Traditional Thursday: The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins

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The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins is a Dr. Seuss book I remember from my own childhood. As a young child, I could not get enough Dr. Seuss. This book, with its text-filled pages and complex storyline, is perfect for readers who have always loved Dr. Seuss but have started to outgrow his simpler, rhyming, beginner level books.

500 Hats

Bartholomew Cubbin’s story beings with an introduction of Bartholomew and the King, who are the two main characters in the story. One day, Bartholomew heads from his small farmhouse into town to sell his family’s cranberries, which just so happens to be the day the King is also visiting town. As the King’s carriage flies by, everyone removes their hats.

3 Hats!

However, the King’s carriage stops and comes back to Bartholomew. The King accuses Bartholomew of not removing his hat, but in actuality, Bartholomew has removed it. Another hat had simply appeared on his head. The King does not know what to make of this, so he arrests Bartholomew.

King Comes to Town

Back in the castle, the King calls on a series of advisors to assist in removing Bartholomew’s hats, including a hat expert, a series of wise old men, the King’s nephew, Yeoman of the Bowmen, seven magicians and the kingdom’s executioner. However, every time a hat is knocked, shot, pushed, poked or tipped off of Bartholomew’s head, another hat appears. The kingdom’s Keeper of the Records attempts to keep count of all the hats.

Executioner

Finally, the King doesn’t know what to do anymore, and decides to push Bartholomew off the highest turret of the kingdom. Bartholomew continues to remove hats as he climbs the stairs, and at hat number 451, the hats begin to change. They become fancier!

Fancy Hats!

When the King sees hat number 500 on Bartholomew’s head, he is so taken by it that he decides to buy it from Bartholomew for 500 gold pieces. After he removes the hat from Bartholomew, his head is finally bare! The King and Bartholomew end up as unlikely friends and Bartholomew is sent home, hatless, but 500 pieces of gold richer.

Friends at last

This story is very intense at times and might be scary for young readers. At more than one point, Bartholomew almost dies. At the same time, it is a book focused on the importance of respect, which can be a difficult lesson to learn as a child. The book is entertaining, but might not be the best choice for reading in a classroom, as it includes a spanking of the bratty nephew. Overall, the book is a fun read, as long as the audience is an appropriate one.

-Anna McCarthy

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