Allison's Book Bag

This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen

Posted on: February 12, 2014

I first encountered Jon Klassen’s work while browsing picture books at Barnes & Noble. When deciding on what award-winners to feature this month, I saw Klassen listed for the 2013 award. Immediately, I jumped at the opportunity to review This is Not My Hat. It’s an easy read, with fun pictures that help forward the story.

This is Not My Hat features a rather brazen little fish. He’s sporting a hat that he stole. Not only that but this fish isn’t the least bit repentant. Moreover, he’s pretty sure he’s going to get away with his crime. Maybe I shouldn’t like this little brown fish, but I do. He’s so cocky and confidant. And yet not in a flashy in-your-face way. This little fish reminds me of the time our little Lhaso Apso ran right up to a dog three times his size. Not only did he run up to him, but he barked at him as if to play or perhaps to protect us. Well, this little fish stole the hat while the big fish was asleep. And now he’s boasting about it, but really you might too if you pulled off a heist against a giant. You can’t help but root for him. Or least wonder what will happen next, like in all delightfully tantalizing stories.


Of course, there’s a problem with my parallel. Even if our dog was foolhardy, he didn’t actually act bad. The brazen little fish stole. That’s a crime. We might not want young readers to think theft is okay. The little fish might excuse his actions by saying it’s too small for the big fish. (And it is.) He might say it fits him just right. (And it does.) But the truth is he wanted a hat. He took it. And that was wrong. But…. I trust that young readers will have enough sense to just enjoy the story. (Like I did.)

Apparently, one of the reasons that the Caldecott committee liked This is Not My Hat is that “with minute changes in eyes and the slightest displacement of seagrass, Klassen’s masterful illustrations tell the story the narrator doesn’t know”. I’m not an art critic. I often feel awkward discussing artwork even in picture books. But I can tell you that I enjoyed the simple and soft-colored artwork in This is Not My Hat. Moreover, I loved the wonderful way that the pictures foreshadowed the story’s end. For example, all the while the fish is telling readers that he’s not worried about the fact someone saw him steal the hat, we are seeing that the lobster is a two-faced snitch. There will be irony to come before the final page. Watch the plants, the shadows, the bubbles.

Sometimes when I discuss literature with my students, I ask them why they think the author choose a particular medium. This is Not My Hat is a perfect example of how words and illustrations interconnect to make the picture book unique. Neither could stand alone to make such a perfect tale. Check Klassen out. He’s Canadian and he’s good!

My rating? Read it: Borrow from your library or a friend. It’s worth your time.

How would you rate this book?

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