What we’re reading: I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

The world can seem a really nice place in children’s books. A little too nice, to my mind.

The colours are a bit too pretty, the animals all talk and the predators become best of friends with their prey. And the endings can be just that bit too perfect.

Life isn’t like that, after all.

If you’re fed up of reading sugar-coated stories to your child, then I Want My Hat Back is the bedtime read for you.

It’s got loss, lies, vigilante justice and a sticky end for a sticky-fingered (or should that be pawed?) bunny.

The story is straightforward. A bear has lost his hat and sets out to find out. As you turn each page, he meets a new creature who he politely questions on the whereabouts of his headwear.

The simplicity of these exchanges is deceptive however. Because along the way, there is a hat – and your child is likely to spot this before our hapless, hatless hero.

What’s clever about this book is how subtle the drama is. The dialogue is deadpan, while tiny changes in the characters’ eyes convey their emotions.

The artwork is also very stylish. I would happily frame a page to put on the wall – and not just that of a nursery.

Even the muted colour palette favoured by author and illustrator Jon Klassen is brilliantly incorporated into the drama.

Almost every page is muted, earthy tones… until the bear sees red as the identity of the hat snatcher dawns – and so do we.

I won’t give the ending away but suffice to say, you should never steal from a bear, no matter how mild mannered he looks.

They say that two wrongs don’t make a right, a lesson you will no doubt try to teach your child.

I think this book might be an exception to the rule.

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen, £6.99 (paperback), Walker

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