Perfect Picture Book Friday: I Want My Hat Back

February 17, 2012 37 Comments by Renee M. LaTulippe
I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

This bear loves his pointy red hat. Who wouldn't?

No one loves subversive humor and absurd twists more than I, so imagine my surprise when I found both these things in a picture book. Who would have thought? Well, Jon Klassen, that’s who! And he’s given us all the gift of his dark tale of intrigue, loss, despair, and redemption…or is it revenge?

Possibly the oddest children’s book I’ve read thus far, it’s also one of my favorites for its pure silliness and its breaking-all-the-rules, devil-may-care attitude.

If film noir were a picture book, it would be I Want My Hat Back, with Klassen’s critter cast in the role of bear fatale.

 

[heading style=”1″]The Goods[/heading]

I Want My Hat Back

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

Written and Illustrated by: Jon Klassen
Publisher: Candlewick Press (September 2011)
Genre: Picture Book/Fiction
Awards: 2012 Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book
Ages: 4+
Themes/Topics: Humor, Loss, Animals, Helping, Problem Solving

Opening and Brief Synopsis:

My hat is gone. I want it back. 

Bear has lost his pointy red hat and he’s determined to get it back. He asks fox and frog and turtle and snake. No one has seen his hat! Bear is despondent!

Nobody has seen my hat. What if I never see it again? What if nobody ever finds it? My poor hat. I miss it so much.

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

Depressed bear.

 

But then deer asks a question that sparks a memory. Maybe bear has seen his hat!

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

Run, bear! Run!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Links to Resources:

  • This downloadable Candlewick Story-Hour Kit includes several learning activities and games for the book.
  • Kids can make their own pointy red hats with this Make-a-Hat Activity Sheet at scribd.com.
  • Drama: This book is perfect for dramatizing as reader’s theater for older children (giving each child a creature to portray) or as a call-and-response activity for younger children (“Have you seen my hat?” “No!” and so on).

Book Trailer

Why I Like This Book: It’s hysterical! It’s genius! Besides the dark humor, I love that the book is written entirely in dialogue, but without the use of dialogue tags. Instead, the dialogue of different characters is shown through text color and formatting.

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

Helpful bear.

This style means that there is no “showing” going on in the text, and makes the action more immediate, as if we’re right there in the woods with all those creatures. My boys are still too young for this one, but I would imagine kids would get a big kick out of helping bear find his hat, especially in one scene in particular…but I won’t give it away.

The text itself is simple, simple, simple, yet reveals so much about bear and each animal he encounters.

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

Snake has seen a hat, but not bear's hat.

Just as spare are the illustrations, so witty and funny that they tell a story all by themselves. I like that none of the animals have mouths. That, coupled with all the white space, somehow creates a sense of silence and suspense, making the payoff of the last spread even more…

delicious, shall we say?

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Perfect Picture Book Fridays is a shared weekly event started by children’s author Susanna Leonard Hill. You can find the entire list of recommended picture books on the Perfect Picture Books page on her blog.

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36 Comments

  1. Erik This Kid Reviews Books
    5 years ago

    I LOVE THIS BOOK!! It is just awesome!! I love the look on the bear’s face and the fact he wears a pointy red hat 🙂
    GREAT choice!!

    Reply

    • Renee LaTulippe
      5 years ago

      I know! He’s so attached to that hat! I wonder where he got it?

      Reply

  2. Joanna Marple
    5 years ago

    This was one of my favorite books from last year and I nominated it for the Cybils. It is delightfully naughty and witty, but definitely not to all parents’ taste!

    Reply

    • Renee LaTulippe
      5 years ago

      Yes, “naughty” is such a good word for it. It’s like a guilty pleasure book for toddlers to hide under their mattresses. HA!

      Reply

  3. Linda Baie
    5 years ago

    This is one of the times I’m sorry I’m not in the classroom anymore. I love this book too, and want to read it to a group & make those pointy hats! I think I’m going to have to ‘borrow’ a class soon! Thanks!

    Reply

    • Renee LaTulippe
      5 years ago

      And I wish my boys were big enough for the book…but soon enough, I guess. Then pointy hats shall be made!

      Reply

  4. Heather
    5 years ago

    We just picked this book up yesterday and it is brilliant! My husband said it’s the best children’s book he’s ever seen. Probably because our household tends toward dark, subversive humor, too 😉 Awesome choice!

    Reply

    • Renee LaTulippe
      5 years ago

      Never too early to nurture a twisted sense of humor, right, Heather? 🙂

      Reply

      • Heather
        5 years ago

        gotta get ’em young and raise ’em up right!

        Reply

  5. Julie Hedlund
    5 years ago

    If film noir were a picture book, it would be I Want My Hat Back, with Klassen’s critter cast in the role of bear fatale.

    That could be my all-time favorite sentence in a picture book review! 🙂

    Reply

  6. Susanna Leonard Hill
    5 years ago

    I’m with Julie 🙂 I love this book too – so clever and dare to be different. I like the line, “What’s a hat” “Okay, Thank you anyway!” I suppose some people might object to the idea that the bear ate the hat-stealing rabbit 🙂 but most people seem able to see the humor! Great choice!

    Reply

    • Renee LaTulippe
      5 years ago

      @ Julie – Hee! This book inspires silliness, what can I say?

      @ Susanna – I love that line, too! He’s such a very polite bear. Maybe we should add “good manners” to the themes. Although I don’t think the rabbit would agree with us.

