Review: I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen
I Want My Hat Back
By Jon Klassen
The experience of reading I Want My Hat Back is somewhat similar to watching the comedy of Steven Wright:
Like Wright’s work, Jon Klassen’s hilarious, deadpan picture book will be divisive. Not everyone will enjoy it. But those that do like it are gonna really like it.
Bear is missing something he loves – his pointy red hat. In an effort to get it back, he trudges through the forest, questioning every animal he encounters.
Have you seen my hat?
No. I have not seen any hats around here.
OK. Thank you anyway.
No one has seen it, but one of the animals may not be telling the truth. Bear eventually realizes his oversight, and runs back to the rabbit to fix the situation. Permanently.
Oh, the conclusion. If the tone of the book up to the ending didn’t already force readers into “I love it” or “I hate it” camps, the darkly comedic ending will. Me? I’m all for it.
The earthy, relatively stark Chinese ink and digital illustrations are a perfect match for the text. Characters are almost always shown in full, making the occasional close-up more powerful. The melancholic look also provides humor, as the monotone dialog can be played for laughs in a read-aloud setting.
While I loved it, I know it won’t please everyone. But it is safe to say that it will elicit some sort of reaction from every reader who opens the cover. When you think about it, that’s about as big a compliment as you can get.
Review copy from the publisher.
Watch the book trailer for I Want My Hat Back:
(Thanks to Watch. Connect. Read. for the link)
About Travis Jonker
Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.
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