I did not know the work of Mark Alan Stamaty until I met my husband in college and he shared his tattered childhood copy of Who Needs Donuts? with me. It was such a weird, trippy, odd and oddly satisfying story that I fell in love with it immediately. Yet, I never sought out any of Stamaty's other works for children or adults. That one book was a lot. But not quite enough, as I am thrilled to have Yellow Yellow to pore over again and again. Stamaty and Frank Asch (a kid's book staple, best known for his Moon Bear books) met while at the prestigious Cooper Union in New York City and originally published this book in 1971.
With sparse text, Yellow Yellow tells the story of a boy who finds a yellow construction worker's hat amidst a pile of junk. He tries it on. It fits just right. And his world expands! People begin to look at him more and talk to him more. And there are so many uses for the hat. Until, one day, he meets the owner of the hat and has to return it. But that doesn't stop the narrator or diminish his happiness. He heads home and gets out paper and a yellow crayon, coloring every yellow thing he can think of. When he is done, he folds the paper into a hat and it fits just right!
Amidst the simple and sweet story of the boy and his yellow hat are hundreds, possibly thousands of other stories going on in Stamaty's densely packed, detail filled, crowded slices of an explosive imagination that are his illustrations. As the New York Times review of Yellow Yellow from February 28, 1971 notes, "But Mark Alan Stamaty has drawn a city scene that Hieronymous Bosch would have enjoyed walking through. Surprises are all around. Store windows, people on the street, animals on the curb are labeled with half-hidden, sometimes ironic messages. Tiny dream creatures pop up in the most unexpected places. The streets are cluttered with unspeakable creatures doing preposterous things."