Monday, January 6, 2014

This Is Not My Hat

In this post, I called Jon Klassen the reigning KING of Black Whimsy.  Well, my friends, the king has just been crowned.

One of Klassen's three (!) books published in 2012 was given the Caldecott Award yesterday.

This is the book:

This is the award:

and this is what the book and the award look like together:

Ain't it purty?  It was also the 75th anniversary of the Caldecott Award (it's been given out by the American Library Association since 1938 (!)) Which makes everything even cooler.  In case you are not completely obsessed with the ALA Youth Media Awards, the Caldecott is given to the best illustrated children's book in a given year.

Before you read any more of this post, go back and read the post about the first book Klassen wrote and illustrated: here.  This Is Not My Hat is good on its own, but it's so much better if you've read I Want My Hat Back.  You see, whereas I Want My Hat Back is all from the perspective of the creature that had his hat stolen from him, This Is Not My Hat is from the perspective of the thief.

These two stories are thematic twins.

My (mostly) serious request to Mr. Klassen is that he completes this trilogy by writing and illustrating a book from the perspective of a stolen hat.

SO back to This Is Not My Hat.  It starts out with a fish (the one on the cover).  He is a small fish and he is wearing a very attractive blue bowler hat.  He says:

This hat is not mine.
I just stole it.

The little fish stole the hat from a big fish while the big fish was sleeping.  This big fish:

The entire rest of the TEXT of the book is the little fish saying all the reasons he will not get caught, while the ILLUSTRATIONS indicate that he surely WILL get caught.

For example:

There is someone who saw me already.
But he said he wouldn't tell anyone which way I went.

So I am not worried about that.

It is clever beyond belief although startlingly simple.  The illustrations perfectly match the mood and theme of the text.  Just as in I Want My Hat Back, the ending is indicated strongly but not explicitly spelled out. 

Here is the final illustrations of the book (no text is included. The image speaks for itself)

Villains, even sympathetic protagonistic ones, never get away with thievery in Klassen's work.

The end papers are gorgeous too:

A three sentence synopsis that is a perfect example of economy of language (A phrase I believe I used in my sort-of review of I Want My Hat Back as well.  It is a delightful indication of the story and the manner in which it will be told)

That, my friends, is our newest addition into the cannon of the Caldecott Award-Winners.  And a very worthy addition indeed.

Visit Mr. Klassen's blog here.

and you can order a print of each illustration in this book here.

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