Perfect Picture Book Friday-Mr. Zinger’s Hat

Mr. Zinger

Mr. Zinger’s Hat

Written by Cary Fagan

Illustrated by  Dusan Petricic

Tundra Books 2012

Ages 5-8

Themes: Writing, imagination, multigenerational

Synopsis: (from Booklist) Every child needs a Mr. Zinger—and his hat!—in his or her life. A contemplative, self-contained writer who wears a big black hat on his thought-gathering walks, Mr. Zinger nevertheless has time for Leo when the child’s ball misfires and sends the hat sailing. Recovering from the encounter, the kind man engages the child by asking what kind of story the retrieved hat holds. Collaborating on the tale, Mr. Zinger helps Leo use his imagination to create the story-within-a-story about a prince and a ball—both of which seem awfully familiar. Petricic’s illustrations change from loose, soft watercolors to sharply defined cartoon drawings when the two enter the realm of their shared fiction. When the dreamy washes resume, Mr. Zinger continues along his walk, while Leo pays forward the storytelling hat trick to a new playmate, this time with his own baseball cap. This book oh-so-softly brings across a sweet, multigenerational message about sharing the power of imagination.

Resources: I didn’t find resources for this book, but since this book is about a hat, imagination, and creating a story, I thought of an activity that I believe will be all kinds of fun for the classroom. Then, I am going to refer you over to Susanna’s blog for another great activity created by Susanna with a hat element suggested by me in my second activity below.

Activity1: Have the students bring a hat to school. Read Mr. Zinger’s hat. Then have students don their hats and give them a “Once upon a time” start. Have them write for five minutes, and then prepare to pass their paper to the next student. Have them remove their hats and hold them out upside down to receive the paper of their neighbor. The next student will continue the story started by the previous student. (It would be fun to have them pass hats, as well as papers, …but probably wouldn’t be too sanitary!) Continue writing and passing until the paper has been to six students. I just picked the number six randomly. You could do more or less depending on the age. Then return the paper to the original student and (1) Let them use the contributions from other students for ideas for their story or (2) Have them read the story aloud as is.

Activity 2: For this activity, you will need four hats. Over at Susanna’s blog at this exact link , she has a ready-made writing activity that we did this summer in her Short and Sweets Series. I’m just adding the hats! In her activity, Susanna had us pick four numbers for character, time, setting, and situation… but in honor of Mr. Zinger and his hat, you would use Susanna’s lists given on her website to put characters, etc. on strips of paper to go in the four hats. One for character, one for time, one for setting, and one for situation. Then the kids would chose one strip from each hat and use it to write their story. This will all make sense if you click HERE and read Susanna’s explanation and see her example. There are more examples in the comments.

Why I Like This Book: This book is all about imagination and stories…and that is why I write these reviews, and read reviews by the wonderful bloggers who contribute to Perfect Picture Book Friday. I love the multigenerational aspect in Mr. Zinger’s Hat. The interaction between the two generations is endearing and fun. This is a great book to encourage and inspire kiddos to write. The two styles of illustrations complement the text, making the story AND the story-within-the-story unique.

Susanna Leonard Hill features Perfect Picture Book Friday on her blog. This is a wonderful resource if you are wondering what books to give as gifts, needing material for a lesson, or just looking for a great book to read. Here is a list of books by category. Each book listed has a link to a review, information about that book, and resources for activities. There is also an alphabetical list.

30 thoughts on “Perfect Picture Book Friday-Mr. Zinger’s Hat

  1. Penny…awesome PPBF pick! I love the whole concept of the book..I do a series of school programs every semester (K and 1st grade)…and for this spring semester, I’ve decided to encourage the kids to think about the beginning, middle and end of the story we read (this semester it will be Knuffle Bunny)…and then they will make their own story (in pictures) dividing their drawing paper into three sections. I love the hat idea and will see if I can incorporate that into the presentation. Your activities are great…these days, with all of the electronic stuff, we need to help kids stretch their imaginations.:)


    1. Hi Vivian,
      Love Knuffle Bunny! What a fun choice for your program this spring. I like your activity, too! The hat would be fun if you can work it in. I completely agree about helping kids stretch their imaginations. Too often, the want it handed to them!


  2. This book sounds delightful, Penny! I love books that encourage imagination! And I love your activities. What a great idea to turn the Short & Sweet into a pick-out-of-the-hat game! Thanks for sharing this one – I will have to hie me to the library so I can read it!


    1. Thanks, Susanna. I appreciate the fact that I could link back to the Short and Sweet and have ready-made suggestions! (I learned a new word just now…”hie”! I had never, ever in my short-legged life heard that word. So I hurried on over to my online dictionary and increased my vocabulary 🙂


    1. Thanks, Joanna. The hat has all kinds of possibilities! It would be fun to put the hat different places in the room for story starters….like on the globe/map. The number line, etc.


  3. Chapeau or stocking,
    Ten gallon, beret.
    Whatever your hat,
    Hip hip hooray!

    Waiting for this one to come to my library – it’s on reserve! Fun choice.


  4. I always have fun watching for dominant themes on PPBF, and imagination has emerged. Love Mr. Zinger’s name and how he inspires imagination in Leo who then passes it on. And, I think both your activities are outstanding for the classroom. Great choice!


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