Thursday, 13 October 2011

A Picture Book Review

I Want My Hat Back
by Jon Klassen

It was with great excitement that the staff at Shearer's Bookshop picked up I Want My Hat Back, the latest work by Jon Klassen. This is his first time writing as well as illustrating (you may recognise his style from The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place by Maryrose Wood). For his first writing job he has given us a dramatic crime noir story, implemented with great skill and subtlety in the unusual form of a children's picture book. Klassen's premise is simple, but it is displayed with the deft skill of a wordsmith and the illustrations of a true talent in the world of watercolours. The main narrator, a bear, wants his hat back. Has he lost it? Has it been stolen? These questions and more will plague you until the book's gripping finale.

Now if you're anything like us, this adventure into the seedy underbelly of a seemingly picturesque woodland grove might come as some surprise to you. It might even seem that the themes of loss and self-discovery are overshadowed by theft and revenge but Klassen has thrown aside the traditions of contemporary story telling and presents us with just dialogue in the text, leaving his evocative and yet simple illustrations to evoke our sympathies on behalf of the bear, and our suspicions of these cunning forest creatures.

This exceptional work is not a 'whodunnit' but is instead replete with themes that will resonate and leave the reader pondering how so many ideas, such as examinations of animal rights and capital punishment, can fit into a work only 40 pages long. Especially one so exquisitely told with the light brushstroke of a master of subtlety and sly humour. But be warned, the blurb might give away the ending.

Basically, this review is not serious but this book is completely awesome. Read it.

Written by Elissa

I Want my Hat Back is available now

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