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
Written and Illustrated by: Jon Klassen
Publisher: Candlewick Press (September 2011)
Genre: Picture Book/Fiction
Awards: 2012 Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book
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.
But then deer asks a question that sparks a memory. Maybe bear has seen his hat!
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).
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.
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.
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?[divider top=”0″]
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.