Wednesday, 30 January 2013

This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen

Oh the fish book!  I've been biding my time to feature a Jon Klassen book and then he up and wins the Caledcott Medal this year so I had to act!

Like most picture book lovers, we're big fans of Jon Klassen at our house. Both I Want My Hat Back and This Is Not My Hat are among E's nightly requests and usually get read in quick succession.

Just open the cover, take in those endpapers and let yourself fall in love with a book. This Is Not My Hat tells the tale of a little fish who swipes a little blue hat from a sleeping big fish (or so little fish thinks).  Little fish thinks he's gotten away with the perfect crime and makes for the place 'where the plants grow big and tall and close together'.  He thinks he can hide here unnoticed.  He thinks no one saw him swim away. He does admit it's wrong to steal, but he thinks it's actually kind of ok because the hat fits him better anyway. Unfortunately for him, he thinks all the wrong things.

Big fish is on his tail all the while and cunningly follows the trail of little fish bubbles into the plants. He emerges victorious wearing his hat.  Klassen is clever here and though we don't see the action, we know that little fish has been gobbled up.

It's a fitting moral that's refreshingly subtle in how it's presented. The final pages of the book only feature illustrations and it gives the reader a chance to talk about what's just happened. It's like a silent film and it works like magic here.  You watch this story happen as much as you read it.

E kind of figured out for himself that the little fish gets gobbled up in the end.  I realised early on that he associates this book with a nursery rhyme called Slippery Fish where sea creatures gobble each other up.  I think it makes for a healthy does of artful reality. E's even found a small plastic blue bowl that he's taken to wearing on his head just like little fish's hat. Thankfully so far there are no big fish following him around. Congratulations John Klassen and thanks for a beautiful book!

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