      Reply

  7. Genevieve
    5 years ago

    I laughed my head off when I read this book at Barnes & Noble. It was such a refreshing surprise. I guess I should consider myself lucky that I didn’t spit latte everywhere!

    Reply

  8. Darlene Foster
    5 years ago

    This looks like a delightful book! I am sure some little people in my life would love it.

    Reply

    • Renee LaTulippe
      5 years ago

      @ Genevieve – I had the same reaction – totally unexpected!

      @ Darlene – As long as they aren’t rabbit lovers…:)

      Reply

  9. Eric Van Raepenbusch
    5 years ago

    I can never find this book at the library!!!! ARRRRGH! One of these days I will get my hands on it. It is on the top of my list of PBs to read to my kids. Great review!

    Reply

  10. Robyn Campbell
    5 years ago

    Awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I must get this. It looks so cute. What a fabulous choice. Bear is just so doggone adorable. What a fantastic review. Can you tell how much I want this book?????

    Thanks for sharing this. *waving and smiling*

    Reply

    • Renee LaTulippe
      5 years ago

      @ Eric – Just take them to the book store and read it there! But then you might have to buy it…

      @ Robyn – Ha! Well, go get it! It’s such an unusual addition to any library!

      Reply

  11. Patricia Tilton
    5 years ago

    Absolutely love this book! So glad you added it to our list. Dont know whether I loved your fun review and excitement, or the book better!!! Love it people really get excited about a book!

    Reply

  12. Kirsten Larson
    5 years ago

    These illustrations are hilarious. Thanks for providing us with such an in-depth look look at this book.

    Reply

    • Renee LaTulippe
      5 years ago

      @ Pat – Excellent – glad my enthusiasm shows through! I really do love this one.

      @ Kirsten – I know, I practically put the whole book up there. So hard to choose just a few pages…

      Reply

  13. Jennifer Rumberger
    5 years ago

    I haven’t read this yet, but can’t wait! Thanks for sharing.

    Reply

  14. Loni Edwards
    5 years ago

    This one has been on my list for some time. Your review reminded me that I need to read this book. The cover illo alone made me giggle the first time I saw it. I am so glad you added it to the list 🙂

    Reply

  15. Margaret Greanias
    5 years ago

    I love this book. It’s so simple and yet so clever. And dark is right. My kids do enjoy it — although I think they may have missed the whole part about eating the rabbit.

    Reply

    • Renee LaTulippe
      5 years ago

      @ Jennifer @ Loni – Definitely put this one at the top of the reading list. I really think it deserves a place of honor just for being different (and fabulous in every other way).

      @ Margaret – Yeah, if the kids don’t get it, I’d just let eaten rabbits lie.

      Reply

  16. Amy Dixon
    5 years ago

    Add me to the list of folks who love the dark humor of this book. The great thing about it, I think, is that kids don’t really find it to be dark. So it entertains both the adult and the child, but for different reasons. Brilliant!

    Reply

  17. Dana Carey
    5 years ago

    Renée,
    I’ve heard a lot about this book but your review has sold me on it. I’ve got to get my hands on it.
    Thanks!

    Reply

    • Renee LaTulippe
      5 years ago

      @ Amy – Yup, that’s what I love about it. Would love to see more books like this. Hey, I know — we should write some! 🙂

      @ Dana – You must!

      Reply

  18. Anna @ green tea n toast
    5 years ago

    Great find Renee – this definitely looks like a book we’d enjoy. Will have to try and track it down. x

    Reply

  19. Jennifer Kirkeby
    5 years ago

    Greetings, Renee!

    I’ve just awarded you the Liebster Blog award for your lovely blog. You can see details at this post on my blog:
    Liebster Blog Award – Spreading the Love http://jenniferkirkeby.blogspot.com/

    Happy Writing!
    Jennifer

    And I too LOVE the book I Want My Hat Back!

    Reply

  20. Penny Klostermann
    5 years ago

    This is a great book. The illustrations were delightful. Thanks for the awesome review, Renee.

    Reply

  21. patientdreamer
    5 years ago

    wonderful review Renee….. I can imagine you reading this….. Such a delightful story. Thanks.

    Reply

  22. Ali B.
    5 years ago

    I just got this book in the mail as a late Valentine’s Day gift from a friend. I can’t wait to read it to my kiddos at bedtime. I think it’s going to become a bedtime book favorite.

    Renée, I also wanted to thank you for stopping by http://literarylunchbox.blogspot.com/ to comment on my son’s essay. He has been overjoyed to read all the comments and book suggestions. Thank you!

    Reply

  23. Vivian Kirkfield
    5 years ago

    Did I not comment on this yet? What a great choice! Marty Banks mentioned it at our local SCBWI meeting on Sunday…and I knew I had remembered seeing it on Susanna’s PPBF list.
    Thank you for a wonderful review, Renee. 🙂

    Reply

  24. Barb
    5 years ago

    I just picked up this book today, on your recommendation, and it’s hilarious! I can hardly wait to read it to my class. Thanks!!

    ❀Barbara❀
    Grade ONEderful

    Reply

  25. Loni Edwards
    5 years ago

    The library got this in for me. Oh wow! I can see now why there is controversy. I was shocked at first just by the daring of it. I loved it! It was different and not the typical children’s book. Yes, a noir is a great description. I loved the look on the bear’s face when he said. “WAIT! I HAVE SEEN….” 😀 Great book!

    Reply

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