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Best Illustrated Children's Books of 2012


8 of 12

This Is Not My Hat
Book Cover of This Is Not My Hat
Candlewick Press
Title: This Is Not My Hat
Author Illustrator: Jon Klassen
Recommended for: Ages 4 to 8

Story: Jon Klossen's books I Want My Hat Back and This Is Not My Hat are the perfect antidotes any time you feel you are about to overdose on the excessive amount of goodness and happy endings in some children's books. In this story, a little fish tells the reader, "This hat is not mine. I stole it." He stole it from a very large fish while the big fish was sleeping. While the little fish is assuring the reader that the big fish is probably going to sleep for awhile, the illustrations show that the fish is now awake. While the little fish is assuring us that the fish won't even realize his hat is gone, we see the big fish rolling his eyes upward and know that he can see that his hat is gone.

And so it goes. What the little fish thinks is happening doesn't match what the illustrations show. By the end of the book, the little fish has disappeared into the jungle of underwater plants, assuring us he won't be found. We know differently when we see the big fish swimming away with his little hat back on. Older kids will relish the idea of the big fish eating the small fish, while younger children may not pick up on that at all. In either case, the cause and effect message is pretty clear.

Think of how totally different this story would be if Klossen used bright, clear colors. It's his choice of a black background, muted colors in subtle variations and stippling and other texturing effects that make the message, in words and picture, so consistent. Klossen created the beautiful endpapers, which show the jungle of underwater plants in muted colors, and all the other illustrations digitally and in Chinese ink.
Book Trailer: Watch the very brief animated book trailer for This Is Not My Hat.

Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publication Date: 2012
ISBN: 9780763655990
Cost: Compare prices.

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