Friday 17 August 2012

Book of the Week - "I Want My Hat Back" by Jon Klassen (Walker Books)

So many times we hear publicists and publishers claiming that such and such a book is "The Next Gruffalo" or "The Next Very Hungry Caterpillar" but seldom few match up to such classics. I'm not going to tell you that "I Want My Hat Back" is the next anything, it's the first "Hat" book by Jon Klassen (he's since written and illustrated another called "This Is Not My Hat") and it's undoubtedly a book that is destined to become a true children's classic.

Quite simply, it blew our socks off here at ReadItDaddy because it's such a simple idea but executed with the precision of a surgeon's scalpel, the wit of an intelligent comedy play, and with illustrations that look deceptively simple but work on so many levels. Now and again we come across books that give us food for thought, trigger off debates and discussions or have us thinking about their impact all week. This is such a book.

It's the story of a bear, a fairly daft looking and docile chap who's in the deepest depression because he's lost his hat.

To try and break out of his deep blue funk, he proceeds to visit all the animals in his locale, asking if they've seen his hat anywhere. Each time he's disappointed, but offers up a polite "OK, thank you anyway" until he realises something. He has seen his hat!

What happens next is just too deliciously subtle and brilliant for me to spoil it for you here but if you find a copy of this book in your local library (as we did) or you find a copy in your local bookshop, grab it with both hands, hand over your library ticket or your money, and take it home and cuddle it. You wont be disappointed, but more importantly your children (no matter what their age) won't be disappointed either because it just works so beautifully for kids from 1 to 100.

In my head, Bear has a voice a bit like David Walliams' annoying bookshop customer on "Little Britain" - Slightly daft and a bit thick, with a zombie-like stare straight ahead as he asks each animals whether they've seen his hat. It's a work of comedy genius, it also has one of the greatest pay-offs I've ever seen in a children's picture book.

I can't understate how utterly fantastic this book is, so naturally it's our book of the week in a week where once again we've really been spoilt for choice and have seen and read some really brilliant children's picture books. Jon Klassen, you sir are a genius!

Charlotte's best bit: Can't tell you, it'd spoil the book.

Daddy's favourite bit: The bear's expression. It rarely changes, but in that expression - that simple set of shapes, bear manages to imbue the reader with the sense that he's really deeply sad and depressed. Such beautiful work. Also loved the payoff but as above, can't tell you, it'd spoil the book!

Rating: If I could give this 10 out of 5 I would. But 5 out of 5 stars, Book of the Week