The New York Times chose “I Want My Hat Back” as the Best Illustrated Children’s Book of the Year. It was a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book: the best book for beginning readers. Our 10-year-old, who’s no beginner, loved it. So did the adults who plucked it from our coffee table.
Not bad for a 40-page book with 120 words.
Oh, there were people who didn’t like it. They’re the usual suspects: parents and librarians who spot a quirky point-of-view and want to protect kids from it. Fortunately, where the usual suspects saw a plot that ends in vigilante justice, kids just saw… a good joke.
I’m delighted to report there’s an equally good joke in the sequel, “This Is Not My Hat.” [To buy the book from Amazon, click here.]
This time we’re underwater.
“This hat is not mine,” a little fish tells us on the first page. “I stole it.” And why not? It was too small for its owner, a big fish. And the big fish was sleeping, and likely to remain asleep for a long time. “And if he does wake up, he probably won’t notice it’s gone.” And if he does, “he won’t know who took it.” Even if he guesses right, he won’t know where to look. Still, it might be better to hide “where the plants grow big and tall.”
Ah, the best laid plans. Someone sees the little fish. “But he said he wouldn’t tell where I went.”
Ah, second thoughts. “I know it’s wrong to steal a hat. I know it does not belong to me. But I am going to keep it. It was too small for him anyway.”
Three wordless pages follow. The illustrations tell the story. I’ll leave you to guess the ending.
Let the usual suspects tut-tut. The laughter you hear? That’s the most beautiful sound in the world: kids appreciating a joke. And then smart grownups joining in.