Bowing to peer hat pressure never works.
Harbet—a bipedal, warmly off-white dog, mildly and endearingly scruffy—has a favorite hat. It has pompoms, earflaps, and patterns; his nana knitted it when Harbet was a puppy, and it keeps him toasty warm. Unfortunately, the local trendsetters—a dinosaur, a storklike bird, and something vaguely ursine—have different standards and no compunction about mocking. They all sport Carmen Miranda–type fruit hats and declare his old hat “OLD HAT!” (the tale’s refrain), beginning a cycle in which Harbet acquires a new hat like theirs but always after it’s become passé. His fruit hat is so yesterday, and—poor Harbet!—the fruit rots and attracts flies. He obtains a traffic-cone hat with a mounted searchlight, like theirs, but now they have hats that look like little ships. Harbet consults Top Hat magazine; he tries a saucepan on his head, a pink work boot, and an undersea diving helmet. Still, “OLD HAT!” Only the surprising reveal of his bare head changes the power dynamic. Gravett’s pencil, watercolor, and acrylic ink illustrations are cheerful, delicate, and funny. While the mockery is set in huge, all-caps type and the mockers do point, their facial expressions don’t jeer, and the art’s gentle lines and heartening colors keep the vibe lighter than it might have been.
A story about teasing and pressure, but a fairly tranquil one—with excellent chapeaus. (Picture book. 3-6)