Friday, August 8, 2014

I Want My Hat Back

by Jon Klassen

Ages: 0 - 8 years (approximately grades preschool - 2)

Bear has lost his hat. He wants it back. To achieve this, Bear goes from animal to animal, asking if any of them have seen his hat. “Not around here,” replies the frog. “What is a hat?” asks the armadillo. “I saw a hat once. It was blue,” chimes the snake. “Why are you asking me? I would not steal a hat! Don’t ask me any more questions!” snaps the rabbit. It isn’t until his questioning is nearly complete that Bear, wide-eyed, realizes that he has seen his hat! The next scene depicts bear with a very familiar red hat who, when asked if he’s seen Rabbit, replies, “Why are you asking me? I would not eat a rabbit! Don’t ask me any more questions.”

The very sparse nature of the illustrations goes swimmingly with the sparse text. Without quotation marks or other dialogue attributions, each animal’s words stands next to a very simple depiction of the conversation or actions that coincide. The simplicity of both the illustrations and text lend themselves to the somewhat complex nature of the plot, as Bear moves along on the road to discovering the whereabouts of his hat. Some animals throw readers slightly off the trail, giving comprehension skills a workout. The fate of the hat-stealing bunny is also left to the imagination, discovered only by an understanding of Bear’s denial versus Bunny’s. Although the grim retribution in this story might not be for the faint of heart, I Want My Hat Back is alternatively a comical depiction of what might happen to a thief or liar. If you enjoy Mo Willem’s plucky Pigeon or the muted illustrative works of Peter Brown (Mr. Tiger Goes Wild, Children Make Terrible Pets), you will love Klassen’s I Want My Hat Back.

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