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The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins (1938)

de Dr. Seuss

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Each time Bartholomew Cubbins attempts to obey the King's order to take off his hat, he finds there is another one on his head.
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You can't go wrong with any Dr Seuss book honestly but this one really is one of my favorites by him. The story is clever in a way that only Dr Seuss can manage and the illustrations are fabulous as they are in all his books. A must read for adults and children alike. ( )
  KateKat11 | Sep 24, 2021 |
First published in 1938, The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins is the story of a young boy (the same one featured in the Caldecott Honor Award-winner Bartholomew and the Oobleck) and his unjust treatment at the hands of a king.
  riselibrary_CSUC | Sep 7, 2021 |
Heading into town one day, the humble Bartholomew Cubbins whips his hat off his head when King Derwin passes in his carriage, only to find that a new one - an exact duplicate - has taken its place. The irate king, prouder than he is wise, stops the procession to demand that Bartholomew show the proper respect, and that young boy, almost petrified with fright, rushes to comply. Unfortunately, no matter how many times he removes his hat, he always finds it instantly replaced. Hauled off to the castle, he is confronted by the king and his courtiers in the throne room, and an investigation is launched. But no one, from the hat maker to the wise men, the magicians to the executioner, can solve the problem. Eventually, the king's spoiled rotten nephew, the Grand Duke Wilfred, suggests chucking Bartholomew off the tower, a fate that is only avoided when the final, 500th hat to appear is so dazzlingly ornate, that the king decides he must have it for himself...

The first of two picture-books featuring that engaging young hero, Bartholomew Cubbins - the second was Bartholomew and the Ooblek, a Caldecott Honor Book in 1950 - The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins was originally published in 1938, the year after Dr. Seuss's picture-book debut, And To Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street, and is his second contribution to the form. Although I definitely read the second book about Bartholomew as a girl, this one is not a title I recall from my own childhood. I picked it up as part of a Dr. Seuss retrospective I have undertaken, as an act of personal protest against the suppression of six of the author/artist's titles - And To Think I Saw It On Mulberry Street, McElligot's Pool, If I Ran the Zoo, Scrambled Eggs Super!, On Beyond Zebra! and The Cat's Quizzer - in recent days. See my review of And To Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street HERE, for a fuller exploration of my thoughts on that matter. This title has thankfully not (yet!) been deemed controversial.

Leaving that aside, I enjoyed The 500 Hat of Bartholomew Cubbins immensely, appreciating its tongue-in-cheek fairy-tale feeling, and its immensely expressive artwork. Parts of the story, particularly the episode in which both the Grand Duke Wilfred and Yeoman the Bowman attempt to shoot the hats from Bartholomew's head, reminded me of traditional lore. Specifically, the famous episode from the William Tell story. Other elements - the five hundred hats, the hapless court attendants, the executioner's refusal to behead Bartholomew, because it must be done when the prisoner is hatless - struck me as vintage Seuss, with that oddball sense of humor, and that matter-of-factly magical quality I have come to associate with his work. The illustrations here are done in black and white, with Bartholomew's red hat providing the only color on the page. This choice emphasizes how central the hat is to the story, as its outrageous and unusual reproduction of itself causes such chaos for both its owner and the rather silly king. Royalty definitely doesn't come off looking well here - King Derwin seems self-important, rather stupid, easily led, and swayed by both vanity and greed - making me wonder whether this was common in Seuss' books, or not. I'll be keeping an eye on that, going forward in this reading project. This is one I would recommend to picture-book readers who enjoy fairy-tale type stories, although it's a little text-heavy, so it's definitely not for the very young. Perhaps five and up? ( )
1 vota AbigailAdams26 | Mar 13, 2021 |
NA
  pszolovits | Feb 3, 2021 |
This is the only Dr. Seuss book I've ever read that featured an executioner. I hope it won't be the last. ( )
  bgramman | May 9, 2020 |
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In the beginning, Bartholomew Cubbins didn't have five hundred hats.
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Each time Bartholomew Cubbins attempts to obey the King's order to take off his hat, he finds there is another one on his head.

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