I Want My Hat Back is a children's picture book that I wouldn't normally pick up to read. It's not full of attractive, brightly coloured illustrations. In fact, there's nothing on the cover that screams out ... "pick me!"
However, the book was listed on the New York Times Best Picture Books List. I admit I was curious to see why this book made the list and therefore picked it up. I'm really glad I did!
First impressions, in this case, really don't do the book justice. Once I started reading this story to the boys, we were all captivated. Why? Hmmm ... good question.
I Want My Hat Back is based on a bear who has lost his hat. He moves from creature to creature asking, "Have you seen my hat?" I love the politeness of the bear as he replies "OK. Thank you anyway."
The illustrations could actually be classified as 'simple'. The colours are basically monochromatic - focusing mainly on browns. However, it's the simplicity of the pictures that actually adds to the story line.
It's often been said that it's much harder to write succinctly with few words than it is to write a novel. This story uses few words but conveys a story which is rich with humour.
The sentence structures are basic, which is perfect for beginner readers. However, this does not detract from the story line so that adults enjoy reading this story as much as the children hearing it.
I love the repetitive text that is found throughout the story. It gives the story a rhythm. It also allows children to join in reading the text which adds to the dynamics of shared reading.
One word is noticeable by its absence ... the word 'said'. Despite this, you know exactly who is talking. This is because the text has been very cleverly arranged using colour. The bear's speech is written in black and while the other animals are written in colour.
This makes the story perfect for dramatising. In fact, it's hard to read this story without adding different voices for the various characters.
A splash of red in the book really adds to the tension in the story.
I loved the ending. It's not exactly clear as to what happened to the rabbit who stole the bear's hat ... although you can have a guess. One of my sons reckons the bear was eaten while the other thinks the bear sat on the rabbit. Does it really matter? No. I love the way that it's left up to the reader's interpretation.
This book opens up the opportunity for discussion about how people behave when they're lying. Perhaps it is these reactions that allow adults to enjoy the book so much.
We've read this book several times, thoroughly enjoying each reading. It's one that keeps coming out of the library box when it comes to story time!
"I Want My Hat Back" is the perfect book to base language and art extension activities on ... something that's planned for tomorrow. When we've finished, and have photos, I'll put up a post to share.
If you go to this Amazon Link, you'll see a short video clip based on the story.
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