Magritte's Marvelous Hat
by Johnson, D. B.; Johnson, D. B. (ILT)

A visual account of the life and work of famous surrealist painter René Magritte shares the playful story of the artist's mischievous hat and invites children to learn about his creative concepts by using transparent pages that add yet another level of surrealism to the illustrations as the pictures transform with the turn of a page. By the award-winning creator of Henry Hikes to Fitchburg. 20,000 first printing.

D. B. Johnson has been a freelance illustrator for more than twenty years, during which time
he has drawn upon the influence and thoughts of philosophers and artists such as Henry David
Thoreau, M. C. Escher, and René Magritte to create his own masterpieces. D. B. Johnson and his
wife, Linda, live in New Hampshire. Visit his website at

Belgian painter René Magritte, cast here as a dog, sees in a shop window a "marvelous hat" that appears to float above his head. He buys the hat, and it floats above his head wherever he goes. The two play games, traipsing in and around the streets of Paris, and the hat proves to be substantial artistic inspiration as well. Rather than trying to explain the surreal, Johnson captures its essence, blurring the line between perception and imagination. As Magritte and his hat have their fun, we see and experience the city through the painter's originative eyes. Johnson's crisp, polished illustrations, filled with nods to the artist's iconic imagery, celebrate Magritte's clear, almost upbeat absurdity. Four acetate inserts, printed on both sides to transfigure the pages before and after, enhance the curious sense of wonder. This jovial, peculiar outing is both an accessible introduction to the painter and a winning, nonsensical adventure in its own right. An author's note offers more information about Magritte, his work, and the surrealist movement. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Johnson recasts René Magritte as a dapper, blue-eyed hound and incorporates the painter's surreal iconography into a visual tour de force. Magritte encounters a hat that, when donned, "popped up and floated just above his head." Inspired, he hurries home and paints a self-portrait, "his best picture ever." The black bowler hat (a familiar, recurrent image in Magritte's paintings) is characterized as a playful muse, engaging the artist in frisky games on walks. When, absorbed in his work, Magritte ignores it, the indignant chapeau flies away. Nine spreads depict an elaborate chase, Magritte first in pursuit, then reversing: "Bet you can't find me!" Back in Magritte's studio, the hat lands atop his head and levitates him. Working every day, never neglecting his inspiring accessory, he paints new pictures "better than his best." Johnson zealously incorporates surreal elements to tickle both art appreciators and preschoolers. Four see-through acetate pages cleverly transform adjacent spreads. Magritte's paintings are mined for dozens of images, slyly inserted. During one chase, the hat lands atop a fountain, itself shaped like a giant, water-spewing bowler. On the fountain's "brim" is inscribed, "This is not a hat"—an allusion to Magritte's painting of a pipe, famously inscribed "This is not a pipe." There are levitating baguettes, giant green apples, a monument with Magritte's birth and death dates reversed—and more. Arty, amusing and exceedingly clever. (author's note) (Picture book. 4-8) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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