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Caps for Sale #1

Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business

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Caps for Sale is a timeless classic beloved by millions...one of the most popular picture books ever published!

Children will delight in following the peddler’s efforts to outwit the monkeys and will ask to read it again and again. Caps for Sale is an excellent easy-to-read book that includes repetition, patterns, and colors, perfect for early readers.

This tale of a peddler and a band of mischievous monkeys is filled with warmth, humor, and simplicity and also teaches children about problem and resolution.

48 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1940

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Esphyr Slobodkina

33 books42 followers

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5 stars
44,900 (48%)
4 stars
24,742 (26%)
3 stars
16,950 (18%)
2 stars
4,322 (4%)
1 star
1,478 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,697 reviews
Profile Image for Brina.
933 reviews4 followers
March 6, 2016
There once was a peddler who sold caps...he walked through town calling "Caps, caps for sale, fifty cents a cap." A timeless classic that we have probably read 100 times and one of all of our favorite books. This time I read it to my daughter's class. I had them play the role of the monkeys and they had much fun acting out their parts. And in the end the peddler walked back to town calling "caps, caps for sale, 50 cents a cap."
Profile Image for Calista.
4,069 reviews31.3k followers
August 14, 2018
Wow! The kids really loved this one. They went crazy over it. I think it's the monkeys. They laughed and go around saying tsk tsk tsk now. I enjoyed this a lot too. I would give it 4 stars, but they got into it so much that I have to give it 5.

The art feels pretty bland to me, not distinctive and yet the story is compelling. Something about all the monkeys in the trees. I don't really understand why this story works, it just does.

This was recommended to me by a Goodreads user - Thank you kindly. I'm glad I read it. I think it would mean more if I read it in my childhood, but my niece and nephew really loved it.
Profile Image for Matt.
3,820 reviews12.8k followers
August 14, 2017
A classic story that I first remember seeing on Reading Rainbow many moons ago. A hat peddler travels through town, trying to sell his wares. With no one around to make a purchase, he decides to take a nap under a tree and hope that sales will pick up in the afternoon. However, upon waking up, his hats of all colours are gone. He soon locates the thieves in the same tree that allowed him to rest, but it will take some cunning behaviours to ensure that the hats return to the peddler in time for him to make a few sales before the sun goes down. Neo laughed when he saw what happened to the peddler and got a chuckle out of how things were handled. He asked me why we do not see hat peddlers walking around and selling things in town. I reminded him of the commercialization of the big box stores that try to stomp out the little guy. He nodded and went back to looking for peddlers on the sidewalk ;-)
Profile Image for Kim.
286 reviews792 followers
June 6, 2009
I've had this touch of nostalgia lately...so, tonight I came across this book and I thought 'What the hell, why not review it and subject the GR community to my musings'--Keep in mind that it's 4:13am and I've had a shitty night.

That said, Caps for Sale was a favorite of mine when I was young. I'd hunt down all the hats in our house and try to recreate the peddler's walk during one of my mom's work parties. This was the 70s and my mom's friends were of a uh... different sort... let's just say, lots of drinking and bell bottoms and white men with afros, I'm sure hallucinogenics played some sort of role. Of course, we weren't much of a 'cap' family... I usually wore skull caps, plastic visors, big floppy straw hats, the occasional beer helmet... then I'd strut around bellowing 'caps for sale!' 'caps for sale!' Some relative or stoned out friend of the family would take pity on me and flip me a nickel and soon the whole room would be wearing my creations.

Ahh... good times.

Then, Carol, my one true college friend, (I was shy, okay?) gave me a copy. This was her favorite book, too. I hadn't read it in years and instantly the above memories came into play. Now, living through Reagan and Bush #41, I had a different take on the whole russian peddler. I took pity on this proletariat and his need to sell caps to support his family. And when no one is buying, the bastards, he's so distraught he collapses from exhaustion only to find a band of monkees (hmmm... a lousy euphemism, perhaps?) steals his caps and refuse to give them back until he admits defeat and then they mimic him and he's able to fall on his knees and collect his wares. Yeah, so I had lofty ideas back then. It was college.

