We were lucky enough to request and receive board book copies of these free from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. However, we already own bought copies of the paperback versions, so we knew in advance we loved them! Opinions and views are all my own.
Peapod’s Picks is a weekly round up of some of the books that Peapod* has read (often, but not always, for his bedtime stories) each week plus a review of at least one of them.
*His social media alter ego, not his real name!
Those of you who’ve been here once or twice before will know what huge fans of Jon Klassen we are and how much we love both these books and his collaborations with Mac Barnett.
We have had these for a while but despite mentioning them often, I’ve never properly reviewed them. So receiving board book versions of the first two seems like a good opportunity!
I Want My Hat Back
The original and (
some I would say) the best!
Wonderfully witty with a delightfully dark ending, this book is a perfect example of a funny yet sophisticated picture book that has appeal across all ages (although try telling that to parents that just want a long picture book for their mini reading prodigies 🙄)
Bear is looking for his hat. Despite the matter of fact style of speech, it’s clear he’s very upset about it going missing. He very politely asks around, stopping to help a poor tortoise in need – oh the complexities of this character! – along the way.
There are so many clever techniques employed here, ftom the different coloured text to denote the different character’s speech to the way Klassen packs SO much expression into his character’s faces (those of you familiar with the shape trilogy will already know it’s all in the eyes!)
Then there’s the use of dramatic irony, so when Bear realises where he has seen his hat it’s a brilliantly celebratory moment. This is made even better as it is followed swiftly by his reaction and the way the book’s use of repetition delivers the punchline is the perfect ending!
And of course having a bash-able, chewable, non-tearable version is even better now that Peapod is do enthusiastic in his book love!
A very much littler Peapod enjoying it in a very much calmer way than he does now!
This is Not My Hat
Written in a similarly minimal and deadpan style to I Want My Hat Back, we are once again treated to the bigger picture as our narrator – the small hat thief – talks us through his cunning escape with the hat that “is not mine. I just stole it.”
This is a great book for those turn-the-page-punchlines – where we can often see what’s going to happen, but it’s still funny when it does.
As I’m the first book, so much of this book’s humour is in the eyes – so expressive and conveying such a lot! And despite the characters saying or doing very little, you will find yourself really believing in them.
I groaned fondly at our fishy narrator. There is something really innocent about them (think a young child’s attempts at denying wrong doing or playing hide and seek), despite their light fin(ger)s and this self-belief really made me smile.
As for our poor victim, it’s ALL in the illustrations as he doesn’t say a word, but we know his thoughts and feelings too.
And, as in I Want…, the book points a finger towards questions of right and wrong without making a judgement or telling you what to do/think.
With a slightly more ambiguous ending, you can even convince yourself that no fish were eaten at the end of this story. You’d be wrong of course, but it’s possible to read it that way!
Funny, clever and just as brilliant as book one!
We Found a Hat
While this third installment retains the stripped back style and dry humour of the first two, it is more touching and less murdersome than the previous books!
Here, two tortoises have found a hat. It looks good on them both, so what should they do?
I’ve said it already but it’s all in the eyes! The excitement at the find, the torment, the indecision, the love for hat and friend, the sorrow…although there are (a few) words, this story is as easily told through the pictures (and eyes) alone.
And, as with This is Not My Hat, there are complex ideas subtly running through this, to be unpicked (or not) as much or as little as you want to. Fairness, sharing (or not), friendship, sacrifice and the feelings of others.
While this wasn’t as dark as the other two books, it was just as clever, just as dry and just as beautifully illustrated and I really loved it just as much in the end. It was such a warm and hopeful end to the trilogy.
I’m hoping this will also be out in board book soon. And I’m also very much looking forward to this hardback ‘hat box’ set: