Cover image for Zara's hats
Zara's hats
Meisel, Paul.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Dutton Children's Books, [2003]

Physical Description:
32 unnumbered pages : color illustrations, ; 29 cm
Selig, the hatmaker, creates beautiful hats with the help of his wife and daughter Zara. When he runs out of feathers, Selig travels all over the world looking for more feathers. Zara, looking at the empty display window in the shop, uses flowers and papier-mache animals and fruit to make hats that the customers love.
Reading Level:
770 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.8 0.5 69299.

Reading Counts RC K-2 4.3 2 Quiz: 35936 Guided reading level: C.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PIC BK Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PIC BK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC BK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC BK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC BK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

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A plucky heroine saves the day! Selig, the hatmaker, loves to make hats. Zara, his daughter, loves to help him. When Selig runs out of his famous feathers and must travel to find more, Zara misses Selig terribly. One day she gets a brilliant idea, and soon a prospering hat shop welcomes Selig home. This amusing tale of an imaginative heroine, based on the author's grandmother, will inspire readers with its upbeat spirit and the close, loving relationship between daughter and father.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

PreS^-Gr. 2. Illustrator Meisel makes his writing debut with this story based on his grandmother's childhood. Young Zara loves to help out in her father's lively hat shop, adding the finishing touches and talking with the adoring customers. When a citywide shortage of feathers threatens to close down the shop, Zara's father hits the road on an international quest for exotic materials. Zara comforts herself in his absence by returning to the worktable and making hats of her own. Her wild creations are a huge hit, and Zara's father returns to a business that's more successful than ever. The silly notion that Zara's father would travel abroad to search for feathers instead of using another material weakens the story. But the hat shop is a compelling setting, and Meisel's language brings Zara's world and work alive with vivid words and goofy puns (the customers include Brenda Hookenlader, the fire chief's wife). What really shines here, though, are Meisel's watercolor-and-ink pictures that show Zara's creations in all their fantastic glory. --Gillian Engberg

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this tale of a turn-of-the-century New York milliner, Meisel (Lunch Money) creates both a sentimental ode to his roots and a spunky heroine. Zara helps her father, Selig, make fine feathered hats that are "good enough for the president's wife." When the feathers run short and the family business falters, Selig leaves on a round-the-world journey to find more marabou. While he's gone, Zara fills the empty shop window with hats of her own design, decorated with fire hydrants, cakes, fishbowls and stuffed cats. Her fanciful creations are a hit (" `I thought these were from Paris,' said Mrs. Fezzleworth. `You made these extraordinary hats?' ") and Selig returns to a triumph ("People came from near and far to see the little hatmaker and to buy her hats"). Young readers will be drawn to the resourceful Zara as she takes the initiative, works hard, then succeeds. Equally appealing are the sunny illustrations, which detail a rose-colored world of old-fashioned city streets, fruit carts and, of course, whimsical hats. Clearly a labor of love for Meisel (Zara was his grandmother), the book's cheery optimism serves as a happy reminder of how families can love and support one another. Ages 4-8. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 3-Selig makes wonderful hats, selling them to Loretta Falsetta the opera singer, or Brenda Hookenlader, the fire chief's wife, and others. Sadly, he runs out of feathers, a major component of his design, and he must travel by steamer to far-off places to find a new supply. In her father's absence, lonely Zara designs her own line of expressive hats using handmade fabric flowers and papier-mache fruits and animals. To her surprise, the ladies love them. When Papa finally does return, he finds a shop bustling with contented customers and hats "good enough for the president's wife." Using his own family history as inspiration, Meisel tells a fully fleshed out and engaging story. In a style reminiscent of the collaborative works of Amy Hest and Amy Schwartz, he creates, through the seamless combination of art and text, a slice-of-life tale that encompasses not just the experiences of one family but expands it to become a window into a past world. The pen-and-ink and watercolor art is light, colorful, and highly detailed. It captures the energy of the story while establishing the nuances of the early part of the 20th century, when men wore bowlers and top hats and street vendors sold their ware from horse-drawn carts. When Mrs. Edith Roosevelt appears on the final page, making good on Selig's repeated claim, readers can't help but smile. This is a rich and flavorful tale, satisfying and meaningful.-Martha Topol, Traverse Area District Library, Traverse City, MI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.