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I Want My Hat Back
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I Want My Hat Back

4.1 26
by Jon Klassen

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A New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Book of 2011!

A picture-book delight by a rising talent tells a cumulative tale with a mischievous twist.

The bear's hat is gone, and he wants it back. Patiently and politely, he asks the animals he comes across, one by one, whether they have seen it. Each animal says no, some more elaborately than


A New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Book of 2011!

A picture-book delight by a rising talent tells a cumulative tale with a mischievous twist.

The bear's hat is gone, and he wants it back. Patiently and politely, he asks the animals he comes across, one by one, whether they have seen it. Each animal says no, some more elaborately than others. But just as the bear begins to despond, a deer comes by and asks a simple question that sparks the bear's memory and renews his search with a vengeance. Told completely in dialogue, this delicious take on the classic repetitive tale plays out in sly illustrations laced with visual humor-- and winks at the reader with a wry irreverence that will have kids of all ages thrilled to be in on the joke.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In his first outing as an author, Klassen's (Cats' Night Out) words and artwork are deliberately understated, with delectable results. Digitally manipulated ink paintings show a slow-witted bear asking half a dozen forest animals if they've seen his hat. Unadorned lines of type, printed without quotation marks or attributions, parallel the sparse lines Klassen uses for the forest's greenery. Most of the answers the bear gets are no help ("What's a hat?" one animal asks), but the rabbit's answer arouses suspicion: "I haven't seen any hats anywhere. I would not steal a hat. Don't ask me any more questions." In a classic double-take, the bear doesn't notice the hat on the rabbit's head until several pages on: "I have seen my hat," he realizes, wide-eyed. Readers with delicate sensibilities may object to the implied conclusion ("I would not eat a rabbit," the bear says stoutly, his hat back on his head, the forest floor showing signs of a scuffle), but there is no objecting to Klassen's skillful characterizations; though they're simply drawn and have little to say, each animal emerges fully realized. A noteworthy debut. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
You know, bears may stand for adults in some way, because they're big, they're ungainly, they're goofy. They're like most of us grownups. But the bear in this book paws down; he's got to be the dimmest, most slow-witted, brilliantly stupid bear to come along in years. I really love him.
—NPR Weekend Edition

A marvelous book in the true dictionary sense of "marvel": it is a wonderful and astonishing thing, the kind of book that makes child laugh and adult chuckle, and both smile in appreciation. A charmingly wicked little book.
—The New York Times

Four pages into this charmer, every kindergartner will know where the bear's missing hat is - but they'll never predict the hilarious revenge he takes on the thief.
—People Magazine

