When I was a new reader, my mother signed me up for one of the books-by-mail clubs that were popular then. My memory about how it worked – how frequently the books came, etc. – is fuzzy, but I do remember the excitement I felt when those boxes would arrive.
I still have some of those special books; I read them to my daughter when she was younger, and some of them serve as art around our house (see earlier post), propped in a window or on a small easel. I gathered up a few of them the other day so I could take a photo to go with this post; later the same day, I came across a link to an interview with Tomi Ungerer. When I got around to taking the photos, there was Ungerer’s name on one of my old favorites, The Hat. This book, written and illustrated by Ungerer, is the tale of “a tall black top hat, shiny as satin and belted with a magenta silk sash” that blows into the life of Benito Badoglio, a penniless veteran, and changes his life (and a few others’ along the way).
I often connect to these picture books from long ago via the stories and illustrations without remembering the author or illustrator’s name – back then, I probably preferred to think of the stories having materialized magically – but I’m glad to finally be acquainted with the man behind The Hat.