The Upside Down Hat
A New York Times Best Illustrated Book of 2022
The Little Prince meets Journey in this gorgeous, reassuring picture book fable about loss, perseverance, and finding what matters most.
What happens to a boy who has nothing but a hat? Everything.
A boy wakes up one morning and finds that everything he owns has gone missing. With nothing but a simple green hat, the boy journeys through distant landscapes, searching high and low for the things he has lost. Along the way he discovers that perhaps everything he needs has been with him all along.
Stephen Barr makes his debut in this achingly poignant and deeply profound fable of one boy's adventure to recover his life's treasures. With vibrant illustrations by Gracey Zhang and a subtle message about hopeful perseverance, this book is an exquisite, emotional journey through loss, persistence, and discovering what's truly essential.
TIMELESS PICTURE BOOK: Deeply reflective, sparingly written, and beautifully illustrated, this tale will strike a chord with its poignant storytelling. It's a picture book for any reader, of any age, at any time.
A FABLE FOR THE AGES: Reminiscent of the stories of Aesop's Fables, this book touches on universal themes of the human condition and shares a heartfelt message that is effortless but hopeful. Readers will come away thinking differently about what they own, what they need, and what they hold most dear.
NEW VOICE IN CHILDREN'S BOOKS: Debut author Stephen Barr brings years of experience working with authors as a literary agent to craft this gem of a picture book that will resonate with fans of classic children's stories.
IMMERSIVE ILLUSTRATION: Gracey Zhang's spellbinding art illuminates every step of the story, immersing the reader in a gorgeously rendered world that feels familiar yet utterly unique.
• Parents interested in teaching their kids about loss and gratitude
• Children who like fables/myths
• Readers who love losing themselves in immersive picture book art
• Readers looking for a modern classic picture book
• Fans of William Steig, Erin and Philip Stead, and the Chronicles of Narnia
• Educators and librarians looking for a magical, engaging read-aloud
Praise for The Upside Down Hat
“[I]n this meandering fable by debut author Barr. . . . [s]pare narration and subtle themes of hope and dedication guide the child forward . . . Zhang’s (Nigel and the Moon) characteristic style, rendered in ink, gouache, and watercolor, portray a brown-skinned cast against a vividly colored landscape of deserts, broken Grecian columns, cherry trees, and bustling open-air markets in this picture book about contentment amid loss.”—Publishers Weekly
“Debut author Barr keeps the language simple and lyrical. Watercolor illustrations vibrating with wobbly lines suggest life and motion . . . The last double-page spread . . . depicting the boy on stilts clomping into the distance wearing the hat while his avian friends play in a birdbath, is a joyous conclusion . . .”—Kirkus Reviews
"A lullingly spare story . . . with exquisite, Bemelmans-like illustrations . . . With contrails of The Little Prince and magic-carpet colors, even adults will be transported." —The New York Times