I am not an artist. I can draw stick figures, a decent house, and recognizable flowers, but that's about it. I am not an artist, so I rarely critique the art in picture books. I do love illustrations, but I just don't have any idea what it takes to create them. Genius and an eye for detail are what I assume it takes. The illustrations in I Want My Hat Back inspired me to change my ways and start my review of Jon Klassen's book with a critique of his art.
They're funny. The illustrations are funny. I especially like that everyone's eyes are the same. And, no mouths. None of the animals have mouths, yet they are some of the most expressive picture book characters I've seen in ages. The lack of expression makes the characters expressive. Does that make sense?
The story is all dialogue. A bereft bear goes in search of his missing hat, asking animals he meets along the way. One of those animals, a fast talking rabbit, almost fools the bear (even though he's wearing the missing hat right on his head.) Just when the bear is about to give up hope of finding his pointy, red hat, a deer triggers his memory and he takes his hat back from the rabbit. But, not before the bear does something that results in him doing some fast talking of his own.
When I read this story to my kindergartner, she didn't get the twist at the end. She didn't understand that the bear ate the rabbit. She liked the story and loved the illustrations, but the subtlety was too subtle. Today, I read the story to a group of second grade students. They howled with laughter at the story's ending. "He ate the rabbit! The bear ate the rabbit!" They loved it.
Two years makes a big difference when they are the two years between six and eight years old.
Blog you later!