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The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins (1938)

av Dr. Seuss

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1,447309,436 (3.99)42
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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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 rösta 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 |
Bartholomew has one hat that is rather plain, but it was his father’s, so he loved it. However, when he comes to face the king, the king demands he remove his hat. However, when Bartholomew removes one hat, another just like it appears on his head! The King is infuriated. He asks many different people to try to remove the hat, but no one can. Finally, the King is giving up, and he sentences Bartholomew to execution. However, the executioner will not chop off his head with his hat on, as that is a rule! They decide to push Bartholomew off the top of the tower, but as they climb, Bartholomew continues to throw hats off left and right, trying desperately to get them off. The hats begin to change as they near the 500th hat, adding a feather or a gem here and there. The 500th hat is very beautiful, and the King wants to buy it for 500 pieces of gold. When Bartholomew takes off that hat to give it to the King, he finds that his head is hatless! He returns home to his parents with no hat but a sack of gold.

I thought that this book was fun and feel like kids would really enjoy this story. The storybook format is different than any other Dr. Seuss book I have read, but it still has his signature style. I thought it was interesting that Seuss never explains why Bartholomew’s hats are so peculiar; instead, he just ends the story saying that “it happened but is unlikely to happen again.” ( )
  dperkins9 | Mar 24, 2020 |
I was able to read the sequel before this story so I was expecting that this could be better. I love the sequel than this but I still enjoyed reading the story. It's just that I don't think that I found any lesson. ( )
  fugou | Aug 14, 2017 |
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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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