The lengths that high-society women in the 1700s would go to for their hairstyles….
Mrs. Muriel Paddington would like to win an award at the Moonlight Ball. After some back and forth with her hairdresser, she decides upon a windmill theme. The next spreads detail the elaborate 3-foot-tall hairpiece’s construction. It includes a wire frame, pillow, and hair extensions “donated” (read: demanded) from her maid. Then there’s the beef-marrow and wax pomade, the pound of flour per week that dusts the creation, and the mixture of sugar water that solidifies the whole thing—no wonder Mrs. Paddington has a problem with mice when she finally gets into bed and tries to sleep (sitting mostly upright with a special pillow). A visit to the Silver Mousetrap Shoppe takes care of the problem, and a pewter headscratcher gives some relief from the insects infesting her hairdo. Readers will likely either be laughing like the commoners on the street or shaking their heads in disbelief that rich grown-ups would actually crawl in and out of a store because they couldn’t fit through the door upright. Cox’s illustrations ably capture the whimsy and creativity of the hairstyles while poking gentle fun at the same time. Mrs. Paddington’s surroundings are suitably opulent, all the people are pale, and the dialogue is aptly stuffy. Occasional sidebars attest to the historicity that underlies the ridiculousness, but there is no explicit parsing of fact from fancy.
Readers will goggle at the very notion.(sources) (Picture book. 8-12)