Children's Author and Illustrator Jon Klassen
When my kids were really little we used to try to hide dead animals when we found them outside. Unfortunately, we have an outdoor “barn” cat who is quite a killer and it was a little challenging to hide all of her kills. She was particularly fond of killing chipmunks when she was younger and the chipmunks were prolific in our courtyard. We would often find several dead ones in a given day. Well, several parts of dead ones in a given day. My daughter quickly became accustomed to seeing dead chipmunks and they never seemed to bother her. When she was about three we walked into her pre-school class one day and she announced “Cleo died three chipmunks today.” After a bit of embarrassment on my part I explained that Cleo was our barn cat and cleared up that there wasn’t some rampant human going around killing chipmunks at our house.
My point is that kids are not flustered by animals eating animals. They certainly aren’t flustered by the completely non-graphic depiction in I Want My Hat Back. I Want My Hat Back is FUNNY. The bear goes through so much emotion in such a funny way. It is classic humor. OK. Maybe in a way it is Three Stooges humor. But it is funny.
I am truly amazed that This Is Not My Hat is able to pull off the same concept so cleverly. It is almost a reverse order. Again, the concept of big eats little is easy for kids to accept, although I found it interesting that some of the kids in our audience thought that the little fish survived. I think that’s OK. Hey, whatever a reader concludes is OK. Same with the rabbit as far as I’m concerned. If you think he ran away into the forest in fear, go for it. The bear and the big fish got their hats back, that’s what’s important. Stealing is bad.