‘I Want My Hat Back’ by Jon Klassen Is a Picture Book that Will Make Children Think and Infer


In “I Want My Hat Back,” Joh Klassen showcases his clever, simple illustrations of extremely stylized animals, one of whom is a bear who wants his hat back.

He approaches the other animals, and in simple text asks each one, “Have you seen my hat?” When they reply in the negative, he politely thanks them. The reader is able to see which animal is talking by noting the illustrator’s use of color. Bear’s words are in black, the other animals’ responses are in red.

The reader has no idea what the hat looks like. The fox and the frog have not seen Bear’s hat. The rabbit has on a red hat. His response is markedly different from the responses of the other animals, but he assures the bear that he has not seen his hat.

Finally, a deer asks what Bear’s hat looks like. Bear has an epiphany! He knows what happened to his hat. Bear recovers his hat. What happens to the rabbit who had stolen Bear’s hat? While Klassen doesn’t directly give the answer, parents and teachers will be able to use Bear’s response to teach inference to young readers. Bear’s response to a squirrel looking for rabbit says it all — if not directly.

Kids love books that make them think. They love books that have “secret” things that happen that the kids have to figure out. This is a must-have for any primary or even intermediate classroom. It’s about inference and being a good reader. It’s also about just reading a good book!

Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by Candlewick Press for review purposes.

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