This Is Not My Hat
by Jon Klassen; illus. by the author
Primary Candlewick 40 pp.
10/12 978-0-7636-5599-0 $15.99 g
The eyes have it in Klassen’s latest hat book (I Want My Hat Back, rev. 11/11). Klassen manages to tell almost the whole story through subtle eye movements and the tilt of seaweed and air bubbles. The wide-eyed little fish on the cover looks guilty. He is. He has taken the tiny bowler from the head of a large sleeping fish and pleads his case to the reader. He explains why he will never be caught — the fish is asleep; he won’t wake up or notice the missing hat; and he won’t know who took it or where the thief has gone. The culprit continues to flee the scene of the crime, moving to “where the plants are big and tall and close together.” Once he reaches his destination, the reader sees the little guy for the last time, disappearing amidst the “safety” of the seaweed. The final spread is laugh-out-loud funny: the large fish now sports the teeny hat, eyes closed and relaxed in slumber. The seaweed wafts innocently, and the air bubbles are calm. Since every claim the little fish makes is belied by the pictures, the reader is in on the joke, by turns rooting for him to get away and nervously hoping he is caught. Klassen continues to be the master of black and brown, and the viewer will not tire of the palette. Little eyes will pore over the end pages, looking for evidence of foul play, but all the interaction between the two characters takes place where the plants grow tall and close together, obscuring the view. Darkly hilarious.
From the September/October 2012 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.