Deliberately understated, with delectable results... Skillful characterizations; though they're simply drawn and have little to say, each animal emerges fully realized.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Children's Literature - Heidi Hauser Green
“Did he, or didn’t he?” That question has been the focus of more than one conversation since the children and I first read Klassen’s investigative tale together. Bear, a nondescript fellow with a flat affect, it looking for a hat he has lost. He proceeds through the area, asking one woodland inhabitant after another. Unlike the many cumulative picture books that rely on repetition, this book relies on novelty. Each creature replies to Bear in a different and unique way. Fox tells him “No. I haven’t seen your hat.” Turtle tells him “I haven’t seen anything all day. I have been trying to climb this rock.” (Bear genially offers to lift him on top of the rock.) Rabbit perhaps protests too much—“I haven’t seen it. I haven’t seen any hats anywhere. I would not steal a hat.” is only part of it—but Bear accepts his words at face value and ambles off to ask the next animal. Later, a few minutes’ reflection causes him to recall that he has seen his hat. The background is awash with an angry red and the font all caps as Bear realizes just who has his hat. Later, Bear has his hat. And, when Squirrel asks if he has seen “a rabbit wearing a hat,” Bear has the perfect response: “I haven’t seen him. I haven’t seen any rabbits anywhere. I would not eat a rabbit.” Or would he? Narrator Daniel Pinkwater creates a sense of drama in his reading of this delicious, vaguely menacing tale. This book has been recognized by the New York Times Book Review as a “Best Illustrated Children’s Book,” and it has been named a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book. The honors are richly deserved. Reviewer: Heidi Hauser Green; Ages 2 to 8.
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Our narrator, a stodgy bear, discovers that his hat is gone and wants it back. As he searches for it, he politely asks a fox, a frog, and finally a rabbit if they have seen it. They insist that they have not; the rabbit is even annoyed at being asked. The bear keeps searching and asking, fearing he will never find it. When he describes his lost hat to a reindeer, however, he suddenly recalls where he has seen it. And of course, so do we. Back he runs, past all the other animals, to the rabbit. "YOU STOLE MY HAT," he declares. Back on his head it goes. "I love my hat," he contentedly remarks. On the final text page, however, a squirrel is asking him whether he has seen a rabbit in a hat. In a role reversal, the bear denies it, the squirrel thanks him, and we wonder. A sort of abstract image of a bear confronts us on the jacket, created digitally and in Chinese ink, as are all the other animal characters. Aside from a few rocks and woody plants there is no setting. The bear speaks in large dark type; the others answer in different colors. This makes the small red triangle of the hat very easy to spot. The front end pages depict all the animals, including the hatless bear, in tones of brown. The scene is repeated on the back end pages with the red hat back atop the bear's head. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 1–3—Readers may be too young to know Nixon's famous line, "I am not a crook," but they'll surely figure out that someone here is not telling the truth. Bear has lost his hat and asks various creatures if they have seen it, with pronounced civility. Snake goes offtrack (and will also throw inattentive listeners offtrack) by announcing he's seen a blue and round hat. Rabbit vigorously denies having seen anything like it, despite evidence to the contrary. Armadillo asks, "What is a hat?" Bear is flung into despair until a young deer asks, "What does your hat look like?" Bear starts to describe it and immediately realizes he has seen it. The following page is painted red with anger. Readers realize they have seen it, too! Bear confronts the culprit and what happens next is a matter of interpretation. Violence is implied, but only indirectly. The Chinese ink illustrations are understated and stylized, and the pages are a natural sandy hue throughout. The dialogue is not in quotations but in contrasting colors. Wisps of grass, rocks, small branches, and specks of dirt compose the setting. Read aloud, this story will offer many sublime insights into how young readers comprehend an illustrated text that leaves out vital information, and will leave young sleuths reeling with theories about what just happened.—Sara Lissa Paulson, American Sign Language and English Lower School PS 347, New York City
Kirkus Reviews

Klassen's coy effort combines spare illustration, simple, repetitive text and a "payback's a bear" plot.

A somber, sepia-toned bear longs for his missing hat and questions a series of forest animals about its whereabouts. While everyone denies seeing it, a rabbit (sporting, readers will note, a pointy red chapeau) protests a bit too indignantly. Ten pages on, as the bear describes his hat for a solicitous deer, realization hits: "I HAVE SEEN MY HAT." The accompanying illustration shows the indignant bear suffused in the page's angry red. There's the subsequent dash and confrontation, followed by bear in hat and rabbit—well, nowhere to be seen. Klassen's ink-and-digital creatures, similarly almond-eyed and mouth-less, appear stiff and minimalist against creamy white space. Foliage is suggested with a few ink strokes (though it's quite bashed-up after rabbit goes missing). The text type, New Century Schoolbook, intentionally evokes the visually comfy, eminently readable design of 1960s children's primers. Font colors correlate with the animals' dialogue as well as the illustrations' muted color palette, and the four-sentence denials (first rabbit's, then bear's) structurally echo each other. Indubitably hip, this will find plenty of admirers. Others might react to a certain moral vapidity. And the littlest ones will demand to know where the heck that rabbit went.

