The best picture books are the ones in which the pictures and the words add up to something more than the sum of their parts. It’s where the illustrations aren’t just depicting the story, and the words aren’t just describing the pictures. (I suppose the same can be said for comic books, too.)
Jon Klassen’s new picture book I Want My Hat Back is one such book. It’s the story of a bear and his missing hat.
The bear, as seen on the cover, visits various animals to see if they’ve seen his hat. He (and all of the animals) tend to have this deadpan expression the whole time, which gives the book a slow, solemn tone … until the bear remembers where he’s seen his hat.
I read this to my kids, and they absolutely loved it. They couldn’t stop giggling, and wanted me to re-read it as soon as we finished. My older daughter liked it so much she had to tell her mom the entire plot over the phone. It’s a very short book, without a lot of dialogue, but the pacing is perfect and the twist ending is, well, a little twisted. I love the artwork, which has a watercolor look to it, mostly in muted browns and greys, and it’s amazing how much expression Klassen can give the bear just with his eyes (and the accompanying text).
I Want My Hat Back will be released next week (September 27); you can preorder it on Amazon now.
For a little taste of the book, watch the video trailer below:
Disclosure: Candlewick Press provided an advance review copy of this book.