This is a delightful story about George, a rabbit who is rather sad when we first meet him. George watches his friends enjoying painting, skating, reading and dancing but doesn’t want to join in: he just doesn’t think he can. Wise Bear is watching and decides to do something about this. She makes George a ‘magic’ hat out of folded paper. George feels confident to have a go with his magic hat on and with a bit of practice finds he can try all the things his friends are doing and have fun too. Although he doesn’t realise it, he is doing these things with and without the hat on. When the hat disappears George is worried but Bear tells him that really the magic is inside him, not the hat at all.
This is a simply lovely picture book about not being afraid to have a go at something new, persevering if new things are a bit difficult at first and having fun too.
Share the story
Before you start reading the story together look at the illustration on the cover and on the title page. The pictured character looks very different in both images, talk about this together. Read the first double page spread aloud of the story aloud, pausing to talk about all the things the animals in the forest are doing. Continue reading the rest of the story aloud, pausing if your child wants to talk about the story or illustrations.
When you read the story again together encourage your child to join in, with the repeated phrases eg ‘George did nothing’ and conversations between George and his friends in the forest.
Talk about the story
Talk about how George is feeling at different points in the story
Talk about all the things George tries out with his magic hat on
Talk about what is happening on the page where George loses his hat.
Talk about the magic hat – is it really magic?
Talk about anything your child would like to try that they haven’t done before and things they have learnt to do that were hard at first
This book was always going to be a winner as it featured a character called George. He is a rabbit whose friends are doing a variety of fun things and he doesn’t think he can, so he doesn’t join in till a wise old bear gives him a magical paper hat. He has a go and finds that with a little practice he can do everything - even when he doesn’t notice his paper hat has fallen off. It is beautifully illustrated with a very distinct colour pallet and we loved it.
My George has recently turned 3 and is keen to try new things, sometimes from the comfort of behind my legs but mainly because big sister is doing them too. He has just started swimming when she is at school and I was very surprised to see he found it very difficult to enter the water and join in the lessons. He has always loved being in water and was looking forward to the lessons, however it takes him a good portion of the lessons and some gentle coaxing from me and the instructor to come out of his comfort zone and really join in. It was really good to be able to use fiction as a way of talking through this discomfort with him and for him to see that it was typical behaviour to be wary of new experiences particularly if others seemed confident.
We had read the story a few times and made copious paper hats and had acted the story out taking turns to be wise old bear and rabbit George and talked about him not really needing the hat. George seemed to take it all in and enjoy the story and the characters’ journey. When he struggled again at swimming at half term, his sister Lizzie and I were able to make him some paper hats at the poolside and show them to him, it made him smile. We then talked about it when he got out and you can see him relating to rabbit George and taking comfort from it.
The book shows how happy George is when he opens himself up to new experiences and the animals and the things they try are really good fun. Sophy Henn illustrates the expressions on the animals so beautifully that the joy on their faces is so contagious and you want to be brave and try new things too.
The book has become a firm favourite and by delving into it deeper, acting out the story, making the hats and drawing him a certificate it is fixed in our minds and we can refer back to it. I am sure that we will be talking about rabbit George often in the future, knowing that it’s ok to be nervous when we try something but to imagine ourselves wearing our magic hat and have a go.
Things to make and do
Make a paper hat
Make a paper hat following the instructions here
You could find a soft toy to wear it a rabbit, teddy or doll.
Act out the story with toys
Collect together some soft toys to be the characters in the story and choosing one to be Bear and one to be George, wearing a folded paper hat (see above). Use the toys and tell the story together, it is fine if children use their own words for this.
Make a certificate for George
Use the template here to add a picture of George to make a well done certificate for him.
Try something new
Is there anything your child hasn’t tried (that they could try safely?!) For example riding a bike or scooter, or joining in with a swimming lesson or eating something new.
Read together Sophy Henn’s top tips for believing in yourself
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