Thursday, July 2, 2015

Brimsby's Hats by Andrew Prahin

Brimsby's Hats by Andrew Prahin
Simon & Schuster

Rating: 5 stars

For years, Brimsby's best friend visited every day. His best friend made wonderful tea, and Brimsby made wonderful hats as they filled the hours with chatter about everything and anything. Then one morning his best friend said he was leaving to travel far away so he could realize his dream of becoming a sea captain. Brimsby sent him on his way with a sad, little wave and a brand-new hat.

As you can imagine, Brimsby got pretty lonely. His house was way too quiet without the lively conversations with his best friend.

So he went out looking for some new friends. Despite a heavy blanket of snow and more continuing to fall, he found some, perched up in a tree, trying to stay warm. The birds were trying to stay warm with bird-sized wood-burning stoves. Brimsby watched these busy birds, and knew he could help.

The hats kept the snow out of their nests and
stopped the cold wind from blowing out their fires.
He went back to his hat-making shop and made some modifications on his hats. Some days later, he returned to the tree, climbed up with a ladder, and handed the busy birds hats that each had a door, a window, and a hole for the stove pipe. The grateful birds now had time to return to Brimsby's home, drink some tea, and talk about anything and everything.

Brimsby wasn't lonely anymore.

(And from time to time, Brimsby and his new bird friends trekked a far distance to visit his best friend in a seaside town full of ships, and talk about how wonderful it was that they had all been lucky enough to meet one another.)

I think I'm especially primed to love this story because some dear people in my kids' lives just moved away. I love that this story, unlike Bad Bye, Good Bye and some other picture books, focuses on the one who was left behind--in this case, Brimsby. In real life, me and my kids. I love how Brimsby supports his friend but also has the gumption to do something about his loneliness--and he makes new friends by changing what he normally does and giving something of himself to help others.

This giving of yourself is risky! In a big way! But for Brimsby it works out, and I hope kids all over--those who have dear ones move away and those whose best friends still sit beside them--realize that giving of yourself is often worth the risk. And what a gem of a book this is.

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