Thursday, November 8, 2012

Picture Books -- Day 7

I read I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen to my first-grader's class today.  I fell in love with this book last year -- actually, a whole lot of people did (except for the ones who hated it) -- and my kids thought it was the funniest book of the year, but I was a little nervous to read it to the first-graders because I wasn't sure how they would react.  I needn't have worried.

Bear's hat is missing, so he asks each animal he encounters if they have seen it.  Instead of using "bear said" or "he said" to show who is speaking, dialogue is colored -- black for the bear, brown for the fox, green for the frog, red for the rabbit, and so forth.  As a read-aloud, this book needs different voices to distinguish the characters, but that also makes it really entertaining for kids.  After bear has asked several animals if they know where his hat is, he realizes (with the help of deer) that he actually DOES know where it is.  And that's where the funny part comes in.  I love books that are funny without having to hit kids over the head with the joke.  This books lets readers (or listeners) discover the joke on their own, making it that much funnier.

Digital and ink illustrations with plenty of white space keep the focus the characters.  Klassen does an amazing job of expressing emotion with subtle differences to the eyes.  The bear generally keeps a deadpan stare, but a little widening of his eyes show the realization that he knows where his hat is.  Then the eyes narrow as determination to get it back sets in.

I Want My Hat Back won the E.B White Read-Aloud Award for Picture Books last year and was a Geisel Award Honor book.

When I turned to the final page in the book today, the first-graders had a range of reactions:  some quietly gasped, others giggled, and (SPOILER ALERT) one boy burst out, "He ATE the rabbit!"

Yep, they got it.

I Want My Hat Back
by Jon Klassen
published by Candlewick Press
September 2011


  1. Without a doubt, one of our favorites!

  2. I think the non-emotion of the bear is half the fun of the story.