Jon Klassen once again uses a minimalist palette, short, declarative sentences and a hat to deliver a wallop of an ethics lesson. Having explored the victim's point of view in his debut picture book, I Want My Hat Back, Klassen now shines a light into the mind of a thief.
A tiny fish sporting a light blue derby hat states, "This is not mine. I just stole it." It's a doozy of an opener and an echo of the starting lines of the bear hero in the first book: "My hat is gone. I want it back." In both books, the eyes tell the story. No one speaks except the tiny fish thief. But the narrator's words often appear at odds with the action in the full-spread illustrations. After confessing having stolen the hat while the victim slept, the tiny fish states, "And he probably won't wake up for a long time," just as the fried-egg size eyes of a giant fish pop open, turn upward to check on the now-absent hat, then shift to cigarette-shaped eyes, pupils forward, emitting bubbles that look like smoke. Strands of sea grass hold fish-shaped leaves, so when they thicken together, they serve as an ideal camouflage for the tiny fish. But will it be enough?
Klassen once again gets the tone pitch perfect. His bare-bones text and enigmatic images leave the proceedings open to interpretation. And the ethics questions could keep kids debating for days, laughing all the way to consensus. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness