PPBF: Caps for Sale

Author/Illustrator: Esphyr slobodkina
Publisher: W.R. Scott, 1940
Themes: peddler, monkeys, caps

Opening: Once there was a peddler who sold caps. But he was not like an ordinary peddler carrying his wares on his back. he carried them on top of his head.

Summary: (from my library’s catalog) A band of mischievous monkeys steals every one of a peddler’s caps while he takes a nap under a tree.

I picked this book because: I was inspired to give a big nod, an entire spread!, to it in my upcoming picture book, NOT ALL SHEEP ARE BORING!. Since it releases in 4 weeks I wanted to explore why the book stands as a strong childhood memory. Aesthetically the limited palette, so close to the primary colors, is pleasing and also makes it easy for kids to help count the hats – because they will want to! Perspectives are simple and easy for the very young to read. The opening lines may not be exciting for an adult, but as a kid this is how I learned what a peddler is, and carrying caps on his head for no apparent reason immediately makes him a friend! By the third page we are made aware of the problem – no buyers. After he rests by the tree the pacing has slowed enough for the reader to feel he is refreshed too, but the short sentences that follow create a new and frantic pace, and we feel his sense of worry too. “No caps.” And “then he looked up into the tree.” The reader holds their breath, “And what do you think he saw?” And is rewarded with a big spread of a tree loaded with silly monkeys donning caps! The peddler tries and tries to get them to give the caps back, with his frustration reaching a peak he throws his own cap down and the solution seems so easy! Why didn’t we remember? Monkey see, monkey do! Sooo satisfying! And we get to count the caps again to make sure they’re all there! Even now I still want to read it again!

Resources/activities: read more classics and decide why you think they have stood the test of time.

For more Perfect Picture Book Friday picks with teacher/parent resources, check out the list on Susanna Hill’s blog HERE.

13 thoughts on “PPBF: Caps for Sale

  1. What a delightful story. Clever ending. I appreciate your thorough discussion of what was happening so I understood your points. Great choice. I love old books. I have one that my grandfather had as a child, and it is falling apart. An original Return to Oz by L. Frank Baum. Cloth cover. My grandfather, mother, aunt and my brothers and sisters all signed their names in it. Can’t open it now, it will fall a part.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So, so love this book! Still have my childhood copy and you’re right. It never fails to intrigue me, even now – and I’ve read it hundreds of times 🙂 I enjoyed reading your analysis, which gave me new insights into what makes it a classic. It’s just a perfect kid-friendly book in so many ways.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi, Julie — This is all so totally charming but I am confused… where ae YOU in all of this?   What does PPBF  stand for?  Is this your blog?  Do you recommend books …Many hugs from a hot city, and love  !  Risa 


    • PPBF is Perfect Picture Book Friday, an initiative and community offering book recommendations that include resources and activities for teachers/parents. I also have info on my own books if you click on the “books” tab in the menu under the banner image. Same for examples of my artwork, though I post regular pieces on Instagram @julierowanzoch.


  4. This is so funny! I am a lot older than most of you, and whenever anyone asks me for a memory of one of my favorite PBs when I was a kid, this one is it! I never analyzed it, but I just loved it! And congrats on your upcoming book! Can’t wait!

    Liked by 1 person

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