The Hatmakers

by Tamzin Merchant (Author) Paola Escobar (Illustrator)

The Hatmakers
Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade

The most important rule to follow when you hunt for hat ingredients is this: keep wildness in your wits and magic in your fingertips.

In Cordelia's London, magic is real and is woven into objects created by the five Maker families: the Hatmakers, the Bootmakers, the Watchmakers, the Cloakmakers, and the Glovemakers. Growing up in her father Prospero's footsteps, eleven-year-old Cordelia Hatmaker has learned the family's ancient skills and secrets so she can one day make her own enchanted hats.

When Prospero and his ship are lost at sea during an important ingredient expedition, her grief-stricken aunt and uncle must turn their attention toward fulfilling a decree to create a Peace Hat for the king. But Cordelia refuses to accept that her father is gone for good and desperately begins making plans to find him. Then, the Peace Hat is stolen--along with the Peace Boots, Watch, Cloak, and Gloves--and Cordelia realizes that there is a more menacing plot against the Makers' Guild, and that Prospero Hatmaker's disappearance may be connected. Cordelia must uncover the truth about who is behind the thefts if she is to save the Makers and find out what really happened to her father.

Full of magic, surprise, and adventure, Tamzin Merchant's sparkling debut introduces a captivating heroine and her extraordinary world.

School Library Journal

Gr 3-6--A challenging but innocent fantasy. Cordelia Hatmaker comes from a long line of magical Hatmakers, who create hats that encourage the wearer to adopt a specific mood or take a certain action. There are love hats, confidence hats, and more. When Cordelia's father is lost at sea as he attempts to return with a vital ingredient for a hat for the king, and the other "makers" in town are burgled, Cordelia must save the kingdom. This whimsical story is full of fun nonsense, but the vocabulary is surprisingly complex. The simple mystery and uncomplicated emotional elements seem at odds with the length of the book. This novel would be ideal for younger elementary students who are reading at a high level. However, most students will grow out their desire for whimsy and innocence before they are ready for the complex vocabulary and length. VERDICT An additional purchase.--Jeri Murphy, C.F. Simmons M.S., Aurora, IL

Copyright 2021 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

In the Hatmaker House in London, everyone except for Cordelia Hatmaker, 11, believes that her father, Captain Prospero Hatmaker, was lost at sea during "an ingredient-hunting expedition" for hat components. Sending a quest pigeon with a note, Cordelia remains optimistic; after all, her father's adventurous life has inspired her own. Cordelia and her family make up the Hatmaker Guild, which serves the Crown by creating magical hats that influence behavior. But trouble brews in England, as King George's bizarre recent impulses have increased tensions with France. Commissioned to create Peace Clothes along with the other Maker families (Bootmakers, Cloakmakers, Watchmakers, and Glovemakers), and faced with the threat of being banned from making anything ever again, the Hatmakers hope to help prevent conflict before King Louis declares war on England. But the Guilds have never excelled at collaboration, a burglar lurks, and an evil figure looms. Merchant's action-packed, intricately described debut relies on fantasy tropes--the princess in distress, the threat of winding up in the Tower of London, and good versus evil--making characters and plot feel thin, but readers new to the genre may find this an engaging endeavor. Back matter includes a detailed glossary of ingredients for apprentice hatmakers. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 9-12. (Feb.)

Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

A swashbuckling romp for lovers of history and magic.— "Kirkus Reviews"
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
February 20, 2021
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, 01/01/21

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