Sunday, December 2, 2012

This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen

My original review of I Want My Hat Back says, “Sometimes - no, oftentimes - the simplest books end up being the best books.” I then went on to summarize the book in five lines.

Jon Klassen’s next hat book is not a sequel. It's more of a companion book. Either way the line from the previous review holds true. Simple stories make great books. Here is a 100% complete summary of This Is Not My Hat. Eh-hem...

1. A little fish has stolen a hat from a big fish.
2. The little fish is unrepentant and rationalizes his deed.
3. The little fish confides in the reader and one other marine critter.
4. A permanent home is determined for the hat.

The little fish readily admits what he has done on the first page. “This hat is not mine. I just stole it.” The little fish then goes through a litany of reasons why he will get away with his theft. He does not necessarily tell why it was okay to steal the hat, but clearly believes that getting away with it is justification enough.

As the little fish goes through his reasons, it’s the illustrations that complete the story. The little fish explains that the big fish was sleeping when the theft occurred, “and he probably won’t wake up for a long time.” Oh, really? Check the illustrations.

But so what if he does wake up? “He probably won’t notice that it’s gone.” Uh-huh. Right.

Can the little fish make it to “where the plants are big and tall and close together?” Will the big fish even realize his hat is missing? Is the little fish’s confidence warranted or will he be called to account for his crime?

Just as in I Want My Hat Back, the conclusion in This Is Not My Hat is somewhat open ended. Yes, readers know what happens to the hat, but there’s still plenty left open to interpretation. Readers will have fun filling in all the possible details about what happens “where the plants are big and tall and close together.”

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