Then, tonight... I'm reunited with this book, once again. Only this time I'm in the emergency room observing a 14 yr old alcoholic who's alone and in crisis and waiting for someone to help her. Not a stitch of family around, obviously in distress, and I'm listening to her read Caps for Sale for the first time. I cannot even imagine what this poor girl has seen in her short life, I can't begin to relate...I'm sure that there are no relatives willing to further her imagination on. I'm sure she's not imagining a whole alter reality for this capsman and his band of monkees. She's looking at me as the sheriff places her in ankle chains and tosses the book aside on his way out.

Yeah, not your typical review, but just a thought on how one book can mean so much and so little to two very different girls. It's almost daybreak, I'm going to sleep now. I pray that I don't dream about monkeys.
Profile Image for Calista.
4,069 reviews31.3k followers
January 21, 2022
There are 4 books in this series and I've read the first one and now the last. Now, Esphyr did not write this, it looks like, but her illustrator, Ann Marie Mulhearn Sayer, did. Ann Marie, seems to have the heart of the story, for the most part. I enjoyed the end page where Ann is talking about the stories. She pulled in characters from other stories Esphyr has told and Esphyr is a character - an artist painting a picture in the story named Essie, which I enjoy things like that.

The monkeys are back bothering the man who sales caps. This time, they simply watch him and follow him around. In the end, they are very helpful.

The artwork feels spot on. I do love the artwork for the story and it keeps the series feeling the same.

Ann Marie talks about Mindfulness and the monkeys. It is so good. I would love for my Nephew, who is so like a wild Monkey to find some mindfulness and attention. It will happen in time.
Profile Image for Christi M.
345 reviews61 followers
January 21, 2022
According to the Teacher's Top 100 Books for Children, Caps for Sale is number 93. It's about a peddler who sells hats and then decides to take a nap in a tree. When he wakes up he realizes they have all been stolen.

It's funny how clearly I remember the book from childhood. I'm not exactly sure what makes it memorable, but somehow it is. Perhaps it was how oddly the man is perched in the tree as he sleeps. Logic tells you that the tree branch he is on shouldn't be able to hold him up.

And although it is a likeable and memorable book, I'm not quite sure how it was determined it should be #93. But who am I to argue with teachers.
Profile Image for Suz.
1,158 reviews603 followers
February 11, 2018
Great! Paying homage to the original author, a new story including a lovely lady who is the character based on the author. The kids make a comeback too. And it talks of mindfulness. Very 2018! Review to come.
Profile Image for The Library Lady.
3,651 reviews538 followers
October 13, 2007
No fancy computer generated illustrations--just a bright, limited palette. No characters with their own TV show. No farting dogs, no cool pullouts or lift the flaps. Just a simple little story about "a peddler, some monkeys and their monkey business"
But for 60 years kids have read and loved this story. I have never had a group of kids who didn't have fun shaking their fingers and stomping their feet along with the monkeys.
This is what a true "classic" is all about!
Profile Image for Mackey.
1,073 reviews363 followers
August 24, 2017
Caps, caps for sale, fifty cents a cap........This was the cry of the peddler who went through the town with a myriad of colorful caps piled high upon his head. But what happens to the caps when the poor peddler takes a nap under the tree will have you and your children laughing gleefully!

I read this story a thousand or more times to each of my own children, all of our neighborhood kids, anyone who would sit still! I still have it memorized to this day and it still is our favorite story of all! It's a must have for every child filled home.
Profile Image for Madisyn Carlin.
Author 13 books226 followers
September 23, 2022
This review is for seven-year-old me.

This is was first book I remember loathing. Hating. Despising. My poor kindergarten teacher surely couldn't have foreseen the chaos I would put her through when she had us read this. I refused to write the book report and no one, not even my parents or grandma, could convince me to do my homework regarding this book. (From kindergarten through college, this is the only time I have ever refused to do schoolwork, mind you.) My stubborn side emerged and poor Mrs. Heine was thrown for a loop. The sweet, curly-haired teacher's pet with a big, bright smile had turned into a stubborn terror who adamantly refused to have anything to do with Caps for Sale.

I can't tell you what other books we read, but I remember this one. I. Couldn't. Stand. It. I have been raised from Day One to be for justice and truth and to uphold the law. Guys...the monkeys were monstrous! They stole the poor peddler's hats, ruined them, taunted him, and refused to give them back. THEN they never get in trouble. At all. NEVER. I just couldn't, in my seven-year-old conscience, applaud or even write a book report about a book lauding thievery and mean behavior.

