| Madame Chamberlaine |

Heat, Hats, and Haircuts

“Shana! Dana! Is everything okay? Why are the two of you wearing winter hats in this heat?!”

Shuly and I were sitting on our porch. Our AC had broken down last night. Outside was hot and sticky. Inside was even hotter, like a toaster oven.

We were using paper fans and icy lemonade to keep the heat level down.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been so hot,” I said.

“I know,” Shuly said. “I think I might be starting to melt. I could use a good sprinkling of water, but I’m too hot to move.”

Two girls were walking up our street.

“Uh, Shuly, I think I might be hallucinating. Are those girls really wearing winter hats?”

“Oh, my! They really are!” Shuly said.

One of the girls turned to us. “It’s Shana and Dana!” I exclaimed.

I wobbled down the steps.

“Shana! Dana! Is everything okay? Why are the two of you wearing winter hats in this heat?!”

Their faces were cherry red. Sweat was dribbling down their faces. Their eyebrows were wet.

Shana glanced at Dana. “Can I tell?”

Dana shrugged with a frown. “I guess so.”

“Dana went to get a haircut this morning,” Shana said. “She was sitting in the chair and the hairdresser was cutting her hair, when suddenly, a huge, brown dog ran through the open door and lunged at the hairdresser. The hairdresser was so shocked that the scissors in her hands went in the wrong direction, and now half of Dana’s hair is gone!”

“Oh, no!” I said.

“That’s why Dana’s wearing a hat.”

“And why are you also wearing a hat?” Shuly asked.

“How can I let my sister be the odd one out?” Shana said.

“Wow,” I said. “But you can’t wear a winter hat in this weather. Madame Chamberlaine is at our house. Maybe she can help you, Dana.”

“Nobody can help,” Dana pouted. “Not with half my hair missing.”

“Come anyway,” I said.

We trudged up the steps to our house. Madame was just emptying out the blender into large cups.

“Ah, mes petites!” she said. “Just in time for strawberry smoothies! And you brought des amies! Come, sit!”

She brought a few more cups to the table and sat down as well. She looked at Shana and Dana.

“Why are you wearing des chapeaux? Dans ce temps?

“Can I tell her your story?” I asked.

Dana nodded, her eyes sad.

Madame listened.

“Oh la la!” she said after I explained. She was quiet for a few minutes while we sipped our refreshing drink.


Then, she snapped her fingers. “Coco can help us! Ask your mothers for permission, and we’ll go see Coco.”

“Coco?” Dana asked. “Does she help people by giving them hot cocoa?”

“In this heat?” Madame asked. “Non, non, non! Come along, and you’ll find out.”

Soon, we were on our way to Coco’s house.

Her house was in the shape of a large, white dome. A huge, red pompom was on the top.

“This house looks like a hat,” Shuly said.

“Oui!” said Madame. “That is why I brought you here. Coco is an expert hat maker.”

Madame rapped on the dome shaped door. A woman opened the door. She had very pink cheeks, twinkling blue eyes, and a rainbow hat on her head.

“Looks like you girls are not the only ones wearing a hat in this heat,” Shuly said.

“Oh, ho, Madame Chamberlaine!” Coco said as she hugged Madame. “Entrez, entrez!

We entered her home. There were hats of all shapes and sizes hanging all over the walls.

We sat down on her couch.

“Coco,” Madame said. “We need your help.”

“Sure!” Coco said. “Let me guess.”

She looked at Shana and Dana. “Bad haircut?”

“A very, very bad haircut,” Dana said. She removed her hat.

We gasped. The hair was missing from the whole back of her head.

“Oh la la!” Madame said. “We will need a special chapeau to cover Dana’s cheveux!”

Coco nodded. “Hmmmmm. I have the perfect hat for you! Give me a few minutes!”

She disappeared behind a rainbow-colored curtain. We heard tinkering and banging, hemming and drilling, and then Coco stepped out through the curtain.

She held a shiny blue hat in her hands. It had a large turquoise flower on the side and it was made of a soft, cool material.

She placed the hat on Dana’s head.

“Way better,” Dana said. “It’s not nearly as hot as my other hat!”

“Oh ho! This hat is not your regular hat,” Coco laughed.

She touched the brim of the hat. A mist of water sprayed out of the brim.

“Whoa, nice!” Dana clapped her hands.

“We’re not done yet,” Coco said. She touched the other side of the brim and there was a quiet whir.

“Hey! I feel cool air!” Dana shouted.

“You sure do!” Coco said. “If you feel really hot, you touch the brim like I did, and the fan will turn on.”

Madame Chamberlaine smiled. “Un chapeau pour l’été!” she said.

“Coco,” Shana said. “Can I have a hat like that, too?”

Coco laughed. “Of course!”

“Our AC is not working,” I said. “I can also use a hat like that!”

“Me, too,” Shuly said.

“Pas de problème! I have one for all of you!” Coco said.

She gave us a box full of shiny blue hats. “Share with all your friends so that no one will know which one of you has the bad haircut!”

We thanked Coco, put on our hats, and left.

On the way home, everyone we met wanted a hat like ours. We gave hats to all our neighbors and friends. Everyone loved them. Dana smiled. She was no longer the odd one out, and no one would ever suspect that there was a really bad haircut under the fabulous hat!

And our hot house? Well, with a hat that had a built-in fan and water mist, we weren’t all that hot anymore. Even my mother asked for a hat!

Before Dana and Shana went home, Madame said to Dana, “I spoke to my friend, Madame Tress. She is an expert hairdresser. She said that you should come over tomorrow. She’ll try to fix your hair. D’accord?”

“Will she keep her door closed so no dogs can come inside while she’s giving me a haircut?”

Madame Chamberlaine laughed. “Of course! We don’t want the other half of your hair to be snipped off, too!”

We all laughed. Dana touched the brim of her hat to get the fan going. “Thank you for my hat, Madame Chamberlaine! See you tomorrow!”

Great news!

Three Cheers for Madame Chamberlaine, the third book about Madame, is out! Read about a haunted house, a child who never grew up, a flying glass car, and loads more! Buy it at your local Judaica bookstore, and drop Madame a line at MadameChamberlaine@gmail.com


Mes petites — my little ones

Des amies — friends

Des chapeaux (pronounced shapo) — hats

Dans ce temps — this weather

Non — no

Oui — yes

Entrez — Enter

Pas de problème — no problem

D’accord — Okay

L’été— the summer

(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 824)

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