By Felicity LuHill
December 12, 2016
We Found a Hat is the third and final book of Jon Klassen’s hat series written for children ages 4-8. The premise is this: two turtles find a hat and it looks good on both of them. The language may be simple but the message is anything but.
The contemporary children’s author, Jon Klassen, is known for his minimalistic style, his deadpan humor, as well as his thought-provoking complexity. Early on the turtles decide to give up the hat, but as the day progresses it becomes clear that one turtle is considering taking the hat for himself without the other knowing. The book requires engagement in both the text and the illustrations to fully appreciate it. Young boys will delight in seeing the turtle’s eyes stare at the hat, giving away what he’s really thinking when he says he thinks of “nothing.” Readers may interject what they would do in the turtles’ situation: take the hat for himself or give it up?
In the climax of the story, the turtle creeps towards the hat while the other sleeps. The sleeping turtle tells him that he is dreaming of a world where they both have hats—and both hats look good on them. The creeping turtle reconsiders what he’s doing, as he says simply, “We both have hats?” He decides to not steal the hat, and instead takes back his place, asleep next to his turtle friend.
The page-size art of the book is as simple as the language, but is as nuanced and beautiful as the story’s take-away. In the end, neither turtle gets the hat, but they give it up for friendship, to dream of a world where they both have hats. The story is straightforward, with less than 15 words per page, but it’s also pensive, tender, and sure to make an impression on a young boy’s mind. The lesson of the book? Don’t believe you’re entitled to something just because you want it; the people in your life are more important than material objects; and, perhaps most importantly, don’t be afraid to dream for better.
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