The Man Who Lost His Head

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image of the front cover of The Man Who Lost His HeadWhat do you think?

Isn't this a great book cover?

I love it!

A cover that is able to attract the attention of children like a powerful magnet.

But what makes this book irresistible for kids is its quirky title.

A children's book called The Man Who Lost His Head!

Imagine that.

And what is that pig doing on the cover?

And did the man really lose his head?

Why is the contour of a head still visible it in the clouds?

Well, I promise that by the end of the book you will have the answer to all of those questions that I just mentioned.

Anyway.... this is another fabulous addition from my favorite children's book set EVER.

The book set and book series in question is the amazing New York Review Children's Collection that I reviewed early on on my blog.

If you like The Man Who Lost His Head you can also check out some of my other reviews of NY Review children's books such as The Two Cars, Wolf Story, Beyond The Pawpaw Trees, Wee Gillis and The Sorely Trying Day.

But back to the present.

I rarely share the reasons why I choose a certain book for a review at a given moment, but this time I will spill the beans this time around.

My lovely daughter Mila yesterday decided it was time for her to choose a book for me to review, so I was more than happy to acquiesce.

"May I choose a book you will write about on the Internet for your hobby?"

Could I say no?

So, Mila did her best to find a book that:

a. we have already read
b. I have not reviewed yet

After almost a dozen hit and misses, Mila brought The Man Who Lost His Head to my desk.

Mila thanks for your efforts! And it was a definite yes!

Like a Jab in the Face

Surprise is the greatest gift which life can grant us.Boris Pasternak

But wait a moment.

What a coincidence. Mila brought me a book that I was leafing through myself - just the other day.

A little masterpiece dating back to 1942.

And I was marveling at one of the black and white drawings by Robert McCloskey.

I remember that for a moment I thought this must be the best illustration (see below) in children's books ever.

It packs a punch!

The image I was drooling over a couple of days ago was from the very end of the book.

Almost the last illustration.

And what a drawing!
illustration by Robert McCloskey of a boy slamming a man's head

It makes me admire Robert McCloskey even more.

These old-school illustrations from 1942 are as amazing today as back then.

But back to the story, which was created by Claire Huchet Bishop, a well known author of children's books and a leading opponent of Antisemitism.

Now thinking about this book, I realize that children's books fall into two categories:

(i) stories that satisfy the reader's curiosity after the very first reading

(ii) strange or unexpected yarns that keep you coming back for more

The Man Who Lost His Head belongs squarely in the second group of children's books.

I have the book opened in front of me on the very first page and looking at it, I cannot help but marvel.


illustration by Robert McCloskey of The Man Who List His Head
We have read this book aloud half a dozen times at least.

And still, looking at the first page I am unable to resist the magnetism of Bishop's simple and effective introduction and the raw power of the amazing illustration by McCloskey.

"Once upon a time there was a Man who lost his head".


The unnamed man sits down trying to remember where is his head, but he simply can't.

He remembers bits and pieces from yesterday, such as a memory of a distant walk, his soft and silky pig and going to the fair.

Afraid of being stopped by other people, he decides to find a stopgap head - so he chooses a pumpkin. 

The village people do not notice anything is amiss, but the man goes back to his home to choose a different head. 

This scenario repeats itself several times in even more absurd ways with the man choosing a parsnip and then a carved wooden head as a replacement for his real head. 

He then decides to trace his steps back to the pig market at the fair in an attempt to find his lost head from yesterday.
sample page from The Man Who Lost His Head

McCloskey's illustrations continue captivating the reader, while Bishop's magical prose keeps building the suspense and the book becomes more implausible by the minute. 

Hey, where is this crazy story going?, you ask yourself.

You simply cannot unhook your mind from the fate of The Man Who Lost His Head ... and the story  takes you for one more amazing spin when the man meets a boy with tousled hair.

The boy tries to help the man find some sense in the events of the day, but the story takes a dramatic twist. 

But I will leave you to read aloud the surprising ending to your dearest listeners!

The Man Who Lost His Head is available from booksellers in the US:


The Book Depository (free worldwide shipping)

and from other countries:

Amazon UK
Amazon CA
Amazon DE

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