The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins

November 14, 2016
Subheader: 

Anticlimactic book that could have had a message.

Review: 

Hm. This is the same kid as Bartholomew and the Oobleck, but in contrast to that book, it doesn't seem to have much of a point. It starts out having a point and then kind of loses track of it halfway through.

There's a little boy named Bartholomew Cubbins, and he is going to the city to sell his cranberries. As he reaches the city gates, a procession passes by with the king's carriage, and everybody takes off their hats. Bartholomew takes off his hat, but the king stops his carriage, goes back and gets mad at him, because despite the fact that he took off his hat, there's still a hat on his head. He says, "Take off your hat! Respect me! I'm the king!" And so he takes off the hat, and there's yet a third hat on his head. And the king says, "Arrest him! We'll teach him to take off his hat!" And they come to the palace and he keeps trying to take off his hat and a new hat keeps appearing on his head, and there's a bajillion hats everywhere. The king calls in smart people, people who know about hats, magicians, and tries to have him executed but the executioner can't chop off his head because he's not allowed to unless the person isn't wearing a hat. Eventually the king just decides to push him off the top of a tower, climbing the stairs as Bartholomew is frantically tearing hats from his head in an attempt to save his own life. As the number of hats reaches close to 500, they start changing instead of being identical, now looking more and more intricate. With the 500th one, the king is so impressed by the hat that he offers to buy it for 500 gold. Bartholomew agrees, takes it off and gives it to him, and realizes he's no longer wearing a hat. So it was actually 500 hats exactly, and then the king takes all the hats and puts them on display and nobody knows why it happened and that's the end.

It kind of felt like it was starting to have a message about how obeisance to a king isn't a good thing, like the king is too proud and is punishing people for not being respectful of him, when he's just basically a rich guy. It kind of seems like it's going to go in that direction, but then it just doesn't. The resolution of the king buying the last hat is just out of nowhere and doesn't mean anything. It's a strange ending to have in something that seemed like it was going to have a moral.

Message: 

None.

Author
Publication Year
  • 1938
Age Range
Age Range: 
5-9
Number of Pages
Number of Pages: 
64
Number of Words on Typical Page
Number of Words: 
140

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