Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler


I love this book.  I remember it from when I was a child.  We didn’t own a copy of this book, but I first experienced it on mornings before school in the mid-60s when Captain Kangaroo read it to us all via his childrens’ television program.  I remember the pages would shake when the peddler would shake his finger at the monkeys.

I wish that we had a copy of this when I was a kid. The author’s name is so great  – Esphyr Slobodkina   – I would have love trying to say that name then (because I have so much fun saying it now).

This is a book that I give as a gift to new parents.  It is not one in the usual pile of “books for new parents,” but it should be.  There is a lot to love here.  There is a wonderful physicality to the story.  The peddler has a tall pile of caps on his head.  The idea of walking with that pile of caps and not having them fall off or the pile fall over is already fun to try to imagine.  That the peddler is tired is no surprise. And then there are those monkeys!

Where could this story be set with this man, these trees, and monkeys?  And who cares? The charm of this story is in the wonderful repetition, the escalating reactions of the peddler and the monkeys, and the ah ha! solution – monkey see, monkey do!

Between the phrase, “You monkeys, you…” and “tzt tzt tzt” – this is a story with enough repetition that pre-readers can join in with parents “reading the story,” and it is one of those books with a small enough vocabulary to encourage early readers.


The author and artist, the aforementioned Slobodkina, was a founding member of the American Abstract Artists (with de Kooning and Pollock) and a pioneer in abstract art in this country.

It may not sell as well as The Cat in the Hat, but I like this headwear story infinitely better.

Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Matt Tabor says:

    Our local library had the “large” print of this book. Probably 2 feet tall. It was perfect for reading to a group of kids. The library also had a copy of the same version of Stone Soup the Captain read.

    1. Kate Tabor says:

      Stone Soup! We didn’t read that one to the girls much, but I loved that book!

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