Awards: 2013 Caldecott Medal
About the Author: Jon Klassen graduated from Sheridan College Insitute of Technology in 2005 with a degree in animation. After graduating, Klassen began his career as a concept artist for Dreamworks and Laika Studios. During this time, Klassen worked on projects such as the film adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s novel Coraline. Within the past several years, Klassen turned his attention to illustration where he took the world by storm. Illustration projects include: Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place by Maryrose Woods, House Held up by Trees by Ted Kooser (Pulitzer Prize winner), and I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen (won Canada’s 2010 Governor General’s Award and the recipient of the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award Honor Book selection). Since then, Klassen has worked on several popular children’s books. The most recent being The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen.
Plot: This witty and charming picture storybook recounts the tale of a small fish who has stolen a hat from a much bigger fish. Who also happened to be sleeping at the time of the theft. It is quite possible the smaller fish will get away with this misdeed. Assuming, of course, the victim continues sleeping…and even if he does wake up it is not like he will know who took his hat. Or where to find the tiny thief.
Analysis: This is Not My Hat can be classified as a Story Picture Book since it employs both illustrations and text to tell the story. Similar to Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, Klassen uses half full-bleed, unframed layouts that lead the reader to four full-bleed layouts. The final layouts depict the story’s conclusion. The unframed layout Klassen employees provides the reader with a more connected reading experience. “Unframed, the illustration constitutes a total experience, “the view within’” (p. 89). Oftentimes throughout the book, the illustrations are placed beneath the text; creating further tension for readers. The combination of a black background and darker hues makes Klassen’s illustrations stand out. In order to convey a broader range of emotion, many illustrators will include eyebrows when portraying animals during the illustration process. Jon Klassen uses a minimalistic illustration style to convey a wide range of character emotion to his audience. This is Not My Hat is a perfect example of irony portrayed in a picture book. The illustrations contradict the smaller fish’s stream of conscious portrayed in the text.
Curriculum Connection: This book is an ideal tool educators can use to teach their K-3 students about the different aspects of humor and to understand high frequency words. With the help of a teach or librarian, students can practice “recognizing, decoding, and spelling high frequency words”. (online resource) To help students become more conceptually engaged with the story, educators can create crossword puzzles for their students and encourage them to create their own hats.