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Sunday, October 9, 2011

I Want My Hat Back, written and illustrated by Jon Klassen. Candlewick, Random House. 2011. $18.00 ages 4 and up

Have you seen my hat?

No. Why are you asking me.
I haven't seen it.
I haven't seen any hats anywhere.
I would not steal a hat.
Don't ask me any more questions.

OK. Thank you anyway.

You have to love it when an author gets his debut book RIGHT! Or is it intimidating? Does it auger well for the future? I cannot help but think that the next is bound to be worthy of our attention. This is Jon Klassen's first book, where he has done the writing and the illustrating. He does a masterful job! I love his wicked humor, and your audience will love it, too!

There is little WOW factor as you open its pages. The palette is muted tones of browns, greens, and orange,  matching the forest animals to whom he speaks. The dialogue is short and to the point, with no adornment. As he wanders the forest looking for his hat, he asks the same five word question: Have you seen my hat?

He first speaks with the fox, asking about it. The fox (whose reply is in the same hue as his sleek fur) has not seen it. The bear thanks him for his attention and moves forward. The next is a frog; once again the response matches his body color. Only the rabbit offers a more verbose response.

It takes time, additional inquiries and a feeling of abject wretchedness that renders him prone before he has a stunning revelation. It comes to him when just the right question is asked: What does your hat look like?
The background turns a bold red as he realizes that he HAS seen his hat. He makes his return trip through the forest quickly and with purpose, passing each of his previously questioned neighbors. Watch out, Rabbit!

Later, in a classicly ironic response, he provides this answer for a squirrel in search of a rabbit:

No. Why are you asking me.
I haven't seen him.
I haven't seen any rabbits
I would not eat a rabbit.
Don't ask me any more questions.

I love this book! It is clever and it is hilarious!!

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