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1-Page Summary of This Is Not My Hat
This Is Not My Hat is a popular picture book for children published in 2012 by Canadian Jon Klassen. The book is similar to his earlier work I Want My Hat Back, but it has an entirely different perspective. Both books are about animals stealing hats and the reaction of their victims, but This Is Not My Hat focuses on the animals who do the stealing. Literary journals like Kirkus Reviews and Publishers Weekly gave high praise to This Is Not My Hat after its publication, making this one of few times that both awards were given to a single piece of literature in the same year.
Unlike its predecessor, This Is Not My Hat is told from the perspective of the hat thief rather than the hat victim. In this installment, the thief is a small fish and the victim is a much bigger fish. The smaller fish has no shame about stealing the hat, announcing on page one that “this hat is not mine” and claiming to have stolen it without waking up or noticing him (the big fish). Throughout this book, he continually brags about how impressive he was for having stolen it (without getting caught) while thinking that his actions went unnoticed by anyone else.
But the small fish doesn’t realize that the big fish is about to wake up. This introduces a recurring theme of dramatic irony, in which readers can see things that characters don’t. For example, when the small fish says “And even if he does wake up, he probably won’t notice that it’s gone,” we see an illustration of him looking at where his hat should be but not seeing it there. Readers know this isn’t true because they know what will happen next: The big fish wakes up and notices immediately that his hat is missing.
The little fish says, “Even if the big fish notices that his hat is missing, he probably won’t know it was me who took it.” The author illustrates this by having a similar two-page spread as before except now the big fish has an expression on his face. This suggests that he knows exactly who took his hat. When the small fish says, “And even if he does guess it was me,” Klassen illustrates this with a picture of him swimming off to the right side of the page.
At this point, the story shifts to the small fish’s perspective. He explains that he plans to hide where plants grow big and tall and are close together. It is very hard for people to see in there, so no one will be able to find him.
On his way to a secret spot with tall, close plants, the little fish sees an orange crab watching him swim by. The little fish is confident that the crab won’t reveal his whereabouts because he said he wouldn’t tell anyone which way the little fish went. However, as before, the little fish is completely wrong. In one frame when he says “So I am not worried about that”, Klassen displays the crab pointing in his direction to show where he’s hiding
The little fish says he knows stealing is wrong, but that it’s okay to keep the hat because it was too small for the big fish. In the end, though, he gets eaten by a bigger fish.
In any case, This Is Not My Hat is a good children’s book because it allows young readers to empathize with a thief. It is also interesting that the author makes the final moral statement about crime being bad.