I Want My Hat Back

I Want My Hat BackThe bookseller at my local store was frantically restocking after the grand opening weekend and was making room to face out Jon Klassen’s wickedly funny I Want My Hat Back. After I commented on the book, she said, “I’ve read a lot about this book, but I have not had time to read it yet.”

“Come on, it’s a quick read. I promise you that kids are going to want to read it over and over, ” I laughed. I sure as heck wasn’t giving away the ending to this book. And I am not giving it away here either. I would never deprive a reader that exquisite pleasure of reading a book and guffawing at the twists and turns it takes. These animators (I am talking to you, Mo Willems and John Rocco) who write picture books have a special gift of pacing. They know when to stop putting words on the page.

According to the copyright page, these illustrations were “created digitally and in Chinese ink.” Using a brown palette with splashes of muted greens and browns and red, Klassen matched the typeface color with whichever animal is talking to the bear. When the animals talk to each other, their eyes face out at the reader, giving everything a shifty, don’t-take-us-too-seriously look. And, when rabbit enters the story, the reader notices two things: a red pointy hat and a lot of nervous red chatter. The bear barely (couldn’t stop myself) moves until he collapses, mourning the missing hat. When a deer arrives, eyes meet for the first time and we sense the shift in tone. The page turn makes it clear—a red hot page with all upper case text: Bear knows where his hat is and he is going to get it back.

Spread from I Want My Hat Back

Here is what I think the committee will love: pacing, humor, use of the color red amidst the sepia-hued pages, the color-coded text, the thick luscious paper, the hilarious ending, the scene where bear runs to the left to back track the story, the standoff (told only with the eyes), and the sly resolution. I know they will love the end papers and all the design, especially the use of white space.

Will they like the ending? Will they share this with children to see what they think of the ending? (I sure hope so!)

You have to go all the way back to 1996 to find a truly hilarious book (Officer Buckle and Gloria) wearing that gold sticker. Will this be the year for humor?
Robin Smith
Robin Smith
Robin Smith is a second-grade teacher at the Ensworth School in Nashville, Tennessee. She is a reviewer for Kirkus and The Horn Book Magazine and has served on multiple award committees.
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I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen | Awards by Amy

[…] Reviews: Horn Book Review […]

Posted : Mar 02, 2014 08:16

Ethics, food chains, and stolen hats - The Horn Book

[...] other book involving food chains and hats, I Want My Hat Back, found Robin and me disagreeing about the fate of the rabbit. I said the bear ate him and Robin [...]

Posted : Jan 31, 2013 10:32

This Is Not My Hat — The Horn Book

[...] time Jon Klassen is working as illustrator AND author in a companion to last year’s I Want My Hat Back. Robin and I don’t agree about what happened to the rabbit in that one. She says he lived and [...]

Posted : Oct 02, 2012 03:24

Review of This Is Not My Hat — The Horn Book

[...] 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 [...]

Posted : Sep 26, 2012 02:35

Joanne Rubenstein

I read it to 4th graders, first graders, and kindergarteners today. I agree with the comment above that you could immediately tell who got the ending. Those who did were positively gleeful about it. . Others were confused by the ending, thinking, like previously mentioned, that the bear was sitting on the rabbit. All of the grades paid close attention, and commented on the use of color in the text. Most liked the ending, some thought it wasn't nice, but none seemed upset by it.

Posted : Jan 04, 2012 01:48

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