I was traumatized. (Actually, I think my teacher, parents, and grandma were even more traumatized. I really was a little terror about this.)

This review has been over a decade in the making. I honestly hated this book, and I still will not recommend it. And if I were asked to write a book report? Well, can't say I'd do it now even after all these years later.
Profile Image for Amy.
1,131 reviews
October 1, 2011
Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather after I read this one to the kids! I checked out Caps for Sale from the library because two of my friends rated this book highly, but I didn't read the book before I checked it out. I stuck it in my bag, along with Once Upon a Royal Superbaby, and on the bus ride home I read the book. "Oh, no," I thought, "the kids are going to think this is lame! There's no way this is going to be able to compete with that superbaby book!"

Huh. Shows what I know! The kids *loved* this book! I thought my nephew was going to have some sort of hemorrhage from laughing so hard, and the more he laughed, the more my niece laughed. The more the kids laughed, the more my sister and I laughed! Pretty soon, it was a big old comedy hour in the car (which is where we read this book). I could not believe that a quaint little book from 1947, with a simple little story and simple little drawings could elicit such joy from those kids! My sister and I looked at each other in amazement, and I shrugged and said, "I know, right?!" The kids made me read Caps for Sale five times, and then they took it home so my sister could read it to them again later. Who'da thunk it?!
Profile Image for M.M. Strawberry Library & Reviews.
4,225 reviews344 followers
June 25, 2021
A pretty silly book about a peddler trying to sell hats, and the asshole moneys who keep messing around with his business. I thought it was silly when I read it as a kid, but then that's the point of many children's books, isn't it?
Profile Image for Jason.
288 reviews537 followers
October 15, 2013
This peddler is a goddamn cheat. I don't blame the monkeys.


Can't wait to read this.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
3,694 reviews45 followers
January 29, 2020
A simple tale with lots of repetition and chances for audience participation. The pictures are a bit old fashioned, but the story is so entertaining that you don't notice enough to care. This one begs to be read aloud with lots of emotion!
Profile Image for Beth.
Author 11 books18 followers
February 27, 2023
"I like this book! It's so funny!" -Solo (5 yrs)
"The guy has a moustache like Dad! My fav'rite part is when he says, 'You better give me back my caps!'" -Peter (3yrs)
Profile Image for Shruthi.
297 reviews19 followers
January 4, 2023
This book has been a banger since my own youth but there was a sobering moment when my 3yo asked me why the peddler was hungry after failing to sell any caps. Kids!!!
Profile Image for Vivian.
2,397 reviews
October 20, 2017
This is a great ACTION STORY.
Let the children chant with you "Caps! Caps for sale! Fifty cents a cap!" When you read the part where the peddler is hungry, rub your tummy.
When he walks out into the country invite the children to stand up (oh so carefully -- so as not to upset your wares) and walk (in place)til you find a tree to nap under.
Sit down (oh so carefully) and check your wares. Touch the imaginary black and white checkered cap, the brown caps (which may look yellow to the children -- if so, say "yellow"), the blue caps, and finally way-on-top the red caps.
When the peddler wakes up you and the children can stretch and then feel your heads for the caps (which are gone!).
The peddler looks RIGHT so YOU look LEFT (as the children are mirroring you), and so forth.
Now comes the fun part. You and the children all stand up and shake first one fist, then two fists and stamp with one foot while shaking both hands and then stamp with both feet while shaking both fists.

You can listen to and view the complete story here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=INptS...
Profile Image for Westminster Library.
739 reviews51 followers
July 29, 2018
All the peddler wanted to do was sell some caps and mind his business; the monkeys however had other ideas. This is a great read aloud book for various age levels and of course, the interactive aspect of it will allow for readers to engage more with the story. There is repetition, patterns and colors, all things that are important in early literacy.

Find Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business at the Westminster Public Library!
Profile Image for Sandy.
2,557 reviews62 followers
November 25, 2017
If you loved Caps For Sale, you will love this new addition to the original. I think I love this new novel better than the original. The monkey’s in this new novel remind me of the elves in the Shoemaker and the Elves. They help the peddler tremendously and he realizes that they are not pesky monkeys but instead they are mindful monkeys.

