The King of the Beasts lay abed with the flu, and, calling his family around said,
“I’m very afraid I can’t lead the parade.”
“Someone kingly but cool must be found.”
Said Princess Amanda,
“ I know of a Panda who’s kingly and cool in his way.
He has a singular flair and an elegant air - he could play being Prince for a day.”
A delighted Panda, Bygumbo, is in full agreement to the plan outlined in the excerpt above, with his only requirement being the need for a “Spectacular Hat’, and of course ….a Bamboo breakfast and lunch. With time being short, the Princess insists that Panda has to prioritize, because other things must get done and he will have to forgo food and find time to choose his own hat. The primping of Panda takes place, but his mind is firmly elsewhere.
As Panda then turns his focus on hats, many types of hats are presented as possibilities. All are rejected for various reasons. Only one type catches Panda’s eye, a straw panama hat which appeals to his empty stomach and is promptly eaten. More hats appear and are donned while Panda is having trouble concentrating because of his rumbling tummy. An inspired suggestion from the hatter saves the day and leads to a successful parade.
Bygumbo’s rhyming text is accompanied by watercolour and pencil drawings that are full of joy. The colourful and expressive illustration are quite comical, and the hats are delightfully presented and labelled for the reader. Many parts of the text are boldly highlighted to help the early reader identify special words in this story. The bright and engaging pictures serve the lighthearted and playful text very well. The author and illustrator have successfully collaborated in another picture book, Hazel’s Rainbow Ride.
The end of the story includes an explanation of new and fun words used in the story.
Reesa Cohen is a retired Instructor of Children’s Literature and Information Literacy at the Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Manitoba.