What parent or caregiver hasn’t played the game of putting on and taking off a piece of clothing with a baby?
Heras and Benoit cleverly take that experience and knit it into a story with a cute brown-skinned toddler getting ready to go outside with a pigtailed older sibling’s help with shoes and jacket sleeves. Sippy cup, pail and shovel, potty stop, and favorite stuffed animal are all required as well, but with each step the child takes one hat off and then puts another back on. The tot cycles through a hat with a bear’s face and ears, a striped hat with a pom-pom, a penguin hat with tassels, a green, knobbly hat with frog’s eyes, before returning to the bear hat—which ends up in a pile of leaves as soon as the children finally get outside. Even Bunny wears a hat (with carrots on it, of course). “Time to go out! / Need a hat. // Hats in basket / Red hat, green hat, striped hat / Which hat?” The staccato phrases are extended by the charming watercolor-and-digital illustrations that bleed off the page, creating an intimate, up-close effect. Soft colors and background patterns of knitted yarn (which only adults will notice) add a cozy feeling to the text pages. Heavyweight paper and rounded corners will help little hands to turn the pages easily.
A seemingly simple story is greatly enhanced by nuanced, toddler-friendly details. (Picture book. 1-3)