Jonas Hanway’s Scurrilous, Scandalous, Shockingly Sensational Umbrella!

With a title like that I think I could just stop here? ❤️

This wonderful picture book written by Josh Crute and illustrated by Eileen Ryan Ewen is sensational indeed.

In London, back in the way back days in the mid 1700’s, men did not carry umbrellas. And therefore, London being London, people spent a lot of time either getting wet, or staying indoors.

When Jonas Hanway was traveling and saw people using umbrellas, he decided that he would shock people and break barriers by carrying and using an umbrella himself.

But people carrying umbrellas just was not done, nor accepted in London at the time. The history about why umbrellas were not used (because a wealthy enough individual would be able to hire a coach) is briefly mentioned in the story and explained in more detail in the interesting back-matter pages.

The trick to making a successful non-fiction story is to find a relatable lesson which will keep the factual story interesting and meaningful enough so that a reader wants to revisit the book again and again. In this case the bigger picture (so to speak) is that Jonas Hanway was passionate enough about something to not care what other people thought. He was bullied and ridiculed for carrying an umbrella and yet, he didn’t believe that others’ had a right to tell him what to do.

After many years of enduring such unpleasantness, Jonas noticed other men finally using umbrella’s as well. Did he discover the umbrella? no. What Jonas Hanway discovered was the solution to a problem and the inner strength to stand up for his beliefs.

The story is peppered with fun word play and clever language. The watercolor illustrations are bustling with action and gorgeously rendered. The spreads are diverse in composition and shift perspectives moving the reader from one page to the next. One of my favorites spreads depicts pudgy mermaids flanking either side of the globe— telling of Jonas’ travels.

There is a wonderful teacher’s guide available on Page Street Publishing’s website here.

I hope you enjoy this shockingly sensational picture book as I much as I did. Thanks to Josh Crute and Eileen Ryan Ewen, I will never put up my umbrella without thinking about Jonas Hanway again!

Jennifer Black Reinhardt

Jennifer is the illustrator and author of several acclaimed picture books. Most recently is Always by My Side, 'A Stuffie Story', which she wrote and illustrated. She also is both the author and illustrator of Playing Possum, and Blue Ethel. Jennifer illustrated Gondra’s Treasure, written by Newbery award winner Linda Sue Park. As well as, Sometimes You Fly, by Newbery medalist, Katherine Applegate. She illustrated Yaks Yak, Animal Word Pairs by Linda Sue Park, The Inventor's Secret, What Thomas Edison Told Henry Ford, by Suzanne Slade, Rabbi Benjamin's Buttons, by Alice B. McGinty, and The Adventures of a South Pole Pig, by Chris Kurtz.


  1. Thanks for sharing this fabulously fun book! ?

  2. Oh my what a wonderfully fantabulous story. He was a trendsetter. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Debra Kempf Shumaker

    This looks fantastic!

  4. What a fun story. And Eileen did such a nice job on the illustration.

  5. Thanks for sharing, Jennifer. It’s interesting to learn about a story where the focus isn’t on an inventor but rather someone who used an invention to solve a problem!

  6. Bubmbershoot! I must read this!

    Thanks for the peek.

  7. Sounds like a fun read. Thanks for telling us about it.

  8. Great post, Jennifer – you had me at the title! Looking forward to reading this!!

  9. This looks like a book I need to see! Just requested it from the library. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Susan Lee Roberts

    This is the line that spoke to me while I’m re-writing my NF picture book:
    The trick to making a successful non-fiction story is to find a relatable lesson which will keep the factual story interesting and meaningful.


  11. Elspeth Lorraine

    Oh my goodness. Cute, Cute and CUTE! I had no idea umbrellas could be sensational.

  12. This sounds like a fun read! Just put it on my Want to Read list on Good Reads. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Thanks for sharing this book! I look forward to reading it.

  14. This looks like such a fun read-aloud book! And thank you for the excellent writing advice too.

  15. Such a fun true story! And the vocabulary is shockingly sensational!

  16. This looks adorable!

  17. This looks like a wonderful informative and fun read. Congratulations!

  18. Oh, my goodness, this looks like a terrific book. I have to get my hands on a copy. Thanks for telling me about it.

  19. London without umbrellas? Hard to believe! Thanks for introducing us to this story.

  20. Looks excellent–LOVE the language and the art–thanks for sharing!!

  21. Everything about this book intrigues me.

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