Monday, March 18, 2013

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen is my current favorite Golden Archer nominee and, possibly, one of my favorite children's picture books of all times. Klassen's assumes his readers possess a certain level of sophistication that allows them to appreciate dark humor. C.S. Lewis said "No book is worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally (and often far more) worth reading at the age of fifty." This is so true of this picture book. Like Mo Willems, Klassen understands that the adults who read the stories to the children truly appreciate humor as well, and so he doesn't dumb down his book or tame it to make it palatable for children. There are many examples in children's literature of books in which their very darkness is part of their appeal. This is one of those books. I read it to all of my kindergarten and first grade classes with the other Golden Archer nominees. While reading the book, some of the children loved it. Others were horrified (spoiler) that the rabbit was eaten. But those boys and girls who have a little bit of  Sendak's "Wild Things" in them loved it. Just this morning, I counted up the votes. I Want My Hat Back won. This book is pure genius and a delight. Just be prepared with an alternate explanation for the rabbit's fate if you have any tender hearted children in your audience.

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