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Children's Fiction Boys & Men

Mr. Zinger's Hat

by (author) Cary Fagan

illustrated by Dusan Petricic

Initial publish date
May 2017
Boys & Men, Clothing & Dress, Friendship
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 2017
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 4 to 6
  • Grade: p to 1


This critically-acclaimed picture book by award-winning author Cary Fagan is about stories and story-telling, and is sure to entertain children at home and at school for years to come.

This is the story of a bored little boy, who meets a man, and together they build a story. This story within a story is charming and changes both their lives . . . and quite possibly the reader's as well.

Cary Fagan's charming tale, complemented by the imaginative illustrations of artist Duan Petricic, will delight
young readers who enjoy spinning their own.

About the authors

Cary Fagan is the author of eight previous novels and five books of short stories, including The Student, Great Adventures for the Faint of Heart, and A Bird's Eye. He has been nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Writers' Trust Fiction Award, the Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction, and has won the Toronto Book Award and the Canadian Jewish Book Award for Fiction. He is also an acclaimed writer of books for children, having won the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award, the IODE Jean Throop Book Award, a Mr. Christie Silver Medal, the Joan Betty Stuchner—Oy Vey!—Funniest Children's Book Award, and the Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People. Fagan's work has been translated into French, Italian, German, Dutch, Spanish, Catalan, Turkish, Russian, Polish, Chinese, Korean and Persian. He still lives in his hometown of Toronto.

Cary Fagan's profile page

Duan Petricic was born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, but loved to pretend that he grew up in Zemun, an old city located just across the river (and now a part of Belgrade). As a boy he did all the forbidden things that children do, but what Duan loved most was to draw. He started drawing at age four and, encouraged by his parents, he never stopped. He found inspiration in everything, and drawing became a way to communicate with the people around him. Two books that were very important to his childhood were an old encyclopedia with lots of pictures and The Boys from Pavel’s Street by Ferenc Molnár. Early on, he was moved by the drawings found within the encyclopedia. As he grew older, he adored many artists, including Leonardo da Vinci, Dürer, and Picasso. Duan has been illustrating children’s books for many years. He has received numerous honors and awards for his work, in North America and internationally, including an IBBY Certificate of Honour and an Alberta Book Award for On Tumbledown Hill (Red Deer Press). The Longitude Prize (FSG) was selected as a Robert F. Siebert Honor Book for a Distinguished Informative Book for Children in the US. His beautiful, evocative illustrations for Mattland (2009) by Hazel Hutchins and Gail Herbert garnered Duan the Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator’s Award from the Canadian Library Association as well as the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award. His illustrations for Better Together (2011) by Sheryl and Simon Shapiro were described as “sublime” by Kirkus Reviews. When it came time to reissue Robert Munsch’s Mud Puddle (2012), Duan was Annick’s first choice to reillustrate the classic. The results are a fresh and energetic look that will delight a whole new generation of young Munsch fans. Duan’s latest book, The Man with the Violin (2013), was greeted with rave reviews, including starred reviews in Kirkus and uill & uire. Written by Kathy Stinson, this beautifully evocative picture book tells the true story of world-renowned violinist, Joshua Bell, who conducted an experiment by anonymously playing his priceless violin in the Washington D.C. subway station. Luckily for Duan, his profession is his favorite hobby and he is happy when at work. To young artists he would give this advice: “Think, think, think, think, draw!” Duan lives in Toronto where he is a regular contributor as an editorial cartoonist in the Toronto Star.

Dusan Petricic's profile page

Editorial Reviews

SELECTION - "The Next Chapter with Shelagh Rogers" Winter Children's Book Panel, 2012
SELECTION - TVO Parents Top 10 Summer Reading List for Ages 6-8, 2012
SELECTION - Today’s Parents 100 Best Canadian Kids’ Book of All Time, 2012

PRAISE FOR Mr. Zinger's Hat:

"Petričić .... expertly evokes the episode's understated warmth while cranking up the visual appeal with a set of distinctly delineated central characters interacting comfortably with one another. A thoroughly engaging addition to the shelf of stories about story making." --Kirkus Reviews

"Petričić uses simple outlines and candy colors for the story within-a-story and somber shades and cross-hatching for the scenes of Mr. Zinger and Leo – so distinct are the styles, they could easily be the work of two separate, equally accomplished illustrators. . . Fagan’s dialogue moves smartly.” --Publishers Weekly

"Mr. Zinger’s Hat is a wonderful story about the shared process of creating . . . a story! . . . It is a charming illustration of creative interaction." --CM Magazine

"Every child needs a Mr. Zinger – and his hat! – in his or her life . . . This book oh-so-softly brings across a sweet, multigenerational message about sharing the power of imagination.” --Booklist

Librarian Reviews

Mr. Zinger’s Hat

“Don’t disturb Mr. Zinger. He’s making up stories. He’s working.” These cautionary words are spoken by a mother to her son, Leo, as he plays ball in the courtyard where Mr. Zinger, a renowned writer, walks and muses. One afternoon, the youngster’s ball accidentally knocks Mr. Zinger’s hat off his head. When Leo returns the hat, the elderly storyteller examines the inside of it to see what made it fly off. “I can see it now,” he declares. “It’s a story. A story trying to get out.”

And so Mr. Zinger begins with “Once upon a time there was a man...” As the tale unfolds, Leo’s interjections and suggestions gradually transform the narrative. Without his knowing, Mr. Zinger has adroitly encouraged the lad to contribute the significant details. The man becomes a boy, a boy who is bored... and rich... and lonely... until he makes friends with another boy named Leo. As they part at the story’s conclusion, Leo asks Mr. Zinger if he will write about Leo and the rich boy. “No,” the old man replies. “That’s not my story, that’s your story. But maybe another story will try and get out of my hat. There’s no end of them, you know.”

Mr. Zinger’s Hat is a marvelous story, beautifully crafted by Cary Fagan. The distinctive personalities of the two protagonists, as well as the humour and poignancy of their situation, are expertly depicted in a most charming manner. The exchange between the elderly author and the boy is so vivid, that it feels as if one is eavesdropping on a real conversation. This is exceptional writing!

Dušan Petričić’s delightful watercolour illustrations provide the perfect accompaniment to the text. Two distinct styles are interwoven throughout. The sombre tonality depicted in the scenes between Mr. Zinger and Leo is juxtaposed against the bright, cartoon- like approach used to illustrate the story they create together.

Readers and listeners alike will be captivated and inspired by Mr. Zinger’s Hat, which not only recognizes the power of words and the imagination, but celebrates a budding friendship spanning generations.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Fall 2012. Volume 35 No. 4.

Other titles by Cary Fagan

Other titles by Dusan Petricic