Date: May 1st, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-7636-2397-5
Publisher: Candlewick

Illustrations outshine text in this tale of thwarted predation. When Virginnie loses her hat to a gust of wind, it gets stuck in a tree, much to its owner’s frustration. She takes off one boot, then the other, to throw them into the tree and dislodge the hat. Unbeknownst to Virginnie, however, first a crayfish, then a snake, then an alligator each decide to snack on her toes, only to be driven off when an airborne boot comes crashing down on them. The conceit is quite clever, and the illustrations are divine: Meade’s watercolor collage images make the most of the liquid nature of the medium, the blurring colors evoking the swamp with mastery, and Virginnie (and her toes) rendered to exude vigor and personality. Chaconas’s faux-folksy verse text, however, strains at times to maintain scansion and rhyme, resulting in an awkward read-aloud that does not do justice either to story or to illustrations. Countrified expressions—“yee-haw!” and elided g’s at the ends of most, but not all, participles—seem artificially imposed rather than rising naturally from the text. A cryin’ shame. (Picture book. 3-7)