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!