Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* In this concluding volume of a thematic trilogy, Klassen employs all his trademark dry wit and deadpan humor to tell the story of a hat-related caper. Unlike its predecessors (I Want My Hat Back, 2011, and This Is Not My Hat, 2012), the hat in question has already been found. Two big-eyed turtles stumble across a white cowboy hat in the middle of the desert and take turns trying it on. It suits them both, they decide: "But it would not be right if one of us had a hat and the other did not. There is only one thing to do. We must leave the hat here and forget that we found it." This is easier said than done: as they watch the sunset and go to sleep, one turtle in particular just can't keep his mind off the hat. Most of the story is told through that turtle's expressive eyes, as it glances furtively between its companion and the hat. The three-part narrative has a distinctly western feel, complete with a desert setting drawn in dusty pink and brown tones—and then, of course, there's the sense of impending betrayal. The conclusion might surprise even those familiar with Klassen's twist endings, and the growing tensions, simple narrative, and intriguing details will endear this to many. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: An extensive author tour and national publicity campaign are just the tip of the marketing-plan iceberg for this latest from Caldecott-winning Klassen. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

BookPage Reviews

Turtle buds find new duds

Jon Klassen fans will rejoice at this final book in the Hat trilogy about two turtles and—you guessed it—a hat. In three parts, the book chronicles the turtles as they find the hat, watch the sunset (and think about the hat) and go to sleep (and dream of the hat).

In “Part One: Finding the Hat,” it’s clear that eventually a difficult choice must be made. “We found a hat,” the turtles say together, establishing their united front—but the tall white hat sits on the ground between them, foreshadowing a potential future rift. They agree the hat looks good on both of them, so the only fair decision is to leave the hat behind and forget it.

The unifying “we” vanishes in “Part Two: Watching the Sunset” as the turtles address each other. “What are you thinking about?” they ask each other. One turtle sneaks a glance at the hat.

In the turtle dream world of “Part Three: Going to Sleep,” the growing tension reaches its peak. But these aren’t the competitive strangers of Klassen’s first two Hat books. These turtles are buddies, and they have a chance for a different outcome.

With We Found a Hat, Klassen takes readers to the West, with brown, gray, orange and inky green desert tones tracking the time of day. As in I Want My Hat Back and the Caldecott-winning This Is Not My Hat, the wording is bold and limited on each page, making it easy to follow when read aloud. Klassen makes great use of the turtles’ eye expressions, conveying the complicated emotions of friendship as well as subtle humor. 

This is a heartwarming, wonderful conclusion.


This article was originally published in the October 2016 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

Copyright 2016 BookPage Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews

Amidst a desert landscape, two turtles find a hat together, but "there is only one," so they leave it. Visually, the book is unmistakably Klassen's: monochromatic palette, dialogue/monologue text, and telltale eyes that telegraph what's really happening. The book's tenderness and uplifting ending is just as surprising as the black humor in I Want My Hat Back and This Is Not My Hat. Copyright 2016 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews

This third picture book by Klassen about a hat (I Want My Hat Back, rev. 11/11; This Is Not My Hat, rev. 9/12), itself written in three parts, is a bit longer than its predecessors, but the storyline remains as simple -- and in its focus and themes, familiar -- as ever. Amidst a desert landscape, two turtles find a hat together. It looks good on both of them, but "there is only one hat." Rather than squabble over ownership, they decide to leave it where they find it and move on. Yet one turtle cannot forget the hat and continues to wrestle with and eventually overcome the baser instincts of greed and deceit. Visually, the book is unmistakably the work of Klassen: a monochromatic palette that ranges, as the day progresses from early morning to darkest, starriest night, from gray to black with the dusky glow of the setting sun as the lone contrasting accent color; a text consisting entirely of dialogue/monologue that either runs along the top of a double-page spread or stands alone on an unillustrated page; and finally, of course, the telltale eyes that telegraph so much about what is really happening in the story. The tenderness in this book (with its uplifting ending) is just as surprising as the black humor in the earlier ones. While the book is richer in the context of the two previous volumes, Klassen leaves enough space for uninitiated readers to make their own meaning out of this story about a hat -- but, here, also about an enduring and precious friendship. jonathan hunt

