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Magritte's Marvelous Hat

3.89  ·  Rating Details ·  508 Ratings  ·  133 Reviews
"Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see." —Rene Magritte

D.B. Johnson writes andillustrates the surreal story of famous surrealist painter Rene Magritte and his very mysterious (and mischievous!) hat. While the art reflects some of Magritte's own work, the text sets readers on a fun and accessible path to learning about th
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published April 17th 2012 by HMH Books for Young Readers
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Extra Yarn by Mac BarnettAnd Then It's Spring by Julie FoglianoGreen by Laura Vaccaro SeegerThis is Not My Hat by Jon KlassenThe Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce
2013 Mock Caldecott
29th out of 97 books — 244 voters
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Children Books About Art
20th out of 131 books — 108 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Lauren Stoolfire
Feb 26, 2016 Lauren Stoolfire rated it it was amazing
This is such a cool and unique picture book! It's inspired by the Belgian surrealist painter Rene Magritte and I love how imaginative elements of his work are incorporated here in the story.
Jessica Harrison
Sep 22, 2012 Jessica Harrison rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed, picture
Review via Cracking the Cover

Rene Magritte is known for his surrealist paintings. He was also known for a bowler hat.

In “Magritte’s Marvelous Hat,” author/illustrator D.B. Johnson brings Magritte to life in the form of a dog. One day, Magritte sees a marvelous hat in a store window. He tries on the hat and it just pops up and floats above his head, and that’s just the way she likes it. Magritte hurries home and finds that painting has become easy — his hat is amazing!

The next day Magritte goes f
Feb 11, 2013 Dolly rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
This is an unusual, but entertaining book about the artist René Magritte. We've been reading lots of books about artists recently (in conjunction with the January 2013 Books About Artists discussion in the Picture-Book Club in the Children's Books Group here at Goodreads.) This book wasn't part of that discussion, but I doubt I would have found it if we hadn't read Dinner at Magritte's.

This book features a cartoon dog in place of the actual man, and his more famous paintings are highlighted in s
Apr 07, 2012 Barbara rated it really liked it
Inspired by the imaginative artwork of Belgian artist Rene Magritte, the author/illustrator recreates his world and considers how he might have been inspired to paint ordinary objects in unusual ways. The use of four double-sided overlays helps readers understand the artist's vision. In this story, the inspiration for Magritte's work is a floating hat he purchases. Because the hat is so playful, Magritte spends many hours chasing after it, and his painting becomes more inspired by his adventures ...more
Inspired by the work of surrealist painter, Rene Magritte, D.B. Johnson creates a visually entertaining story of Magritte, a dog and painter, and his marvelous floating hat. Readers will enjoy combing through the illustrations over and over to find the illusions and hidden images.
I am of two minds about this one. On the one hand, while the story is pretty straightforward, there are so many things to notice in the pictures, and certainly a lot of references to actual Magritte paintings, and the plastic overlays work well with the invitation to look closer.

On the other hand, it seems to me that Magritte's art doesn't really need to be mediated for children...there's so much that is accessible to them (recognizable objects--hats, eggs, clouds, umbrellas, apples) and they o
I was looking for a book for storytime, and this book definitely didn't fit what I was looking at. I don't think the preschool crowd would follow what was going on. Maybe a school-age, who would also appreciate the pictures more. However, I've never been the biggest fan of surrealism. At least, not in art. Never fully got it. But I can appreciate it and there is plenty in this book that will get the reader, especially kids, to have to look twice. Maybe more. For there is much to see that is not ...more
Tina Rae
Sep 05, 2012 Tina Rae rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens-lit
Honestly I think I just love children's books a little more than a twenty year old should, haha. But something about this one just didn't strike me as completely fabulous. I liked the story and I liked its message and I LOVED how some of the pages were see through so when you turned the page, it changed the scene on the previous page. (Yes, I'm a nerd and I love things like that.) But something about the story just didn't strike me as completely fabulous. It's a great children's story but I don' ...more
Dec 12, 2013 Amanda rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Magritte's hat is in fact an illustrated picture book story about Rene Magritte the famous surrealist artist. The interesting twist is the characters are not people, they are dogs. The use of transparent overlay pages give readers a fun way to interact with the illustrations. The illustrations themselves brought some of Magritte's famous works of art to life, all while following a dog, who is following a hat through the story. Great book to introduce students to the artist.
Apr 28, 2013 Robin rated it really liked it
What a great book this is! I can't wait to use this for story class next time. It's such a great combination: teaching kids about an artist while entertaining them with a fun story with cool overlay pages! UPDATE: Dennis Johnson was on a panel at SLJ's Day of Dialog in June so I was able to get him to sign this book for me. How very cool is that?
Jan 21, 2013 Rebecca rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Rebecca by: Robin
Totally awesome book about Magritte (as a dog) using clear overlay pages and visual tricks to get at some of his most famous surrealist motifs (especially the hat). So much to look at here; I'm sure I didn't see all of it. Don't miss this clever book!

