Jon Klassen garnered critical acclaim for his wickedly amusing debut picture book, I Want My Hat Back (2011). The Ontario-born author/illustrator follows up that success with another sly tale that will have children and adults clamouring for more.
This Is Not My Hat introduces readers to a new cast of animal characters – and a new hat. The story is told from the point of view of a small, plucky fish who boldly snatches a stylish blue bowler off the head of a much, much larger fish, whom the little guy assumes is deeply asleep. The hat thief confidently swims away, bowler jauntily perched atop his head, assured in his belief that there is zero chance of being caught. Of course, fans of Klassen’s work will know better, and delight in trying to guess the outcome as the story progresses. Klassen does not disappoint, crafting a conclusion that is just as delicious (ahem) as that of his previous book.
The story’s prose is simple, effective, and perfectly timed to complement the visuals. Every precocious declaration made by the tiny fish is followed by an amusing spread that suggests he may not have everything figured out after all. Klassen’s signature illustrations pack an expertly delivered punch. Subtle metallic colours set against a black background provide just the right amount of contrast to make the underwater world shimmer without distracting from the narration.
Older readers will smile at the similarities between the book’s guileless hat-thief hero and the young people in their lives, while younger readers will undoubtedly find the tiny fish’s naivety more humorous with each read. Make no mistake: this is another “hat story” that will be requested by children over and over again before bedtime, during story hours, and in the classroom. Mr. Klassen, hats off to you.