Magritte's Marvelous Hat
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Magritte's Marvelous Hat

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  328 ratings  ·  99 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...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published April 17th 2012 by HMH Books for Young Readers
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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.
Jessica Harrison
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...more
Feb 11, 2013 Dolly rated it 4 of 5 stars 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...more
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...more
Tina Rae
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
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
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:
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...more
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.
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
Rachel Hereford
Clever and unique picture book filled with mixed media illustrations, animal characters, and a surrealistic style. There are multiple surprises on each page. Children will love the transparent, double-sided overlays and the use of everyday objects in non-traditional ways. The Author's Note at the end provides information about how this book was inspired by the paintings of Rene Magritte, a Belgian artist.
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...more
Caryn Caldwell
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
Anne Broyles
This fun story is not so much a biography of the artist, but an experience of surrealistic art in a fun story about Magritte (as a dog). Transparent pages show how quickly artistic perspective can be transformed.

An Author's Note explains surrealism, and gives more info on Magritte and other surrealists.
Super cute! So glad I bought this book for my library. The illustrations are adorable and it would be a fun book to use in an art lesson about surrealism. A little worried about how long the transparent pages will last before kids wreck them though. :-p
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.
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
I thought it was very original and I liked the illustrations, but my son hated it with a passion, he usually does not care what rating we give a book, but with this one he was insistent to give it a zero.
Sean Kottke
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
Tony Desimone
This family-friendly picture book tribute to Rene Magritte, one of my favorite surrealists, is clever and lots of fun.
Exposure to art is equally important to a child’s development as reading. In his book, Magritte’s Marvelous Hat, D.B. Johnson infuses the joys of art and reading. Not only does Johnson name his character after René Magritte, his illustrations are riddled with references to the Belgian painter’s work. Interaction is also a must, so Johnson added in a few “clear” pages containing images that create new illustrations when they are turned. Johnson created a so much more than just a story about a dog...more
Judy Desetti
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...more
Katie Roseveare
This is such a beautiful book. You could use this with the art teacher and painting what you see - or want to see. Writing: if you had a marvelous hat what would it allow you to do?
Kristina Lareau
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
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...more
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.
What a great, clever book this is! And what a fun surprise for me and my daughters!! I picked it up at the library off the "New" shelf, knew nothing about it, but I know Magritte's famous painting so I thought it might be interesting. Was it EVER!!! Children's picture books are an ideal format for introducing surrealism, and this book does one of the best jobs I've ever seen. Both my kids insisted on going back through all the pages when we were done to pick out the oddities.
Perhaps I was disappointed in this book because I was so excited by it's premise and cover illustrations.

As a student of Art History--French Art History in particular--I expected to be swept away by this story and that just didn't happen.

The illustrations are magnificent but the idea of the book is better than it's actual execution. I think it's confusing, vague and detached from itself and its reader too often.

"Disappointed" is my most accurate reaction.
A inspired exploration of surrealist artist Rene Magriette's life and work. Includes some cool, transparent pages that will inspire children to take a careful look at perspective in each illustration.

Recommended for elementary school audience. Though I enjoyed the illustrations and transparent pages, I think this is a book that will be tough for students to 'get.' A good teaching text but one that many students will miss without teacher/adult support.
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