A bear has lost his hat and wants it back.
During his search he encounters a number of animals (a tortoise, fox, snake, mole and deer); he patiently and politely asks them if they have seen his hat. He receives a number of responses, but his search is fruitless. The bear lies down in despair and feels all is lost. When at his lowest point, he suddenly remembers that he has in fact seen his hat.
The climatic point of the story is effectively illustrated by a single image of the bear sitting up looking very alert with a red background. The confrontation occurs with one sentence, ‘YOU. YOU STOLE MY HAT.’ There is a wonderful twist at the end, which is open to interpretation. The minute you finish the book you want to read it again, especially to relive the moment of deception.
Jon Klassen is an animator (Coraline) and illustrator (Cats’ Night Out). This first book, both written and illustrated by Klassen, is a visual delight. Using a technique called giclée (pronounced ‘zgee-klay’), which is like a modern version of lithography, Klassen employs a select palate of natural colours, that cleverly match each animal with their text. Though his watercolour illustrations are simple and at times stark, they are incredibly expressive, capturing a myriad of emotions: curiosity, bewilderment, grief, deception, revenge and satisfaction. The overall look is reminiscent of Leo Lionni.
This fantastic and hilarious cautionary tale – don’t mess with a bear – is sure to become a bestseller which will continue to entertain its readers over time.