The Hatmakers

Author: Tamzin Merchant Illustrator: Paola Escobar

Release date: 18.2.21 Publisher: Puffin

Rating: 5 out of 5.

‘Cordelia slid the hatpin into her hair, just as she had seen her aunt do a hundred times.

She could feel the hatpin humming with possibilities; they sang trough her hair, into her head, through her chest and right to the tips of her fingers.


It felt very Alice in Wonderland esque! The whole time I was reading it, I wanted to make a hat of my own!

The front cover immediately drew me to this book. It felt enchanting and the promise of magic had me excited for this to arrive. The colours on the cover are enticing and the light and dark is used cleverly. After reading the story, it is almost a forewarning about what is to come.

Alice in Wonderland is my favourite classic story and I felt this book had some links to Alice with the hat making (Hatter) and a young protagonist trying to put right something that had gone wrong. The links with the sailing and the story of her father strongly link the two together.

I love how this story features links to Shakespeare and Dickens too. For me, this book is so cleverly crafted that you can find elements of these classics weaved throughout. Add to this the two plots that run concurrently throughout and you’re on to a winner. There are two parts to this story that twist and link together and young Cordelia is at the heart of it.


Cordelia, the young protagonist in this story belongs to the Hatmaker family. Cordelia is strong willed and wants to become a prominent feature in the family business, and make hats. Cordelia faces a hardship early on in the story but this does not deter her. Cordelia unwittingly becomes embroiled in a situation full of mystery and deceit.

Goose, Cordelia’s best friend belongs to the Bootmaker family. Goose starts off quite timid and meek but grows in strength throughout the story. There are times when he is a hard character to like but he does redeem himself towards the end!

Sam, is my favourite character. Sam is like Dodger from Oliver and is full of surprises right until the very end. A truly intriguing character who I hope features in ‘The Mapmakers’.

Lord Witloof and Miss Starebottom, characters you will love to hate!

There are a whole host of characters within this story who help make this book a delight to read. Sir Hugo, the Shakespearean performer adds an element of humour. I like how he becomes an integral part of the story.

Features that I love…

I love the illustrations contents at the start of the book. It is a quote from the page of the book that the illustration appears on and it provides some early clues to what will occur later in the book. I also think it gives value to the images which is so important when they are integral in telling the story.

The glossary of ingredients is a LOVELY touch and would make a fantastic teaching tool! Both from the perspective of the glossary itself and what it is used for but also using the glossary to create hats of their own!

I really like when books make the reader a part of it to. There is a ‘notebook’ at the back so you, the reader, can create their own glossary of ingredients for hat making.

Something to get excited about… a sequel coming in Spring next year!

I know I will be pre-ordering it!

Ideas for this book:

Design and create your hat. This would link well with fashion and textiles and could be linked to many topics or as a stand alone unit using this book as a stimulus

Design an outfit fit for the king!

Write a letter from Princess Georgina to King Louis or vice versa

Create a wanted poster for Sam

Write a review for the show performed by Sir Hugo

Make your own 3D hat shop

Create an invitation for the show at the Guild at the end of the story

Create a map of the city

Write the story of Sam

A unit on Shakespeare or Dickens!

Share any ideas you have with us in the comments below!

Other books you might enjoy:

This book has a Brighstorm feel to it with the Guild and the different families. Also, the exploring element makes this a good match.

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