Inside: You’ll find a book review and LOTS of different ideas for extending the book. Enjoy!
I have an old but “new to me” book to share with you today: This is Not My Hat! I was looking at it in the library yesterday and by the time I got to the last page I knew this would be a winner with younger children.
Title: This is Not My Hat
Author: Jon Klassen
Publishing: Candlewick Press, 2012
Age Range: 3-8
Themes: Suspense, Humour
Awards: The Caldecott Medal
Opening Lines: This hat is not mine. I just stole it.
Synopsis: The little fish has stolen the big fish’s hat and he’s absolutely convinced that the big fish won’t even notice! In the suspense that follows we soon find out if little fish is right.
Why I Like This Book: I just love how Klassen builds up a suspenseful story with just a few words and some very expressive eyes. Little fish is narrating the story, explaining why he took the hat, and why he believes he won’t be caught. But everything he says turns out to be the exact opposite (cue the picture above).
The expressions in the eyes are wonderful. You can tell exactly how the big fish is feeling depending upon where the pupil is placed or if the eye becomes a narrow slit. I found myself laughing several times!
At the end of the story the big fish has his hat back, we don’t see the little fish, and the narration has stopped. It seems as though the little fish has been eaten, and yet we don’t know for sure. So I love how the ending is a little ambiguous.
Oh, I almost forgot the crab. What a traitor — haha! Despite leading little fish to believe that he won’t give away little fish’s whereabouts, we can clearly see that he does 🙂
Conversation Starter: I feel like I always say this in my book reviews, but the possibilities for conversation with this book are vast! The book can be used to teach point of view, prediction, inference, and the ethics of stealing and lying. Here are some ideas:
- Predictions: After reading the first page, stop and ask the kids for some predictions. “Whose hat was stolen?” “Why did he steal it?” “Will he get away?” “Will he give it back?”
- Continue reading the book, but be sure to slow it down a little and really build up the suspense.
- I’m sure the children will be gasping at the ending! Ask them “What happened to the little fish?” “Do we know for sure he was eaten?” “What are some other possible outcomes?”
- Do a second reading and this time really focus on the narration and what’s really happening in the story. Do the children notice that it’s always the opposite thing that happens?
- “How is it we can always tell what the big fish is thinking even though he’s not saying anything?”
- And here are a couple of biggies that will definitely spark some spirited discussion: “Was it okay for little fish to steal the hat?” “If little fish was eaten, did he deserve to be?” “Why did crab give away little fish’s location?” “Was that the right thing to do?”
- Write about the ending. We don’t really know for sure what goes on in those weeds. There are many possible outcomes, and not all of them involve a little fish dinner.
- Do a Shared or Teacher Guided Writing. Look at big fish again and for each page write what you believe he’s thinking.
- Older children, say Grade 4 and up, could use the book as a model for writing their own opposite story.
- Talk about camouflage and have the children paint their own seaweed forests. Then paint a little fish and glue him onto the seaweed painting. See how well you can camouflage your fish.
- Draw some simple fish shapes but change their eyes in each drawing to express a different feeling. Label the feelings.
- Here’s a free activity kit from Candlewick Press (this also includes activities from I Want My Hat Back).
- If you’d like to explore the issues of stealing, lying and trust then Teaching Children Philosophy has a great list of questions to get you started.
Be sure to check out this video. It really highlights the suspense!
You can find more wonderful book reviews at Perfect Picture Book Friday.