I’m counting these two books as only one review because, while not in fact a series, the hat motif is a theme that the author/ illustrator seems to be exploring. My review will likely contain more words than the 2 books combined. A third Hat book called We Found A Hat was released in October 2016. It will be my Xmas gift to myself!
When I worked at the bookstore, I chose This Is Not My Hat book as my staff pick and sold it to anyone I could. I talked about it so much that when I Want My Hat Back appeared after I no longer worked there, a former colleague called me up to tell me I needed it. She was right.
This is not my hat.
The blurb of this book says it all: A small fish has stolen a hat. And he’ll probably get away with it. Probably.
I love this book. It is so simple and so wonderful. The illustrations are fantastic. They tell the story as much as the words do. The little fish narrates his crime and escape from the big fish that is the true owner of the Hat, while unbeknownst to him, he is being pursued and betrayed. Spoiler Alert: Things do not end well for the little fish-thief.
The author/ illustrator Jon Klassen won the Caldecott Medal for this book, which was a follow up to I Want My Hat Back. My heart belongs to This Is Not My Hat because I encountered it first, though.
I Want My Hat Back.
This is the story of a bear who has lost his hat and wants it back. As he searches, he questions animals he encounters about his missing hat. Most of them answer him honestly about their knowledge of his hat and hats in general, except one shady character… Spoiler Alert: The bear gets his hat back. The shady character does not fare well.
What I love about these books are how the illustrations and words work together to create a kind of clever adult undercurrent to the story. The thieves both get their come-uppance at the hands of their victims. The bear is clearly a little, shall we say, chubbier? after he confronts the thief, who is never seen again. This ending was considered controversial, but the author has said that he saw no other way for it to end. I don’t think it’s particularly surprising and in no way is it apparent to a child what has happened. Not that I think it would be a problem for a child, to be honest. Kids are pretty blood thirsty and appreciate well-deserved justice, in my experience.