Book Reviews

Review: A Hat Full of Secrets

The latest book in Little Tiger’s Colour Illustration series is a sweet, fantastical tale focusing on the power of memories and story-telling, and an adorable relationship between a boy and his grandad.

Book: A Hat Full Of Secrets by Karl Newson, illustrated by Wazza Pink

Read before: No

Publication date: 1st October 2020

Ownership: Review copy sent free of charge by Little Tiger Books. All opinions my own.

As with the books in this series that I’ve previously reviewed, The Hat Full Of Secrets is a perfect bridge between picture book and early reader, offering longer paragraphs on fully illustrated pages. I think they’d be a great addition to the library of any young reader who is making the leap between the two, as they offer the comfort of the bright, illustrated pages, but the more involved text will really help to build confidence in reading on their own. Here, Henry Pepper discovers a big secret and worries about telling his Grandad, but Grandad has a plan. He gives Henry his old hat to keep the secret under, which is great until Grandad’s secrets escape! Henry and Grandad have to track the secrets down and get rid of them – luckily, when Grandad shares the secret with Henry, they disappear. Maybe Henry can tell Grandad about his big secret after all…

I loved the moral behind this book, that a problem shared is a problem halved. It’s useful for children to see that they can bring their worries and secrets to a trusted adult, rather than shouldering the burden themselves. It’s also a really fun story in its own right, full of flights of fancy. Grandad’s secrets have more than a tinge of the fantastic about them! The plot leaves it pleasingly unclear about what was and wasn’t real, as it’s left very much up to the reader to decide for themself, but I think the ambiguity captures the magic of make-believe play very well. Henry’s secret, when it is revealed, may not be very plausible in our world, but it’s real to him and to his Grandad, whose stories prove he’s clearly still very in tune with his imagination! I loved the bond between the two of them, and the way that Grandad accepts Henry’s concerns about his secret as valid – Henry obviously trusts him lots, and Grandad does a great job of calming him down and reassuring him. It’s lovely to see a good grandparental relationship in a book like this!

The colours are perfectly autumnal – really rich but muted oranges, yellows and greens. Grandad’s house and garden, which are the setting for a lot of the spreads, look so cosy and homey, which really helps to build that sense of nostalgia and comfort. There’s plenty of more action-filled scenes too, in Grandad’s memories, and it’s cool to see him at different ages. The font has plenty of words emphasised in different sizes and placements, so it stands out well from the illustration and keeps the text from feeling too intense. I also want to shout out the endpapers, which are covered with a gorgeous pattern of whimsical hats – a lovely touch that makes the book feel really special!

Overall, this is a fun little read that’s beautifully presented, and one I really recommend for kids transitioning to longer, more independent reading. It’s full of heart and a great book for autumn – four out of five cats!

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