Title: Stormy's Hat: Just Right for a Railroad Man
Author: Eric A. Kimmel
Illustrator: Andrea U'Ren
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Flesch-Kinkaid Grade Level: 3.2
Concepts: human resources, jobs, innovation, invention, entrepreneur, gender equality
Review: Although Stormy Kromer enjoyed his job as a railroad engineer, he had a persistent problem: he could not find an appropriate hat to withstand the rather harsh and varied conditions of operating a locomotive. A light derby hat blew off, a wide cowboy hat got in the way, a paper pressman’s hat caught on fire, and a heavy fireman’s hat gave him a headache. Unfortunately Stormy listened only to his friends’ suggestions and initially failed to notice that Ida, his wife and a skilled seamstress, had some excellent ideas for putting an end to his difficulties. Ida’s ideas led her to create a new canvas hat that satisfied Stormy’s criteria and became the foundation of a new business producing hats for railroad workers everywhere.
This unique book, based on actual events, has a light-hearted tone but a serious set of lessons in economics about innovation, entrepreneurship, human resources, and jobs. Ida saw a need, thought creatively about how to design a product to meet that need, and together with Stormy adopted a business plan to mass-produce that item. The story also teaches children about a variety of jobs within and outside the railroad industry. Not to be lost in the mix is an important lesson about gender equality. Stormy’s dismissive treatment of Ida proved counterproductive; only when he listened to her demands to be heard did the problem get resolved.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children