A good review and book trailer is here:
Apr 04, 2016 Cristhian rated it it was amazing
If I ever have a child, este sería el tipo de libros que les compraría.

Es tan bello en realidad <3
Dichotomy Girl
Feb 04, 2015 Dichotomy Girl rated it it was amazing
"Read it. It was about Magritte. He got paint splashed in his face. That's it. I would hug you when you read the book"

(My 3 1/2 year old's review in her own words)
Leslie L
Sep 07, 2013 Leslie L rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-books
For the kids: A wonderful introduction to Rene Magritte's work and surrealism. We had a great time comparing the book to Magritte's paintings.
Liz Yerby
Jun 09, 2016 Liz Yerby rated it it was amazing
This silly thing is my favorite kids book right now! So silly! So good.
Sep 29, 2016 Angela added it
Shelves: picture-books
This book is an opportunity to explore options when anything could be possible.
Sep 27, 2016 Loraine rated it really liked it
I love D. B. Johnson's artwork and his story telling ability! This beautifully constructed book introduces youngsters to an early Belgian surrealist, Magritte. And it introduces them to the idea of a muse, in this case a hat which seems to have magical properties. But our artist learns to find inspiration within his own heart and soul. Magritte's Marvelous Hat is a wondrous book!
Josh Sonii
Nov 18, 2014 Josh Sonii rated it it was amazing
This books starts of with a dog named Magritte seeing a nice hat in the window. He tried it on and it just floated above his head. Magritte loved it so he left, but the hat maker told him that it would blow away. Magritte walked all the way home and it did not go anywhere. He loved his hat so he ran home to draw a picture and it was his best picture yet. One day he went on walk with the hat and people laughed when they saw it. The hat wanted to play so it decided to fly into the fountain and Mag ...more
Oct 22, 2012 Treasa rated it really liked it
A beautiful and fascinating picture book about a dog painter, loosely based on the artist Rene Magritte. The story follows Magritte as he buys a hat that floats and moves on its own, is inspired to paint because of the hat, loses the hat, and is eventually reunited with the hat. The story itself is perfectly fine - nothing extraordinary, but enjoyable and sometimes quite clever. But this book gets its stars from the illustrations and the super fun transparent overlays. Every single illustration ...more
Haley Altizer
Magritte's Marvelous Hat, written by D.B. Johnson tells story of a dog named Magritte and how one day he finds the perfect hat for him. Throughout the book the hat and Magritte play games and pictures together. Without his hat Magritte felt as though he could not paint well, but when he had his hat his paintings kept getting better and better. Although, there was one thing special about the hat, it did not sit on his, it floated above it.
The illustrations in the book were truly amazing to me. I
Mar 23, 2013 Chelsea rated it liked it
2013 ALSC Notable Winners

Johnson, D B. Magritte's Marvelous Hat: A Picture Book. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2012. Print. 32 p.

