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Vintage Book Review for K-1 English Teachers: Belinda’s New Spring Hat

written by: S.S. Caine • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 9/11/2012

Eleanor Clymer’s whimsical story, “Belinda’s New Spring Hat,” is a wacky romp of a tale with subtle though invaluable and timeless morals. Though written in the 1960’s, this vintage book promises great fun and great relevancy for K-1 students.

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    Often, the analysis that goes into a book review can lend itself to a dissection of a book’s story structure. This book review provides a recommendation of a fun teaching tool in addition to an outline for discussing with your K-1 students the structure of the story in question.

    I. Synopsis – “Belinda’s New Spring Hat” by Eleanor Clymer

    Walking down the street one day, Belinda notices several women in spring hats and decides she wants one. Her mother says she’ll buy her one but not right away; she’ll have to wait. After a few days, Belinda begins shopping for a hat herself around the house, but she can’t seem to find one that works. One day when she thinks she’s found the perfect hat—actually, a flower pot—her father comes home with what he calls a flower pot for her mother’s flowers. Since it bears a striking resemblance to a spring hat, they decide to trade: Belinda wears the new flower pot that looks like a spring hat and her father agrees to put flowers in Belinda’s makeshift spring hat that looks a lot like a flower pot.

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    dreamstimefree 67795 II. Structural Breakdown

    • Protagonist Want - Belinda wants to be like the women she sees on the street and get a new spring hat.
    • Obstacle or Conflict - Her mother has told her to wait. Additionally, since she’s unwilling to do so, she must find a hat herself, and none of her choices work out successfully.
    • Resolution - After a while, Belinda’s father brings her a real spring hat that she trades for one of her makeshift ones. After going over the story structure with students, discuss the morals of the story, which are truly timeless.
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    III. Timeless Morals, Relationship/Relevance to Modern Times

    • Patience is a virtue, everything works out in the end if you exercise it. Instead of wanting to look like others, celebrate and find a way to express your own uniqueness.
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    IV. Other Lessons Taught

    • Trade can be good, mutually beneficial.
    • The story also hints at the malleability of language, and that can encourage good creative writing. “Belinda’s New Spring Hat” can serve as a good introduction to a lesson on similes and metaphors. For example, a writer can call a hat a flower pot or any number of things besides a “hat.” In that, this story can enhance students’ creative vision, broaden their perspectives.
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    V. Any Challenges the Stories May Present

    • Belinda’s actual garnering of a “real spring hat” at the end, the likes of which the women on the street wear, somewhat undercuts the “express your own uniqueness” message, which is my favorite poetic extraction from the story. That said, some consolation stands with the language that Belinda is “wearing the flower pot.”
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    VI. Other Notable Attributes

    • The quirky exchange and relationship dynamic between Belinda and her father is charming.
    • The story is written with an acute attention to rhythm that can draw K-1 students in easily.

    Photo © Bobby Deal

Vintage Tales, Timeless Values: Early Reader Book Reviews

These book reviews are of vintage (or somewhat older and obscure) tales that offer timeless moral lessons and may help educators teach early readers that “old stories” are not so boring. Nor are they so different from the “new” stories of their young lives.
  1. Vintage Book Review for K-1 English Teachers: The Little Red Flower
  2. Vintage Book Review for K-1 English Teachers: The One in the Middle is the Green Kangaroo
  3. Vintage Book Review for K-1 English Teachers: Belinda’s New Spring Hat
  4. Vintage Book Review for K-1 English Teachers: All the Lassies
  5. Vintage Book Review for K-1 English Teachers: Not This Bear!