On Caps for Sale

Oh, CAPS FOR SALE, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

This has got to be one of the most well-loved books on our bookshelf. Surprising, considering it breaks one of the major picture book writing rules, which is that the main character should never be an adult. But guess what, folks, there isn’t a child to be seen anywhere in this book! But there are monkeys. Oh, the monkeys! Now be warned, you will have to explain to the children you read it to exactly what a peddler is. And you will have to convince them that although yes, they do have 50 cents in their piggy-bank, that no, it will no longer buy them a gray, brown, blue, red, or even a checked cap.

CAPS FOR SALEA Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business

    • Written and Illustrated by: Esphyr Slobodkina
    • Published by: HarperCollins Publishers, September 1987 (originally published in 1938)
    • Suitable for: ages 4-8
    • Topics/Themes: Folktale, Humor, Monkeys!
  • Opening/Synopsis: 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. First he had on his own checked cap, then a bunch of gray caps, then a bunch of brown caps, then a bunch of blue caps, and on the very top a bunch of red caps.”

One day, when a peddler isn’t having any luck selling his caps, he takes a nap under a tree. Mischief ensues when some monkeys decide to test his wares, and the peddler wakes up to find his caps missing.

  • Links to Resources: There are so many lessons plans online and available for use with this book! One that was really cute was this printable template to make construction paper caps. I also found a whole downloadable unit that covers so many aspects of the story, including cap counting, how to identify 50 cents, and even a recipe for banana treats!
  • Why I like this book: This book is so simple, and yet so fun! The best thing about it is that it is a great read-aloud. My kids always shout with me, “You monkeys, you!” and shake their fingers and stomp their feet in time with the peddler. Then they giggle as they imitate the monkeys’ reply of, “Tsz, tsz, tsz.” The juxtaposition of the grumpy peddler and the silly monkey antics is just perfect. Folktales are not usually my first choice, but this one really is delightful.

To take a look at more Perfect Picture Books, visit Susanna Leonard Hill’s fabulous blog here.

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