Using computer generated illustrations the author has developed a playful, dreamlike picture book for young readers. Presented on round-edged pages, the story introduces children to surrealism. Magritte, the dog, gets a new hat which floats above his head and helps him to paint. Upon walking around town, the curious scenes are reminiscent of classic surr
Caryn Caldwell
Jul 18, 2013 Caryn Caldwell rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
In this surrealistic romp, the author reimagines Belgian painter Rene Magritte as a dapper dog. When Magritte buys a floating bowler hat in a shop, he discovers that he can now paint better than ever before. The hat is playful and wants to explore Magritte's world with him, but as Magritte grows more enamored of his painting, he ignores the hat. When the hat retaliates by flying off, Magritte finds he can no longer paint the way he used to. How will this artist continue to create without his mus ...more
Magritte was one of a group known as "surrealists" . Free thinkers, not just painters, but poets, photographers, filmmakers, and musicians. Magritte pushed the boundaries of art by painting both what was "there" and what was" not there" his famous painting of the floating hat is obviously the inspiration for this fanciful book.
It is filled with lovely surprises, both verbal and visual. Ordinary objects find themselves in extraordinary places, and often disappear when they arent supposed to.
Magritte the painter-dog finds a hat that he loves. It doesn't muss his hair or pinch his ears because it floats above his head! Magritte also learns that it makes him a better painter, too. However, when the hat goes missing one day Magritte finds he cannot paint at all. Off he goes to find his hat. But the hat is hiding from him. Well, two can play that game. The hat finds Magritte back at home and this time lands on his head.

Children will enjoy the plastic double sided pages that change the p
Dec 22, 2013 Asho rated it really liked it
What a great find on the New Picture Books shelf at the library. This book is just plain cool. I don't know much about Magritte or his artwork, so my son and I enjoyed this simply as a picture book. The surrealist artwork provides so much to point to and talk about on each page. My 22-month-old son's favorite game right now is "That's not a hat!" so it was fun to have an actual hat to look for throughout this book. The fancy clear overlays that interact with the regular pages were pretty cool, t ...more
Sean Kottke
Jul 01, 2012 Sean Kottke rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012, childrens
This is a delightful introduction to Magritte and surrealism for young readers, but one that demands multiple readings and thoughtful meditations on its rich imagery to really enjoy. Definitely not a good candidate for a quick read-aloud, but a perfect vehicle for helping young readers interrogate visual media and enter into Magritte's world. My only quibble is the only sporadic use of one of its cleverest devices: clear pages presenting overlays to the book's artwork that reveal surprising new ...more
Mar 24, 2016 Erin rated it really liked it
This book is great for older readers! The pictures are marvelous and the story comes to life of the famous artist through a dog. Readers are captivated as the dog tries to paint due to his new magic hat, but the hat will not let him. I think it is really unique that some of Magritte's real work is featured in the book itself. I think young children in the upper elementary school grades will really enjoy getting to know the type of art that this artist creates through a fun character and setting. ...more
Judy Desetti
May 26, 2012 Judy Desetti rated it liked it
This one would be great to use to teach about surreal art. This one will take a more sophisticated reader to see how when the dog looks into the window he sees the back of his head not his face. The dog's hat floats above his head and helps the artist loosen up and see the possibilities in all situations. The point is to help the reader and viewer to consider viewing the world from a different perspective. To change the way we see the world.

The book also has plastic overlays on several pages. I
Kristina Jean Lareau
Feb 13, 2016 Kristina Jean Lareau rated it really liked it
Shelves: picturebooks, animals
I thought I was going to dislike this book because the images look as though they are rendered digitally. And it is quite possible that they are, but the influx of surrealist references and hidden hats turned my head. Not knowing the references immediately, I thought the author was using gimmicks to sell the book (there are several clear pages that have double-sided illustrations). But when I realized that Magritte was THE Rene Magritte, a little bulb went off in my head and started at the begin ...more
Jul 06, 2013 Jayna rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Ages 4 and up

Magritte is found by a magical hat that floats above his head that makes him paint better. When Magritte upsets the hat it floats away and Magritte has to find it by playing a game with it. Unusual illustrations make the book interesting.

This book could be used for a story time about art as the hat helps Magritte to paint better. You could use this book to talk to the children about how much they like to draw and write. Encourage parents to leave out paper and crayons so that the
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