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by Jeff Brumbeau & illustrated by Gail de Marcken

Age Range: 5 - 8

Pub Date: March 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-439-31895-5
Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Brumbeau and de Marcken (The Quiltmaker’s Gift, 2001) turn their attention from a kindly but determined quilter and a greedy king to a kindly queen and a determined lady who wears a Parisian hat with a live chicken on top. The conventional townspeople are outraged at this fashion faux pas, as their queen is due to arrive for a visit, and they are sure that Miss Hunnicutt and her hat will be an embarrassment. When the queen arrives with her own unusual hat sporting a live turkey, she trades hats with Miss Hunnicutt and invites her to the palace for a party. The townspeople immediately all start wearing hats with various fowl on top, but Miss Hunnicutt, style setter that she is, moves on to an even more unusual hat, with a porcupine to suit her rather prickly nature. De Marcken’s busy watercolor illustrations provide lots of amusing details in panoramic views of the old-fashioned town, including a poster-sized representation on the reverse side of the volume’s jacket. The endpapers show Miss Hunnicutt trying on an astonishing assortment of hats with living decorations, which might have made an intriguing story themselves. Though the hats with live adornment have a certain amount of appeal, the overly long, somewhat pedantic story fails to convey in a meaningful way the intended message of respecting individual style, and the story’s attempts at humor never achieve a satisfying fit. (Picture book. 5-8)