is one of the very best picture books in recent years. It is also chocked full of Black Whimsy. I feel that the man responsible for this book, Mr. Jon Klassen, may be the reigning KING of the Black Whimsy Picture Book. You will shortly see why.
SO, there's this Bear. This one:
His hat is gone. He wants it back. So he proceeds to ask a wide menagerie of forrest animals where his hat is.
He asks the fox:
He asks the frog:
When he asks the rabbit, he has a rather curious response:
He asks a turtle, a snake, a mole, and finally, when he is thoroughly depressed, he comes upon a deer:
What does your hat look like?
the deer asks
The bear replies:
It is red and pointy and...
So he runs past the deer, he runs past the mole, he runs past the snake, he runs past the fox and he runs past the turtle,
and he runs up to....
This right here is one of my favorite spreads in all of the picture book world. Look at the DRAMA. You just know "you know what" is going down:
The next page is the bear, sitting on a mess of shrubs, saying
I LOVE MY HAT.
and just in case you are not aware of what just occured, Klassen does not spell it out, but instead harkens back to an earlier page:
Excuse me, have you seen
a rabbit wearing a hat?
No. Why are you asking me.
I haven't seen him.
I haven't seen any rabbits
I would not eat a rabbit.
Don't ask me any more questions.
Ok. Thank you anyway.
Hehehehe. It's a genius of a book. So simple, with an economy of text, and deliciously adorable illustrations that belie the macabrety of the final outcome of the story.
This book won a Geisel Honor for being one of the best books for beginning readers of last year. The text, would, indeed, be quite easy for an emerging reader, and it would be a great lessen in the art of inference as well. Of course, the ending is rather brutal, but, what can you do? That's Black Whimsy.