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WHO WAS THE WOMAN WHO WORE THE HAT? by Nancy Patz

WHO WAS THE WOMAN WHO WORE THE HAT?

By Nancy Patz (Author) , Nancy Patz (Illustrator)

Age Range: 10 & up

Pub Date: March 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-525-46999-0
Publisher: Dutton

A hat viewed in the Jewish Museum sets off a string of questions about its owner by a narrator of indeterminate age. What was the woman like who wore the hat? “Did she put cream in her coffee?” “When the woman put on her hat, did she tip the brim just slightly?” These questions give way to more urgent ones: “I wonder if she wore it the day she left home the last time, that cold, cold day in Amsterdam—that cold cruel day in Amsterdam when the Jews were herded together and arrested in the Square.” Using the vehicle of the hat, the reader is made to realize both the particular, i.e. the characteristics of the individual who owned the hat and who perished, and the randomness of being singled out for death in a catastrophe such as the Holocaust. Although the vocabulary and spare text imply a very young reader, the events referred to presume some knowledge of the Holocaust, raising the issue of intended audience. Without some prior knowledge, the story would seem extremely abstract. Some of Platz’s drawings incorporate old photographs, bringing into sharp focus the human face of tragedy. An author’s note explains the origins of the story in a trip to the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam and the intention of the author in using photographs. An abbreviated chronology of the Holocaust is also appended, as if to provide the background needed to make sense of the text. A fine picture book to spark discussion among older readers. (Picture book. 10+)