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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

This Is Not My Hat, written and illustrated by Jon Klassen. Candlewick Press, Random House. 2012. $19.00 ages 4 and up

"I know it's wrong
to steal a hat.
I know it does not
belong to me.
But I am going to
keep it.
It was too small for
him anyway."

I LOVE Jon Klassen...well, I love his work! I don't know the man himself. But, I think that I would like to...we share our land of birth (though not the same province), we share a love of illustrated books, and I am a sucker for a great story, especially one that makes me smile from ear to ear.

Jon has a wicked sense of humor. It is evident in his debut picture book, I Want My Hat Back. It is equally obvious in this new book about a very confident (and perhaps naive) small fish who takes a tiny blue bowler from the head of a much larger sleeping fish. As he quietly glides away, he assures those watching that the big fish will sleep for ages, will not even notice that his hat is gone. If he wakens and should happen to notice, he won't know who took it or which way he went.

It all seems plausible. The big fish was asleep when the hat disappeared. The small fish is not within his range of vision when he awakens. The big one is set on catching the culprit and heads off in the right direction. It's OK...the little one has an ace up his sleeve. Only one creature knows the real story and he says he won't tell. Can he be trusted? What do you think?

This accomplished illustrator and newcomer to the world of children's literature has made a name for himself in double quick time. His first won numerous awards, and deservedly so. There is no doubt that this book will follow in its footsteps. He has incredible timing in plotting the action, a macabre wit and an uncanny ability to move the action forward with trailing bubbles and waving seaweed. He gives each of his characters expressive eyes that tell their story, and creates a world of darkness where comeuppance is the rule. Is there safety 'where the plants grow big and tall and close together'?
I will leave you to find out for yourself.

Bravo, Jon Klassen!  I'll be here patiently waiting for the next...

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