He shakes his finger at them, “You monkeys, you” and the monkeys only shake their fingers right back at him and reply, “Tsz, tsz, tsz!” Don’t you just love this? I smile every time I read this. Then, looking at the illustration, I see the smiling monkeys, the peddler with his mustache, and I know that one party wants to play and the other one has work to do.

There are sixteen monkeys now and they have been following the peddler for two days. The peddler is going to visit his friend Essie as she will know what to do about the monkeys. Guess who follows the peddler to Essie’s? Yes, the monkeys! Essie has some good advice but it’s not exactly what the peddler wanted to hear but nevertheless he returns home with the monkey’s trailing behind him. He follows Essie’s advice and unexpectantly, he has to leave town as one of his friends is sick. He is gone many days and the monkey’s wait in the tree, for his return. These are mindful monkeys and soon they band together and decide to help the peddler. When the peddler arrives home, overcome with worry and discomfort, the peddler is surprised at the monkeys in his tree. His friend Essie was right and the ending to this novel was wonderful. The pictures were great and they follow the same template as Caps For Sale. Another fantastic children’s novel!
Profile Image for Slytano.
242 reviews13 followers
August 15, 2013
This is one of the best books ever.

Here is something you don't notice: In the first half of the book, the picture is always on the left page and the text is always on the right page. The center of the book is the only time that the picture is spread out over two pages. There is text on both of these pages as well. Having only one occurrence of this makes the spread noteworthy. In the second half of the book, all the pictures are on the right pages and the text is always on the left pages. It was originally published in the 1940s, and it really sticks out to me, since most all of the picture books presently published are not created this way.

I don’t like that the monkeys make this sound: “Tsz, tsz, tsz.” What sound is that? Monkeys do not make that sound. It is nearly impossible for the human tongue to make that sound. I hate that sound and I wish Slobodkina would have used different words that I would have an easier time saying out loud.

Now that I think about it, this book is rather odd. A peddler with a moustache walks around a village with 17 caps on his head. This seems an odd manner in which to transport one’s wares. The most curious thing is that he is selling his caps for only 50 cents each. That is not going to cover his costs. I would suggest that he study the principles of microeconomics. Also, this village is infested with monkeys that steal hats. I would not encourage anyone to visit this area, even if they are thrifty and pursuing caps.
Profile Image for Mary Lou Carolan.
29 reviews2 followers
June 25, 2011
A classic tale that is a perfect story time read. Esphyr Slobodkina tells of a peddler who carries his wares on his head - selling caps of all colors for 50 cents a cap. On a day when no one in town is buying, the peddler takes a long nap under a tree. He awakens to find no caps on his head; instead, the monkeys in the tree are all wearing his caps. When he yells at them, a humorous exchange occurs as the monkeys mimic the peddler’s angry rant. When he finally throws down his own cap in frustration, the monkeys follow suit. Placing his caps back on his head, off he goes to sell his caps once again. Simple colors and drawings accompany a tight and rhythmic predictable text that encourages both laughter and participation. The patterned language includes a circular plotline as the story ends where it began.
Profile Image for Suzanne Moore.
630 reviews113 followers
January 24, 2016
I love this story and the sneaky monkeys. It is the hat peddler who finds a way to outsmart the monkeys. Monkeys are known for mimicking, so watch out what you do around them. My son has a cap that looks like the checkered one worn by the peddler. Stacking hats on our heads and acting out this story was a favorite game of my grandchildren when they were little. They loved it when I would say "You monkey you ... you give me back my caps!" It was a good way to practice posture, trying to walk straight without spilling the hats. This story has been around since I was a little girl .. a classic!
Profile Image for Mark Baker.
2,099 reviews159 followers
September 25, 2016
One day, a cap peddler decides to take a break by napping under a tree. When he awakes, he finds his caps have been stolen by monkeys who were in the tree he slept under. Can he get them back?

I loved this book as a kid, and I found it just as delightful now. The writing is simple, so a beginning reader could handle it. The story is fairly straightforward, but it is still filled with fun. And the illustrations are delightful as well.

Read my full review at Carstairs Considers.
Profile Image for Evan.
1,071 reviews753 followers
June 15, 2011
A "Wonder Book" meant for the youngest readers...This delighted me as a child, but I no longer squeal with delight at the monkeys thrown in as the deus ex machina. The idea of a dude with lots of hats is better realized in Dr. Seuss's The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,697 reviews

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