Happy Birthday Madame Capeau by Andrea Beaty illustrated by David Roberts

Madame Chapeau is a lonely hat maker; she spends her days making bespoke hats to perfectly match her customers. Unfortunately, Madame Chapeau is missing the perfect match for herself. On her birthday, each year, she would put on her favourite dress and her favourite bonnet; then she would venture out into the city to dine in her favourite restaurant… alone!

To her dismay, a crow swoops down and snatches away her bonnet. Madame Chapeau chases the crow through the streets of Paris. Along the way she is generously offered hats by passers-by, a baker, a policeman, a cowboy & many more. But none of them are quite right. Full of sorrow she sits down in the restaurant to dine alone, too sad to take a bite of her cake. Until a special little girl gives her a very special gift.

Here are 14 reasons why I treasure this book…

  1. The abundance of rich vocabulary, that flows and rhymes from the beginning to the end – ‘Each feather, each bauble, each bead, and each bow – painstakingly chosen by Madame Chapeau.’
  2. The calligraphic-ribbon typography on the front cover
  3. The somewhat bemused expression upon Madame Chapeau’s face
  4. Looking under the dust cover …beautiful
  5. The way the type is set meticulously on each page and spread
  6. The myriad of marvellously refined hats
  7. The fact that David Roberts, the illustrator, was a former milliner.
  8. I like that the author & illustrator have worked together in the past, Iggy Peck, Architect & Rosie Revere, Engineer. That’s a pairing you can trust!
  9. The story is told by writer and illustrator in equal parts – a true collaboration
  10. The vocabulary I have acquired to describe hats in all their shapes, sizes and forms
  11. The sense of place you feel when absorbing yourself within its pages
  12. The generous lashings of white space, that give the gorgeous illustrations room to breathe and sing
  13. The fine detail to be discovered within each illustration
  14. The pathos of Madame Chapeau’s loneliness

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