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Happy Birthday, Madame Chapeau by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts

Happily, Andrea Beaty and David Roberts, the dynamic duo who brought us Iggy Peck, Architect Rosie Revere, Engineer, have teamed up again for the delightful Happy Birthday, Madame Chapeau. Even better, as I learned in the Artist's Note, David Roberts worked as a milliner himself for many years before turning his hand to illustration. Roberts shares that he has a "particular appreciation for the attention Isabella Blow brought to the form," inspiring him to base the character of Madame Chapeau on her. Even if you  don't recognize her name, you have probably seen one or two of her creations over the years - or hats designed by her protégés. Not only are the hats in Happy Birthday, Madame Chapeau absolutely amazing creations, but Roberts took the opportunity to pay homage to other great milliners and include a few of his personal favorites. If you have a little hat lover at home, definitely take Happy Birthday, Madame Chapeau as an opportunity to do a little research on the hats and artists mentioned here and maybe even make a few of your own...

Andrea Beaty is one of a few picture book authors who turns a brilliant rhyme, and Happy Birthday, Madame Chapeau is no exception. Where you could really dine on Iggy Peck, Architect and Rosie Revere, Engineer, this new book is more of a dessert, a confection like the hats that Madame Chapeau herself designs. And I'm fine with that, especially when Roberts sprinkles enticing details throughout his vibrant illustrations. Like dessert, Happy Birthday, Madame Chapeau is a wonderful thing and not to be missed!

Madame Chapeau is the world's finest hat maker and is passionately dedicated to her craft. However, on one day a year, her birthday to be exact, she unpacks her "most elegant dress," removes her workaday hat and puts on her "best birthday bonnet, one that was made for her by someone very special, and heads off to Chez Snooty-Patoot for chocolate cake.

Sadly, a crow makes off with this special chapeau and Madame Chapeau chases it through the streets where she meets many other hat wearers hoping to share the wealth. To each, she replies, "Someone made that for you. For me to run off with it simply wouldn't do." 

Alone and hatless at the Chez Snooty-Patoot, Madame Chapeau sadly cuts into the cake she had already paid for. However, a young admirer (who can be seen on many pages throughout the book if you look closely) offers up a specially made birthday gift, the narrator telling us that a "freakier headpiece has never been seen." Madame Chapeau embraces this gift and the creative spirit it was given in and, as we see on the last page, she and the mini-milliner become great friends and collaborators!

Happy Birthday, Madame Chapeau is a gem of a book and, when I think about it, better than dessert because you can consume it over and over (and you WILL be asked to read it again and again) and it is entirely calorie free!

Source: Review Copy


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