• Happy birthday Crescent Dragonwagon (Alligator Arrived with Apples, Home Place), Marc Brown (Arthur series), Mordicai Gerstein (The Man Who Walked Between the Towers), Shirley Climo (The Cobweb Christmas), and Jim LaMarche (The Raft).
  • It’s the birth date of P. D. Eastman (1909–1986), (Are You My Mother; Go, Dog. Go! ) and Elsie J. Oxenham (1880–1960) (Goblin Island).
  • In 1792 Farmer’s Almanac, now known as Old Farmer’s Almanac, was first published. Read Farmer George Plants a Nation by Peggy Thomas and illustrated by Layne Johnson.
  • Alfred Nobel patents dynamite in 1867. Read The Man Behind The Peace Prize by Kathy-Jo Wargin and Zak Pullen.

Today we celebrate International Hat Day.  I personally love, wear, buy, and covet hats—all kinds of hats.

Since the book of the day I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen was published last year, it has already gained an enormous number of fans. Klassen is a master of the minimalist form. Starting with sumptuous endpapers that depict the characters in the book, this sly picture book stars a bespeckled bear who immediately sets the tension of the story: “My hat is gone. I want it back.” Already I identify with this story! Then in a series of repetitive questions, making the book fun for very young readers, the bear asks some animals if they have seen his hat. Fox, frog, rabbit, turtle, and snake all answer in the negative. “My poor hat. I miss it so much.”

Finally, in a striking denouement on a page colored red to show the bear’s anger, our protagonist realizes that he has seen his hat. By this point children, who pick up visual clues well, will be way ahead of the adult presenting the story for the first time. At the end, red hat on his head, our now happy hero begins to answer questions about the disappearance of the rabbit.

With a clean, crisp layout and design, appealing artwork the draws readers into the saga, and a clear story arc, I Want My Hat Back demonstrates that an author can take a short and simple text and craft it into an appealing picture book. Admittedly bunnies have been suffering terrible fates in children’s books ever since Peter Rabbit’s father ended up in Mr. McGregor’s pie. But if you, like me, don’t want to imagine a rabbit gone to his final resting place, I am reminded of a young boy responding to Mo Willems City Dog, Country Frog, a story about a frog who dies. After reading the book, a friend asked the boy, “Did the frog die?” He answered, “No, silly, he’s just hibernating.” I personally believe that this rabbit just went “lippety-lippety” off the page. That’s my story—and I’m sticking to it.

If during this holiday season you are hunting for a  new picture book with surefire appeal, pick up a copy of I Want My Hat Back. Or for that matter any of the exciting new titles by Jon Klassen.

Here’s a page from I Want My Hat Back:


Originally posted November 25, 2011. Updated for .

Tags: Animals, Bears, Humor, Rabbits
Instructional materials from TeachingBooks.net for I Want My Hat Back


  1. G. Perry says:

    First, I really love the title. Second, I can’t wait to see more of the artwork when I read this.

    I guess I’ll have to come down out of of my wilderness holiday hideout for the day to find this book. I think that bear might just be worth it. (I could use a better cup of coffee anyway.)

  2. Lisa Nagel says:

    This is one of my new favorite picture books, and the kids have been loving it from K on up to 8th grade. Then there is the discussion I have seen about whether you are on “team bear or team rabbit.” I am firmly in support of the bear despite the disappearance of poor rabbit. I will now adopt your view that he is just now off the page!

  3. Connie Rockman says:

    I was delighted to discover that Jon Klassen is also the cover artist and illustrator of the charming “Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place” series … definitely a young talent to watch! Will we see you at a future conference in a red pointed hat, Anita?

  4. Anita says:

    Connie: A red hat only if there are no greedy bunnies around!

  5. G. Perry says:

    I found this book in the book store yesterday. I love it! The art is perfect. It made me smile just looking at it.

  6. Anita says:

    Gordon: Glad to hear you liked I Want My Hat Back!

  7. J. P. Blasko says:

    I heard about this book earlier this semester in your publishing class, Anita! I thought it sounded like it could be funny. We just got our new copies in at the Children’s Book Shop, and after really, truly reading it myself, I’ve been recommending it to customers left and right, albeit always with the clarifying statement of “it has a dry humor”. Although I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, so to speak, I’ve really been enjoying this kind of humor popping up in picture books these days. Along with the Mo Willems, I think Jon Klassen has totally mastered the mix of almost theatrical comedy within the form of the picture book. I hope there are more to come!

  8. Beth Redford says:

    On the front endpapers I noticed the bear, sans hat, and the rabbit. On the back endpapers the bear has his hat back…and the rabbit is there too. So I’m gonna give the big guy the benefit of the doubt.

  9. Anita says:

    Beth: More confirmation of my theory! Thanks.

  10. Jessica says:

    Many of my students thought the bear sat on the rabbit!! This book is a favorite at my school and we are thrilled it got a Geisel Honor Award.

  11. Anita says:

    Yes, sitting on the rabbit is fine… some actually notice that the rabbit occurs on the end papers at the back.

  12. Chelsea DeTorres says:

    I love this book because of the unwritten what-just-happened feel. I was so sure he ate him! And although the endpapers make me doubt this, I know the bear made sure that his hat would never be taken again.

  13. GM Hakim says:

    Clever story that even fooled me, an English teacher, the first time I read it! Great re-read value in this book, with simple yet effective illustrations that stand at the forefront of the modern, minimalist/deconstructionist movement of illustration. Funny, too.

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