In 1938, Esphyr Slobodkina published Caps for Sale, and today people still arrive in bookstores requesting the title. The subtitle of the book tells the entire tale – Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business. The story is simple and makes for a popular read aloud book.
One day a cap salesman decides to take after walking through the villages selling his caps. A short snooze later, he discovers all his caps have been taken – by monkeys! It isn’t until he throws down his own cap in frustration do the monkeys mimic his behavior and throw down the caps they’ve taken. Now restored of all his wares, the peddler can return to business.
Text and illustrations each take a single page. The text mirrors the picture so children can see what’s happening as they read. Slobodkina utilizes repetition so children can get the hang of what is being said and join in if their parents are reading to them. The illustrations are plain, using a small number of colors such as green, orange, white, and black, but they are also fun. The peddler doesn’t just carry his caps; he wears them on his head. Every single cap he plans to sell is stacked up and organized by color. It’s hard not to love the monkeys as they sneak around the tree and thwart the peddler with happy little smiles on their faces.
Caps for Sale is an amusing and warmhearted tale for children of 5-7. Among so many children’s books, this is one that will stick with them forever.