Delessert’s signature surreal style is an apt accompaniment to a story inspired by Edward Lear.
Perched atop a 1,000-year-old beech tree is a lonely bear. More fantastical than realistic, this bear sports the titular “fuzzy, furry hat” bedecked with ribbons and bells. When the bear gives the hat a shake, the jingling attracts cardinals, who land on its head and enjoy the “fuzzy grass.” Soon a wild assortment of animals follows, from tiny, airborn alligators and elephants to sizable butterflies and flying fish, and they begin to make more music and build homes on the hat. This whimsical and vibrantly illustrated scenario derives from Edward Lear’s nonsense poem “The Quangle Wangle’s Hat,” in which an imaginary creature rests atop a funny tree and draws an equally outrageous mix of animals with the music of its hat. Here Delessert departs from the original and adds to the story as a few giant raindrops turn into a deluge that lasts for months. During the rain, the animals make the best of their situation, hunkering down together and shielding one another as they can. Up high and safe in the hat, they rejoice with music once again when the sun returns. Readers of Delessert’s previous picture books will recognize many familiar creatures as well as some that are named in Lear’s poem.
Younger readers will relish the merriment; older readers may find deeper meaning. (Picture book. 4-7)