Harper & Row (now Viking), 1966
Jennie can hardly wait for the new hat her aunt has promised her. “It will be big and beautiful and flowery,” she tells herself happily. But when the box finally arrives, there is just a plain hat inside. Although a disappointed Jennie tries hard to make the best of it, nothing quite works…until a magical gesture of friendship makes her dream come true.
Take a Closer Look
Jennie’s Hat explores one of Ezra’s favorite themes: a love of nature. Springtime seems to waft from every page. In this story, far from the adventures of Peter and his friends, Ezra’s attention to his characters’ emotional life is as focused as ever. Jennie eagerly awaits the arrival of a hat, a gift from a favorite aunt, then suffers disappointment when it isn’t what she hoped for—the kind of fancy hat that ladies wear to church. She tries to make the best of it, blinking back tears and distracting herself by feeding the birds in the park. Nothing quite works…and then the story takes a fairy-tale turn. Keats fashions an elaborate, Victorian-style collage composed of flowers, leaves and a host of fantastical items to sit atop Jennie’s plain white hat. This delightful creation is assembled, over the course of six pages, by the flock of birds that Jennie feeds! The hat, the birds in flight and their grand gesture of friendship make for a Keatsian tour de force.