Thursday, October 11, 2012

Book #285: I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

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A bear has lost his hat and he wants it back. He asks every animal that he encounters in the woods, but none of them have seen his hat. Not the turtle or the snake, the frog or the fox, not even the rabbit, who is wearing a red, pointy hat. The bear thinks all is lost until he begins to describe his hat to a deer, “It is red and pointy and…I HAVE SEEN MY HAT!” With a humorous twist of an ending, this book is sure to have kids and adults laughing at the wily rabbit and the determined bear.

This book, an E. B. White Read-Aloud Award winner and a Geisel honor book for beginning readers, feels modern and, dare I say it, hipster. Using Chinese ink and digital techniques, Klassen has created a sparse, neutral colored environment populated by dead-pan animals. The little red, pointy hat is the only spot of color in a landscape of browns, grays, and greens. The all dialogue text matches the straight-faced humor of the illustrations. Instead of quotation marks or speech bubbles Klassen differentiates speakers by using colored text. The bear speaks in black text and the other animals speak in a variety of browns, greens, and reds. Several pages are wordless; however the facial expressions ably communicate the thoughts of the animals, especially the bear. 

The most obvious connection is to use this book as part of a hat storytime. Try pairing it with other titles such as, Millie’s Marvellous Hat, The Magic Hat or Caps for Sale. Read Edward Lear’s nonsense poem, The Quangle Wangle’s Hat. Follow up by making pointy hats like the bear and the rabbit wear in the book. If you don't have time to make hats, buy a stack of red pointy birthday hats from a party store.

If you have elementary school aged kids or older play the camp game, This is a What? My mother taught me this game when I was young, but instead of using whits and watts, she used household objects – a spoon, a fork, a cup, a sock, a ball, etc. To tie it in with this book, use a hat or a red object. Start by going around in only one direction. Once all the kids have that figure out you can add a second object in the opposite direction, which takes a lot more concentration.

Other bloggers have suggested creating a reader’s theater script from this book and I enthusiastically support this idea. If you have more kids than animals you can have the bear ask a group of turtles or snakes about his hat or you could add a few more creatures.

Check out The Classroom Bookshelf Blog it has great suggestions for extension activities for kids K-8. The short book trailer (with a great soundtrack) created by Candlewick Press is also fun to watch.


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