The Party of the Hat
by Maria Elena Alcolea

"Each hat was decorated with flowers and ribbons. The children ran and hugged their parents in great happiness."

The Perezalco family lives in a small town and consists of a mom, dad, and four children who all attend the same school. Their father walks them to school each day and then works in his vegetable fields, while their mother takes care of the household and always has a hearty meal ready when the kids return. One day, the children learn at school about a contest called Party of the Hat in which each child will create a unique and festive hat to wear and share its story with the entire school. The winners will get a prize. The Perezalco children have no idea at this point just how extraordinary that prize will be. Mom and Dad use their own large hats, in combination with hats from the family’s scarecrows, and adorn them all with “the most beautiful white and colorful flowers from the garden” and “dark lilac velvet ribbons and silver-black buttons,” writes Alcolea. On the day of the contest, all the schoolchildren are excited, “wearing their hats with great pride.”

The author has written a short but very enjoyable book, which will emphasize to children the importance of family, working together, and the creativity of using that which one has (even if endowed with little money) to create wonderful things. The story is presented in both English and Spanish. The two loving parents wish to surprise their children with unique and beautiful hats—with an interesting story behind their making—and the family closeness tugs at the reader’s heartstrings as ultimately the Perezalco children win the event. Who could have imagined that their prize would be a beautiful white horse with a shining bronze saddle? The children name the horse Luz, which means Light. Indeed, this story illustrates that with love and with light, anything is possible.

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