Expect the Unexpected: A Review of ‘I Want My Hat Back’

“The things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect.”  – J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Interest Level:  4 – 8 years

Reading Level:  Grade 1

Review and Comments:

A rather large, imposing bear lost his favorite hat, and he is desperate to find it.  He launches a search in the forest where he confronts seven forest animals, asking each one about his hat.  The animals’ responses are slightly different, but all of them boldly deny seeing or knowing anything about the bear’s hat.  Bear always ends the conversations with a thank you for he is a very polite (but still imposing) bear. After awhile he accepts the fact that his search is futile.  He lies down and laments the loss of the red, pointy hat he misses so much.  Wait a minute!  He absolutely has seen his hat recently, but it does not dawn on him until this very minute where he saw it.  The bear runs across two pages past the animals he questioned previously.  He confronts innocent looking Rabbit who is indeed wearing a red, pointy hat.  The reader will remember that Rabbit has the longest questionable response because he is the only animal who declares he did not steal the hat.  Now Bear is accusing Rabbit of stealing and there is nothing left to be said. Fast forward a bit and Bear is wearing his favorite hat again.  In a humorous twist, Squirrel approaches Bear and asks if he has seen a rabbit wearing a hat.  Bear responds with a guilt-free explanation that he definitely has not seen any such rabbit, and he absolutely would not eat a rabbit.

The author uses repetition of high frequency words which makes this a perfect book for emerging readers.  Quotation marks are not used, but the dialogue is highlighted by using different colors for each animal. The color scheme of the illustrations is brown and tan except for the elusive red hat. Children will enjoy the large pictures and simple story, both by Jon Klassen.

This book is the winner of the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award (Honor, 2012) and a New York Times bestseller.

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Possible Issues:

  • Some children may be stunned at first when they realize the bear has eaten the rabbit.

 Further Discussion:

    • Other books in the “hat” series by Jon Klassen: (click on the image for affiliate link)

  •  Retelling the story will increase comprehension.
    • Sequence: This is a perfect story for dramatization.  A child or group of children act out the parts of the forest animals or retell the story by using simple puppets (stick, paper bag, etc.).
    • A flip book will also reinforce sequencing. Staple at least seven pages together to make a book.  Draw one animal on each page making sure the order of the story is correct.  For a younger child, a simple “No!” can be written next to each animal. For an older child, a more complete response could be added.
    • Retell the story to a member of the family.
  • Oral reading/Fluency: Practice reading the animals’ responses by changing the speed, volume, and expression of the voice until it sounds like natural language that is lively and has good expression.  Record your child reading the story.
  • This story could be used to teach irony to older children. [irony: a technique of indicating, as through character or plot development, an intention or attitude opposite to that which is actually or ostensibly stated]

Catholic Resources:

  • CCC 2408 The seventh commandment forbids theft, that is, usurping another’s property against the reasonable will of the owner.
  • CCC 2409 Even if it does not contradict the provisions of civil law, any form of unjustly taking and keeping the property of others is against the seventh commandment: thus, deliberate retention of goods lent or of objects lost; business fraud; paying unjust wages; forcing up prices by taking advantage of the ignorance or hardship of another,

Holy Saint Anthony, gentle and powerful in your help, your love for God and charity for His creatures, made you worthy, when on earth, to possess miraculous powers. Miracles waited on your word, which you were always ready to request for those in trouble or anxiety. Encouraged by this thought, I implore you to obtain for me (request). The answer to my prayer may require a miracle. Even so, you are the Saint of miracles. Gentle and loving Saint Anthony, whose heart is ever full of human sympathy, take my petition to the Infant Savior for whom you have such a great love, and the gratitude of my heart will ever be yours. Amen.

Or say this shorter prayer for a lost item:

“Saint Anthony, Saint Anthony, please come around:

Something is lost and needs to be found!”