I Want My Hat Back
by Jon Klassen
Poor Bear! He lost his beloved hat and just wants it back. He begins a quest to reunite with his red, pointy chapeau. For the most part, I loved this book. The story had genuinely funny moments. Additionally, I don’t remember reading many children’s books structured in this way. Instead of the traditional third person voice, this book begins in first person, with much of the rest of the book told through dialogue as Bear meets other animals in the forest and asks if they’ve seen his hat.
Without a doubt, I loved the illustrations. Bear’s face is so deadpan despite his lack of success. The clever drawings show which animals might be lying despite their words, and I think kids 4 to 8, the publisher’s recommended ages, as well as adult readers, will find it funny to see how some of the other animals are either involved in their own problems or hiding the truth from Bear.
Bear’s words are in black and the words of other animals are in a contrasting color. I really giggled at some of the responses animals had when Bear asked if they’d seen his hat. I think my favorite must be “What’s a hat?” though the snake’s “I saw a hat once. It was blue and round” came close! Though Bear misses his hat and is undoubtedly frustrated, he is also unfailingly polite, until he remembers a clue he missed. When the realization dawns on him, the accompanying image is tinted red, like a red alert siren.
Bear’s response is on the surface amusing but also condones revenge over reconciliation. Additionally, I worry that the book prizes material possessions over relationships. Those issues, however, can be used as teaching lessons, and with all the other wonderful aspects of the book, I Want My Hat Back is a title I’m going to be giving away to my favorite children!
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From the Farm Sanctuary:
If California Prop 12 passes, it will help prevent some of the worst forms of cruel confinement of animals on farms in California and beyond. Although this measure won’t end factory farming, it will criminalize some of the most egregious industry practices and will ban the sale of certain animal derived consumer products in California. On November 6, vote #Yeson12, and SHARE this to encourage your friends in California to do the same! More at: https://bit.ly/2NnvU65. Yes on Prop 12 – Prevent Cruelty California
My husband, George, is a winemaker in the Finger Lakes region, at a winery on the east side of Seneca Lake, across the lake from where this book takes place. Reading a book about our area and about the industry in which my husband works appealed to me, and it was fun to see the local small towns mentioned. While not everything about the wine industry was accurate, it does show readers a little of what goes on before the wine is poured into a glass. (Though, knowing what it takes to become a winemaker, I do quibble with the fact that there are so many inexperienced winemakers in the novel.)
In A Taste for Death, Gerard Bellamont, a prominent wine critic is murdered with a trellis wire; his body is found in the vineyard of a newly opened winery. Inspector Louis Deville of the Violent Crimes Investigative Team is assigned as lead on the case. Deville came to the United States from France with a so far incurable case of amnesia due to alcohol poisoning and can’t partake of the wine that is so ubiquitous in the region, though perhaps that gives him a clear head to untangle the vined motives and relationships around Gerard since he was even better at offending people than he was writing, and he left a long trail of enemies.
Though the setting is enjoyable, otherwise, the book is a bit of a mess and would have benefited from a strong editor. There are several typos (though this may be limited to the Kindle edition) and incorrect word usage. More seriously, the text contains grammatical and stylistic errors and is littered with cliches. Additionally, the writing can be amateurish as well as confusing and unclear. At times, it read as a poor translation into English. Furthermore, the narrative is inconsistent, especially when it comes to character traits. Characters are confident then falling apart on the turn on dime; characters are imbeciles but are hardworking and good at what they do. Sadly, I must recommend skipping this book.