I Want My Hat Back (2011) is a picture book for older children and adults.
Poor bear has lost his hat.
The illustrations highlight his despondancy as he asks all the other animals "have you seen my hat?"
As you read the book you can almost feel your own shoulders droop in despair as you shuffle along hopelessly with bear.
The ah-ha moment for bear and reader alike is invigorating and the end - shocking!
The black humour and dry wit goes over the head of most younger readers. In fact, the ending can scare them outright!!
But older children (4+) and adults love the shock they experience at the end. They turn back to the start to read it again & again, not quite sure that what happened actually happened.
Bear's story turns out to be one of possession and theft, truth and lies and an eye for an eye.
This Is Not My Hat (2012) follows the same themes but from the opposite point of view.
Naughty fish has stolen the bigger fishes hat.
He knows he has done the wrong thing and spends the entire book justifying his actions.
He believes he has got away with his crime...right up until he comes to the same sticky end as the rabbit in I Want My Hat Back!
The endings are shocking & even controversial but they appeal to most children's ideas of black and white justice - bad things happen to people (and animals) who do bad things.
I could spend another entire blog post raving about Klassen's illustrations!
His books are true picture books where half the story is revealed through the drawings. They are joyful in their wickedness.
I dare you not to chuckle out loud!