I Want My Hat Back
I Want My Hat Back
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Jon Klassen
ISBN 9780763655983
Candlewick, 2011.
2012 Theodor Seuss Giesel Honor Book
5 stars
Keywords: animals i-want-my-hat-back jon-klassen manners mystery

I Want My Hat Back
by Jon Klassen

Hats off to Jon Klassen (Cats' Night Out), who makes a droll statement about morality for all ages with the first picture book that he has both written and illustrated.

"My hat is gone. I want it back," a bear states simply at the story's start. His expression here is the same one he wears on the book's cover. The bear meets a fox: "Have you seen my hat?" The bear's question is printed in black. The fox's response appears in brown: "No. I haven't seen your hat." "OK. Thank you anyway," the bear answers. This exchange sets up the story's structure; the clever design dispenses with the need for quotation marks. Soon the bear meets a rabbit sporting a red triangle on its head. "Have you seen my hat?" "No. Why are you asking me? I haven't seen it," the rabbit replies in red, "I would not steal a hat. Don't ask me any more questions." "OK. Thank you anyway," goes the hero's polite refrain, and on he searches.

Even if your youngsters make a connection at this point that the bear does not, the suspense builds. The bear meets other creatures, including a deer that asks the bear to describe his hat. That triggers an epiphany. Klassen uses the turn of the page brilliantly for the climax: "I HAVE SEEN MY HAT." The author-artist closes with a visual solution that allows children not ready for a worst-case scenario to assume another outcome. This book's call-and-response form infiltrates the consciousness like song lyrics, and will soon have your children clamoring to read it again and again.

This review originally appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers.

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