Friday, 2 January 2015

Jon Klassen's 'I Want My Hat Back'

Klassen’s book is very straight forward as it revolves around a bear looking for his hat.
The book itself has been awarded the Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book and the Best Illustrated Children’s Book Award. The storyline to this picture book, and its illustrations, are very simplistic and easy to understand and interpret. This will make the way it is understood by the reader much easier, and can allow the readers to be of a rather young age. However, there may be a concept that adults reading this book may have to explain to younger children in regards to the interaction between the bear and the rabbit.
Anyway, back to the book. Like I said, the text itself is rather simplistic. It is also rather flat in terms of language and rhythm. There is a fair bit of repetition, which is helpful for young readers, but when I was reading it, it made me feel slightly bored by the character of the bear: like he himself was deadpan. What is good is that for each animal the bear interacts, the colour changes, to not only liven the page but mark a change in character and tone of voice.
I also found the images as flat as the text. Now, I do not believe a picture book has to be full of vibrant colour and this book uses white space well; though there is one page where this is challenged. However, the images are clear and will be easily recognised by younger readers who will be able to use the images to relate to the voices and pick out the creatures (as they are mostly not referred to within the text). In this way, the images do relate to the text, though the images are mostly very static and don’t show much movement and life.
I do think this simple, easy approach is good for younger readers, though I felt my own interest wane slightly. Of course, I feel like that’s okay if I am considering a different kind of readership at the moment. This is Klassen’s debut as a writer/illustrator, though he has won awards for other book illustrations created (the Governor General’s Award for Illustration for ‘Cats’ night out’ by Caroline Stutson). I do believe that younger readers could enjoy the simple nature of this book, though I don’t think it would offer a challenge to most readers.

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