“Don’t ask me any more questions.”
I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen. Published by Candlewick.
I think the best way to tell you about I Want My Hat Back is to describe my family’s reaction to it. I was sent a review copy by the publisher (the official pub date is Sept. 27), and I began reading it right out of the package, standing in the living room. A bear has lost his hat, and he wants it back. He asks a fox; the fox hasn’t seen it. He asks a frog; no luck there either. He asks a rabbit—a rabbit who happens to be wearing a pointy red hat.
“No. Why are you asking me,” replies the rabbit. “I haven’t seen it. I haven’t seen any hats anywhere. I would not steal a hat. Don’t ask me any more questions.”
By this point I’m laughing out loud and I have to go right away and show the book to the rest of my family. This book is begging to be read aloud by a daddy like Scott.
They’re in the kitchen, Scott and my three older girls, ages ten, twelve, and sixteen. I thrust the book before their faces, you’ve got to read this, and we stand there turning the pages together. At the rabbit’s remarks, the girls burst out laughing. The animals’ deadpan expressions and terse, uninflected dialogue make this exchange viciously funny.
We’re huddled around the book, reading on silently. The bear asks many more animals, with no success, and finally flops down in the grass and stares at the sky. My poor hat. I miss it so much.
And then the bear remembers where he’s seen it. I’m not going to say what happens after that, but it made my daughters shriek with laughter and shock, even the teenager. My husband gasped. I howled. Rilla, when we read it to her later, chortled wickedly.
I don’t think everyone will approve of the ending. I’ve had three-year-olds who would be very upset by the turn of events. Most six-year-olds I’ve known would, I think, embrace it with glee.
Today I tweeted, “I really want to write about a certain book but various children keep spiriting it away from my stack.”
And my husband replied: “I have not seen that book. I would not take that book. I don’t know what a book is. Stop asking me questions about a book.”
Better watch out, rabbit.
Updated: How Rilla was inspired by the art.