Have you ever lost something and really, really wanted it back? If so, you need to read “I Want My Hat Back.” This picture book — one of my favorite children’s titles of 2011 — surprised me because I wasn’t expecting it to completely win me over. And I’m not the only one who has been charmed by this quirky story: The New York Times Book Review named it one of the best illustrated children’s books of 2011.
Using understated illustrations and brief, repetitive text, the author sets up a simple premise: a bear loses his red hat, and he wants it back. To find his prized possession, the bear takes a walk and asks animals he meets along the way if they have seen his hat. When the fox, the frog, the rabbit, the turtle, and yes, even the armadillo say no, the bear politely says each time, “OK. Thank you anyway.” The bear is very sad about his missing chapeau, but things change when a deer asks him to describe the hat. As he talks about his beautiful, red hat, he realizes that he has seen it — SITTING ON THE RABBIT’S HEAD! The hatless ursine soon has a meeting with the sneaky little bunny, but you’ll have to check out the book to find out what ultimately happens. Whether the ending is wicked, funny or wickedly funny is up to you to decide.