Kirkus Reviews

Rounding out what is now being called the Hat Trilogy, Klassen presents the story of two tortoises that find a hat.I Want My Hat Back (2011) concerns the victim of a hat theft. The Caldecott-winning This Is Not My Hat (2012) focuses on the perpetrator of a similar crime. In each book, the picture-text dynamic implies that the hat's rightful owner does violence to the thief at the end. This tale is both more ambiguous and less action-oriented. Two tortoises find one hat in the desert. Each tries it on; though it comically covers each tortoise's entire head, "it looks good on both of us," they conclude. Deciding that one hat is not enough for two tortoises, they leave it in order to watch the sunset from a nearby rock, where they later bed down. Klassen employs his customary flat, minimalist style in a desert palette, his characters' heavy-lidded eyes doing the subtextual heavy lifting: they may say they are watching the sunset, but each is clearly thinking about the hat. The final act, in which one tortoise descends the rock toward the hat and the other, though supposedly sleeping, narrates a star-filled dream in which they both wear hats, challenges readers to construct their own endings. There are no belly laughs here, but patient children and Klassen's fans will be fully engaged. Beguiling. (Picture book. 4-8) Copyright Kirkus 2016 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Klassen's I Want My Hat Back and This Is Not My Hat stand alone, but they also form a setup for this tale, in which two turtles stumble upon a big white hat in the desert ("We found a hat. We found it together") and try it on in turn ("It looks good on both of us"). Klassen's artwork, spare and sly, tells a different story. The hat does not look good. It looks silly, as if the turtle's head were stuck in a plastic bucket. "We must leave the hat here and forget that we found it," says the first turtle, with fairness in mind. The other turtle's gaze shifts left. It wants that hat. Readers of the earlier stories will recognize that look; it bodes ill. Klassen divides the book into three distinct acts; in the second, as the turtles watch the sunset, the second turtle's eyes again stray toward the hat. Uh-oh. In the third section, the first turtle settles down to sleep, and the shifty-eyed turtle begins inching toward the hat, talking all the while to the first turtle ("Are you all the way asleep?"). Readers who think they know what's coming will be wrong: the conclusion doesn't involve sharing, peacemaking, or violence. Instead, Klassen considers the instant at which a decision to act can break either way, depending on who's tempted and whether anyone else is watching. In contrast to the first two books, which relied on a certain conspiratorial menace, this one ends with a moment of grace and a sky full of stars. All three stories are about justice. It's just that justice doesn't always mean the same thing. Ages 4-8. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Oct.)

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School Library Journal Reviews

PreS-Gr 3—The conclusion to the "Hat" trilogy offers the sly humor fans have come to expect along with a surprisingly tender ending. When a pair of googly-eyed tortoises find a 10-gallon hat—which they both agree would look good on either of them—they decide to leave it be rather than risk inequity between them. But as should be expected of any Klassen animal in close proximity to headgear, it becomes obvious that one of the tortoises still very much covets the hat. As in his previous works, Klassen takes a minimalist approach, with an economy of words and simple, textured shapes. The repetition of certain phrases and the organization of the title into three parts make this entry flow like an easy reader. Full-page compositions showcase the bare desert landscape, with soft gradients of muted orange as the sole bit of color in the gray and black palette. Fans of the previous "Hat" books who follow the subtle clues and motivations will likely suspect an ironic ending. In a charming turn, the conflict is resolved through empathy and the bonds of friendship—Klassen's animals have clearly evolved in their thinking since the bear in I Want My Hat Back and the fish in This Is Not My Hat. The lightest touch of the surreal adds to the dreamy melancholy of this tale. VERDICT A different but wholly delightful and thought-provoking capper to Klassen's ingenious series.—Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal

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School Library Journal Reviews

PreS-Gr 3—In this capper to Klassen's delightfully sly "Hat" trilogy," two wide-eyed tortoises covet a 10-gallon hat. The economy of words, simple shapes, and rich textures highlight the stark beauty of the desert landscape and allow readers to appreciate the understated drama and humor. A surprisingly tender ending—with just the barest hint of surrealism—emphasizes the power of sacrifice and the endurance of friendship.. Copyright 2016 School Library Journal.