Klassen combines spare text and art to deliver no small measure of laughs in another darkly comic haberdashery whodunit.
While not a sequel to I Want My Hat Back (2011), the story does include a hat, a thief (a little fish) and a wronged party (a big fish). This time, first-person narration follows the thief, whose ego far outstrips his size as he underestimates the big fish’s tracking abilities. Meanwhile, much of the art follows the big fish on his hunt, creating a pleasing counterpoint with the text. For example, a page reading “…he probably won’t notice that it’s gone” shows not the thieving piscine narrator but the big fish looking up toward the top of his own bare head; he clearly has noticed that his hat is gone, and the chase is on! Sublime book design exploits the landscape format, with dogged movement from left to right across the double-page spreads. This culminates in a page reading “I knew I was going to make it,” as the little fish disappears on the recto into plants evocative of Leo Lionni’s setting in Swimmy (1963), while a narrow-eyed big fish enters the verso. The little fish is clearly doomed—a fact coyly confirmed by wordless page turns revealing the big fish swimming away, now from right to left, hat firmly on head.
Hats off! (Picture book. 4-8)