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Stormy's Hat    by Eric A. Kimmel & Andrea U'ren order for
Stormy's Hat
by Eric A. Kimmel
Order:  USA  Can
Farrar Straus & Giroux, 2008 (2008)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Daninhirsch

Eric Kimmel is the master of retold folktales from different cultures. In Stormy's Hat, he tackles a slice of Americana based on true events: the invention of the railroad hat.

Stormy is a railroad engineer who is frustrated because his job requires a hat, but he cannot seem to find just the right one. A paper hat catches on fire, a fireman's hat makes him too sweaty, and a Stetson hat just gets in his line of vision. Each night, Stormy comes home and complains to his wife Ida about his problem. Whenever Ida starts to make a suggestion, Stormy interrupts her, telling her not to worry her pretty little head over such matters.

Finally, Ida speaks up and threatens to walk out on Stormy if he dismisses her ideas once more. Eventually, the two of them work together to come up with the perfect blue and white striped hat that railroad workers wear today.

The story offers up a little known fact about a small part of American history. I think it will appeal to children of both genders, and it teaches a nice lesson about respecting the opinions of others. The illustrations are lively with a touch of humor. U'ren's style is so distinctive that I was immediately able to recognize that she was also the illustrator on one of our family's favorite picture books, One Potato, Two Potato by Cynthia DeFelice.

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