Caps for Sale is a timeless classic beloved by generations of readers—now celebrating its 75th anniversary!
If you haven’t heard of the book, Caps for Sale, it is going to be a tall order for me to explain the significance of this book to you. BUT – I like a challenge, so I’ll give it a shot. Caps for Sale was first published in 1938 by the famous Ms. Esphyr Slobodkina. Since then it has sold more than two million copies and is today considered a children’s book classic as generation after generation pass the story along to new readers. It ranks in sales with such classics like Good Night Moon (who, interestingly, Margaret Wise Brown was one of Esphyr’s good friends and a frequent collaborator). According to Publisher’s Weekly, Slobodkina won a Lewis Carroll Shelf Award in 1958 and well as being memorialized in a painting by Ms. Slobodkina on permanent exhibition in the West Hartford Library, CT.
Ms. Slobodkina took her responsibility as a children’s book author seriously. In her memoir she wrote: “The verbal patterns and the patterns of behavior we present to children in these lighthearted confections are likely to influence them for the rest of their lives. These aesthetic impressions, just like the moral teachings of early childhood, remain indelible.”
There is so much more I could write about Esphyr, especially her work in abstract art, but I’m going to include it in the “About the Author” section below for your reading pleasure and get on to reviewing this book!
Caps for Sale is an excellent easy-to-read book that includes repetition, patterns, and colors that are perfect for early readers which is why it is continually used in classrooms around the world. The story focuses on a peddler of caps and a band of mischievous monkeys who find hiding the peddler’s caps to be very amusing. The story is silly, warm, and simple which teaching children problem solving and word repetition. For 75 years, children have delighted in seeing how the peddler tries to outwit the monkeys and are sure to ask to read and re-read the book over and over again.
Bonus! This book supports the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts.
Even More Exciting News!
More Caps for Sale: Another Tale of Mischievous Monkeys Hardcover (List Price: $ 18.99)
In celebration of the 75th anniversary of Caps for Sale comes the never-before-published sequel called More Caps For Sale. More Caps For Sale is based on ideas discussed by Ann Marie Mulhearn Sayer of the Slobodkina Foundation and Slobodkina prior to her passing in 2002. The two women were close friends and business associates and this sequel reflects hours of conversations between the two women and Sayer took great care in making each page to her friend’s perspective and choices in stylization. The sequel creates the same humor and uses original art and captivating text chosen by Sayer. More Caps for Sale is based on story ideas from Slobodkina’s and Sayer’s imaginations with prior permission from Slobodkina. The theme of More Caps for Sale is not only a continuation of Caps for Sale, but is also woven from concepts present in Slobodkina’s first illustrated children’s book, Mary and the Poodies (unpublished). In Mary and the Poodies, Mary inadvertently learns good behavior by mimicking her imaginary friends, ‘The Poodies‘. In More Caps for Sale, the mindful monkeys watch the Peddler and unintentionally learn proper conduct.
“During my years working with the indomitable and brilliant Esphyr Slobodkina, she became both friend and mentor to me, ” says Ann Marie Mulhearn Sayer, President, Slobodkina Foundation. “More Caps For Sale was a joy to create, and I am thrilled to bring new life to Esphyr’s characters through modern technology. The story is timeless, and now the adventures continue for the peddler, and of course those monkeys.”
About Ann Marie Mulhearn Sayer: Ann Marie Mulhearn Sayer is the President of the Slobodkina Foundation. Sayer met Esphyr Slobodkina in 1996, when she was hired to write musical narratives for Caps For Sale and other Slobodkina books. Slobodkina and Sayer became close friends, and Sayer has administered and exhibited Slobodkina’s works for over eighteen.
About the Author: Esphyr Slobodkina, pronounced ess-FEER sloh-BOD-kee-nah, (September 22, 1908 – July 21, 2002) was a popular artist, author, and illustrator, best known for her classic children’s picture book, Caps for Sale. Esphyr was born in the Siberian town of Chelyabinsk and immigrated to the United States on a student visa at the age of 29. She enrolled at the National Academy of Design, NYC, and in the 1930s, she worked painting lamp shades and soon after murals for the WPA. Esphyr was a founding member of the American Abstract Artists, which began amid controversy in 1936. In 1937 Slobodkina met the children’s author Margaret Wise Brown (ahem of Goodnight Moon fame!). In an effort to find work as an illustrator, Slobodkina wrote and illustrated a story with collage called Mary And The Poodies to present to Brown. This began a new career for Slobodkina, who illustrated many children’s stories for Ms. Brown (including Sleepy ABCs and the Big and Little series) while still continuing her work as an abstract artist.
In her autobiography, Ms. Slobodkina wrote, “When Margaret died, I was left without a writer, and since she always insisted that she liked the way I told my stories, I took a deep breath and began to send them to my agent.” Famed artist and author Esphyr Slobodkina was a leader of the abstract movement in the United States from the 1930s until her death at age 93 in July 2002. Slobodkina’s works have received high acclaim. Her paintings, sculptures and literary works are part of the collections of The Metropolitan Museum, NY; The National Gallery in Washington, D.C; The Smithsonian; The Hecksher Museum, L.I., NY (where she has a permanent wing); The Whitney Museum, NY; The Wadsworth Museum, Hartford, CT; The Northeast Children’s Literature Collection, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT; and more.
List Price: $ 17.99 (Currently on sale at Amazon.com for $ 13.42)