Monday, April 1, 2013

Tom T's Hat Rack by Michelle Spry

Tom T's Hat Rack: A Story About Paying it Forward by Michelle Spry, Spry Publishing 2013 Paperback ISBN 9780988778238 .

A review I wrote for This is a chapter book for children. The main character is 10 years old and has just finished 4th grade.

I don’t read a lot of children’s books anymore now that I’m grown up and so are my children. However, I do like a well written children’s book. This one was charming with a definite message of not only ‘Paying it Foreword’ as it is stated, but the main character Shelby is presented as a friendly, helpful, loving, kind, wonderful child. While I know that there couldn’t possibly be such a perfect little girl, the message is clear. If you are friendly, helpful, kind, polite, and willing to get along with everyone including teachers, parents and older people, then others will like you and be kind and pleasant to you in return. My only concerns are for a child that is in an abusive situation that nothing works to get the abuser to be loving and kind to them. But the practicality of the message is clear. You get back the responses from others in the same way you give them.

This book delves into subject matter that many would think not appropriate for a child to know and that is her substitute grandfather, who along with his wife has been her babysitter for 10 years, develops cancer. Rather than shut Shelby out they involve her deeply into the healing process so that she can help her beloved Mr. T in any way she can. In return Mr. T gets to have a warm loving face with him during his treatments and recovering.

When Mr. T proposes that he and Shelby make a special ‘mystery’ project that summer when school is out that would help others, Shelby jumps at the chance to help. Not only does she get to help, Mr. T involves her in every step of the project from writing out the shopping list for supplies, measuring, cutting and sanding and even helping to insert screws in with a drill. All these are activities that a 10 year old can easily do with proper supervision. I think that is one of my favorite things in this book. I see so many kids who other than working cell phones or video games don’t have any practical skills of any sort any more. Hopefully this book will encourage parents and kids to get busy doing real projects, not ‘dumbed down’ ones.

Another interesting feature in the book was the first paragraph telling what Shelby’s parents did for a living so they aren’t just some amorphous beings like Charlie Brown’s adults in books and movies. They became real people.

While the book has lots of bright illustrations by Peggy A. Guest, I wasn’t impressed with them. The people's faces were rather weird looking but not so much as to detract from the book.

Proceeds from the book will be donated to the American Cancer Society.


  1. Thank you for your honest review of my book! I just hope others can find a way, big or small, to "Pay It Forward" to others. They will often find they receive just as much as they give to someone else. Truly makes my heart happy to do a random act of kindness!


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