Cynical on wry. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pamela Paul
I Want My Hat Back is a marvelous book in the true dictionary sense of "marvel": it is a wonderful and astonishing thing, the kind of book that makes child laugh and adult chuckle, and both smile in appreciation…It may take younger children a few readings to understand the story in full, but when they do, they will savor it all the more. Adult readers, for their part, will surely anticipate Klassen's next picture book in the same way they yearn for a new Mo Willems or relish a William Steig classic. This is a charmingly wicked little book and the debut of a promising writer-illustrator talent.
—The New York Times

Product Details

Candlewick Press
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.20(w) x 11.10(h) x 0.50(d)
90L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Jon Klassen received the 2010 Canadian Governor General's Award for his illustrations in Caroline Stutson's CAT'S NIGHT OUT. He also created illustrations for the popular series THE INCORRIGIBLE CHILDREN OF ASHTON PLACE and served as an illustrator on the animated feature film Coraline. I WANT MY HAT BACK is the first book he has both written and illustrated. Originally from Niagara Falls, Canada, he lives in Los Angeles.

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I Want My Hat Back 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
Coppertop429 More than 1 year ago
Great illustrations--that expression!--with a simple, easy-to-follow storyline that will keeps kids AND parents/teachers/librarians laughing. Highly recommended.
cant_read_enough More than 1 year ago
I'm a teacher & mom of 3, & when I read this book, I laughed out loud & immediately shared it w/a co-worker. My 6 & 8 yr olds LOVED it! Lots of laughter, followed by an immediate, "Let's read it again!" The text is simple enough that they wanted to read it themselves this time, and I LOVE that the bear's words are in 1 color & the other animal's words in another, so my children needed no cues to each read their part. To the negative reviewers, I have to wonder about your presentation of the book. Did you stop to look at the pictures during the story? Did you use expression? Have you ever read a Mo Willems Elephant & Piggie book, and if so, did you find those funny? As for the review about rudeness and violence...???!!! The bear responds to every animal with "Ok, thank you anyway", (it says Thank you, anyway SIX times in this book!),and he offers to help the turtle, who politely responds, "Yes, please." There is nothing violent about the book either! Only an implied (and normal by the laws of nature, actually!) and very funny ending. I will be sharing this book with my 1st grade class, my own children's classes, and buying some as gifts. Kind of a no-brainer that when kids find a book funny, beg to re-read it and act it out, and want to share it with friends, that this book is a treasure!
RockDog58 More than 1 year ago
If you have a sense of humor, you and your kids will love this book. One of my all time favorites.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We received two copies as gifts. My children (ages 4 to 8) found it just "OK, not funny and a bit frustrating." As an adult reading the book to a younger child, the illustrations were appealing but the text does not make it a favorite.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is funny for adults. I'm surprised it is being recommended for this age group.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book made me laugh out loud, so I had to buy it for my nephew. Such a fun read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was an instant family favorite - my son (2 1/2) loves to pretend to be a &quot;naughty rabbit&quot; and steals my husband's hat to start a game of chase. A thoroughly charming and wonderful book!
mraf More than 1 year ago
Wonderful illustration, and a good mix of small and large words for the new reader. My four year old was able to read a good 70% of it, and it opened the door for him to learn some new words, as well.
waterbird More than 1 year ago
bzybee31 More than 1 year ago
My daughter loved this book!! She donated it to her school library!
ChatWithVera More than 1 year ago
 I Want My Hat Back has justly won multiple awards. Written and illustrated for young children, adults reading this book filled with droll art will enjoy the subtle humor.  The repeated phrase Have you seen my hat? asked by bear of a variety of woodland critters is expressionless. The replies of the critters are simple and varied. No conversational punctuation is used in the book but varied colored text for the replies is done. Manners are gentle and good behavior by all is evident. Bear finally has an &quot;ah-ha&quot; moment when he realizes he has seen his hat. He realizes he has been lied to by one of the critters. The realization moment is captured using vivid red on the page as opposed to the basic sand colored pages and browns of the other pages. Bear races back to the one he realizes has his hat. No harsh scenes are given but a subtle indication that the offending critter has justly met his &quot;bear-end&quot; is crafted in the art. DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary book by Candlewick Press in exchange for my review. Opinions expressed are my own. I received no compensation for this review.
Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
I have to laugh when I think about this book. There are many things I like about it but there is one disturbing thing that hung in the air and to me, it&rsquo;s could be pretty major for little kids. What I liked: 1. Look at bear &ndash; doesn&rsquo;t he make you smile? I am not sure if he really looks like a bear or not but just his stance, the spots on his fur, and the proportion of his body. I am attractive to this beast. 2. The text &ndash; the text is big and bold and when each individual animal talks the text changes color on that page. Who doesn&rsquo;t like that? 3. The language &ndash; I reminds me of Dr. Seuss. &ldquo;Have you seen my hat?&rdquo; &ldquo;No, I haven&rsquo;t seen your hat.&rdquo; &ldquo;OK. Thank you anyway.&rsquo; &ndash;short and sweet and lots of manners. 4. Text vs. picture- one side is text and one side is the accompany picture &ndash; easy to follow and read 5. Animals &ndash; I like the simple illustrations. Bear kindly asks each animal if they have seen his red pointy hat (snake, fox, bunny, frog, turtle, and mole) and they each carry on a small conversation with him. Exhausted, he rests and talks to deer. He finally realizes he has seen his hat and he rushes back to confront one of the animals. Bear loves his hat. There are lessons about life in here and one of them could be disturbing to some children. Watch out for what bear does when he finds his red hat. Older readers will think nothing of it but younger readers might not be ready for it. Perhaps you might want to skip that page or add on an additional ending, there&rsquo;s too much to like about his book to miss it.
librarylady1 More than 1 year ago
Returned this. Lying, rudeness, violence. Too much baggage for a children's book. Big disappointment.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love Klassen's illustrations and characters.
Brunette_Librarian More than 1 year ago
      Always a favorite of mine, I adore I Want My Hat Back. A simple story about a bear just looking for his hat and the rabbit who may, or may not have taken it. With easy, simple language and uncomplicated drawings, Klassen weaves an adorable tale for children and adults alike.        Perfect for storytimes or one on one readings with children, I adore this story. This bear walks around the forest, asking about his red pointy hat. After asking a snake, a turtle, and other animals, he asks this rabbit where his hat might be. Coincidentally, the rabbit is wearing a red hat but has no idea where red hats come from. Children enjoy figuring out the mystery before the bear but ultimately, its just a sweet charming story that will make you smile. 
psycheKK More than 1 year ago
This is a fun, quirky little book. Most reviewers/purchasers loved this book because of the twisted ending. Some hated it because they felt the ending suspended reality too much (as if talking animals didn't do that already). Anyway, the talking bear is wonderfully polite, if not terribly understanding. The illustrations, not surprisingly, are fun and quirky. So the only real surprise is the ending, and I'm not telling you what it is.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is so fantastic, and we love reading it with our son. Sure, it's a little twisted, but we find it highly entertaining and my son gets so excited about finding the bear's hat. We love giving each animal its own special voice/accent, which makes the story even more fun. A must-read!
EngineeringMom More than 1 year ago
I only wish that authors wrote such hilarious short stories for adults. My husband and I both laughed uproariously at this book and look forward to giving it to our toddler son for his birthday.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the most glorious book I have ever read. If you don't think that it's amazingly hilarious and perfect then you do not have a soul.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
bluebirdfarmlady More than 1 year ago
Simple story with simple illustrations. Polite conversations between the bear and numerous animals as he searches for his missing hat. The ending has an unusual twist to it. My reaction was.....what? I'm eager to read it to a child to see what his reaction or comments are.
KATHRYNPICKLES More than 1 year ago