Review of We Found a Hat

klassen_we-found-a-hat star2 We Found a Hat
by Jon Klassen; illus. by the author
Preschool, Primary    Candlewick    56 pp.
10/16    978-0-7636-5600-3    $17.99    g

This third picture book by Klassen about a hat (I Want My Hat Back, rev. 11/11; This Is Not My Hat, rev. 9/12), itself written in three parts, is a bit longer than its predecessors, but the storyline remains as simple — and in its focus and themes, familiar — as ever. Amidst a desert landscape, two turtles find a hat together. It looks good on both of them, but “there is only one hat.” Rather than squabble over ownership, they decide to leave it where they find it and move on. Yet one turtle cannot forget the hat and continues to wrestle with and eventually overcome the baser instincts of greed and deceit. Visually, the book is unmistakably the work of Klassen: a monochromatic palette that ranges, as the day progresses from early morning to darkest, starriest night, from gray to black with the dusky glow of the setting sun as the lone contrasting accent color; a text consisting entirely of dialogue/monologue that either runs along the top of a double-page spread or stands alone on an 
unillustrated page; and finally, of course, the telltale eyes that telegraph so much about what is really happening in the story. The tenderness in this book (with its uplifting ending) is just as surprising as the black humor in the earlier ones. While the book is richer in the context of the two previous volumes, Klassen leaves enough space for uninitiated readers to make their own meaning out of this story about a hat — but, here, also about an enduring and precious friendship.

From the September/October 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Jonathan Hunt
Jonathan Hunt is the coordinator of library media services at the San Diego County Office of Education.

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