I Want My Hat Back: Review and 4 Free Story Extensions

Inside: This is an updated post. It’s a review of I Want My Hat Back and includes suggestions for story extensions, as well as an instant download freebie.


This is the first story in Jon Klassen’s Hat trilogy. It’s unusual and entertaining and I absolutely love it!

I Want My Hat Back is fun and fabulous book by Jon Klassen. Here are two free book responses.

 I Want My Hat Back
Jon Klassen
Candlewick Press (September 2011)
Picture Book/Fiction
Ages 4- 9


My hat is gone. I want it back. 

Synopsis from Amazon:

The bear’s hat is gone, and he wants it back. Patiently and politely, he asks the animals he comes across, one by one, whether they have seen it. Each animal says no, some more elaborately than others. But just as the bear begins to despond, a deer comes by and asks a simple question that sparks the bear’s memory and renews his search with a vengeance. Told completely in dialogue, this delicious take on the classic repetitive tale plays out in sly illustrations laced with visual humour — and winks at the reader with a wry irreverence that will have kids of all ages thrilled to be in on the joke.

Why I Like This Book:

Klassen has written a really interesting book. Typically, we don’t see too many children’s picture books that deal with  lying, stealing and killing. The majority of kids’ books are bright and colourful, with a morally upright protagonist.

Not here!

The bear in this story is morose and determined. He can’t find his pointy red hat and he’s determined to get it back. When he finally remembers where he last saw his hat, we’re treated to a wicked little twist.  It’s suggested, though not explicitly stated, that the bear ate the rabbit, who presumably stole bear’s hat and then lied about it.

I love that! It makes for great classroom conversations with a philosophical bent (see some conversation starters below).

If you like dark humour, beautifully textured illustrations, succinct dialogue, and open-ended stories, then you’re going to love I Want My Hat Back.

I should mention, too, that this book has won several awards:

  • New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books (2011)
  • Selezionato Mostra Internazionale d’illustrazione per l’infanzia di Sarmede (2011)
  • Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor (2012)
  • Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis for Bilderbuch (2013)

Story Extensions:


As mentioned above, this book is perfect for a deep discussion. The questions below will get you started. And don’t forget to ask lots of “why” questions.  I think it’s important to ask kids to justify their answers as this promotes deeper thinking.

What do you think happened to the rabbit and why?

After someone suggests that the bear ate the rabbit, ask:

Is that okay to do? Why or why not?

Does that seem a little extreme?

Could the bear have handled it a different way? Why or why not?

Is it okay for animals to eat each other? Why?

How and why might animals act differently than people?

If you’d like to go really deep with this type of discussion be sure to check out this post at The Prindle Institute for Ethics.


Read the book aloud and then stop about halfway through. Ask the students to predict how they think the story will end. They draw their response in the first bubble.

When the story is finished talk about the ending and have the students draw the appropriate picture in the second bubble.

You can download the sheets below (full directions included).

I Want My Hat Back is fun and fabulous book by Jon Klassen. Here are two free book responses.

Here’s a different prediction sheet. This one’s great to use with older readers. They can explain in writing and drawing what they think will happen at the end of the story.

I Want My Hat Back is fun and fabulous book by Jon Klassen. Here are two free book responses.

DOWNLOAD: I Want My Hat Back book responses


Candlewick has a free pdf with several different story responses for this story and the other two books in the Hat Trilogy.

BTW, you can find those here. Just click the pictures to see the books on Amazon (affiliate link).

Slap Happy Larry has a great post worth reading. He also includes the idea of writing different titles for the book. Be sure to have a look — his example made me laugh out loud!

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to let me know what you think of Klassen’s wonderful book!


18 thoughts on “I Want My Hat Back: Review and 4 Free Story Extensions”

  1. We just read this book and did some before/during/after questioning. It was adorable. Then one of my students decided that bear was going to a party, with the hat so wrote a short story, called \”I want my present back\” and it copied the style of the original:-)LaurieChickadee Jubilee

  2. I saw this book at Target a few weeks ago and fell in love with it. I love this bear! I can't wait to use it next year. Thanks for sharing. I wish I had read your post back when you wrote it. I am so far behind!~Andi


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