A somber, sepia-toned bear longs for his missing hat and questions a series of forest animals about its whereabouts. While...


From the Hat Trilogy series , Vol. 1

Klassen’s coy effort combines spare illustration, simple, repetitive text and a “payback’s a bear” plot.

A somber, sepia-toned bear longs for his missing hat and questions a series of forest animals about its whereabouts. While everyone denies seeing it, a rabbit (sporting, readers will note, a pointy red chapeau) protests a bit too indignantly. Ten pages on, as the bear describes his hat for a solicitous deer, realization hits: “I HAVE SEEN MY HAT.” The accompanying illustration shows the indignant bear suffused in the page’s angry red. There’s the subsequent dash and confrontation, followed by bear in hat and rabbit—well, nowhere to be seen. Klassen’s ink-and-digital creatures, similarly almond-eyed and mouth-less, appear stiff and minimalist against creamy white space. Foliage is suggested with a few ink strokes (though it’s quite bashed-up after rabbit goes missing). The text type, New Century Schoolbook, intentionally evokes the visually comfy, eminently readable design of 1960s children’s primers. Font colors correlate with the animals’ dialogue as well as the illustrations’ muted color palette, and the four-sentence denials (first rabbit’s, then bear’s) structurally echo each other. Indubitably hip, this will find plenty of admirers. Others might react to a certain moral vapidity. And the littlest ones will demand to know where the heck that rabbit went.

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5598-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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Hee haw.

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The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.


Unlikely friends Bear and Rabbit face fears together.

The anthropomorphic creatures set out on an adventure. Graphic-based illustrations give the book a Pixar movie feel, with a variety of page layouts that keep the story moving. Large blocks of black text are heavy on dialogue patterns as timid Bear and bold Rabbit encounter obstacles. Bear fears every one of them, from the stream to the mountain. He’ll do anything to avoid the objects of terror: taking a bus, a train, and even a helicopter. As Rabbit asks Bear if he’s frightened, Bear repeatedly responds, “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and children will delight in the call-and-response opportunities. Adults may tire of the refrain, but attempts to keep everyone entertained are evident in asides about Bear's inability to brush food from his teeth (he’s too afraid to look at himself in the mirror) and Rabbit's superstrong ears (which do come in handy later). When Rabbit finds herself in danger after Bear defects on the adventure, Bear retraces the trip. Along the way, he notes that the stream wasn't as deep, nor the mountain as high, as he thought when he was scared. While picture-book shelves may not be screaming for another comedically sweet bear story, especially one that treads such familiar territory, many readers will appreciate this tale of overcoming fears. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35237-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

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