Spring has arrived in New England, birds and flowers abound, and with them memories of one of my favorite read-alouds. Jenny’s Hat is a spring time story, a charmingly told tale about a birthday wish.

Jenny wants a new hat and her aunt has promised to send her one for her birthday. We can only imagine Jenny’s excitement and the stunning hat she has created in her mind as she waits for the mail. It is only too clear when we see her crinkle-nosed pout that the perfectly lovely hat she pulls from the box does not begin to measure up to the hat of her dreams. Jenny’s disappointment drives her to distraction and the spring time beauty that surrounds her only makes her feels worse.

As she sighs and mumbles and loses herself in her day dreams, Ezra Jack Keats surrounds her with the beauty of the season and a constant parade of glorious hats atop the heads of the neighborhood ladies. His collages are stunning: page after page of color and texture unfold like the petals of a flower growing bolder and lovelier with each passing spring day.

It is to Jenny’s credit that she seeks solace from her disappointment by visiting her friends, the birds. They look forward to the visits of their faithful friend and the treats she brings. Her kindness is not unpaid, and Jenny finds herself the recipient of a very happy surprise.

Margaret Hannon is a homeschooling mother. She and her husband live in Bolton, MA with five of their eight children.