Here’s a book that’s perfect for the fashionista and creative types: Author Andrea Beaty and illustrator David Roberts’s (2014) Happy Birthday Madame Chapeau (Abrams Books for Young Readers). The title character is based on fashion editor Isabella Blow, who wore the designs of milliner Philip Treacy.
Here is quick plot summary: Madame Chapeau is single milliner, who designs beautiful hats for the townsfolk but who finds herself alone on her birthday. After a crow runs off with her beautiful hat, Madame Chapeau refuses townspeople’s offers to take their hat, that is, until a young girl (who just so happens to share her love of designing hats!) offers her a beautiful homemade hat. And suddenly Madame Chapeau is not so lonely on her birthday! This is a great read-aloud book for elementary-aged kids.
Usually I do not like books that rhyme. I feel that rhyming can feel a bit too forced, but Beaty’s rhymes help advance the story and do not take away from the narrative. I like the way the presentation of the words are not always linear; this helps readers empathize with Madame Chapeau.
But the illustrations really put this book over the top for me! The bright colors of the shops and houses on the first two pages are absolutely lovely. You can almost frame several of the pages (though I am not encouraging you to rip the book apart!). You can’t have a book about fashion with anything other than beautiful, artistic illustrations. And David Roberts definitely delivers.
Here’s a slideshow of some of my favorite images from the book:
Let me know what you think of Happy Birthday Madame Chapeau below!