You don’t have to be familiar with artist René Magritte’s work to appreciate Magritte’s Marvelous Hat by D.B. Johnson. His homage to Magritte is a wonderful introduction to surreal artwork for the preschool to elementary school set. In this book, with all canine characters, Magritte is a painter who buys a magical hat that floats just above his head. The hat stays with Magritte as he heads home and is inspired to paint his best work ever. He has fun with his hat, playing hide and seek and walking through the park. When he starts painting day and night, the hat feels neglected and runs away.
The story is charming, but it is the illustrations that will wow the reader. Inspired by Magritte’s surreal paintings, the book is filled with references to his greatest works. Readers will be tickled to look into the fish market and see an ocean with fish clouds above. Did you notice that it is raining under the umbrella? Does the reflection in the mirror seem “off”? Johnson includes four transparent overlay pages that further delight. With its bright, bold illustrations, Magritte’s Marvelous Hat is a visual treat for any age. Take your time, and let your young reader really absorb the artwork. They’ll have fun picking out what’s wrong(?) and maybe they’ll ask for a book about Magritte's art!