Something I previously thought impossible was the successful sequel to a popular and clever children’s book. If you give a mouse a cookie, Brother, you are in for a chain of improbable probable events that are gonna wear you out and ultimately end up costing you a second cookie. You may want to do it anyway, because the process is so charming, but unfortunately your neighborhood has more than just mice in it. There are also wandering pigs, moose, dogs and a host of other furry creatures just waiting to come and mooch your snacks. You can read all about them in the long list of adorable but, excuse my saying so, very played, list of “If You Give a Whatever a Whatever” books. I can’t blame the author for cashing in on the success and making the public so happy.
People love those books, so have at ’em! Just don’t let the Pigeon drive the bus, okay? Cuz he’s gonna be back too, with a whole lot of other wishes to deny, and he’ll be bringing Pinkalicious and the red-pajama-missing-momma-votes-Obama-dance-a-rama-llama llama and a crowd of other friends who are still cute, but I have to admit are a little overexposed.
Enter Jon Klassen.
I’d been planning on buying his hilarious minimalistic story, “I Want My Hat Back” for a while now, and when I went to find it on the shelf at the bookstore today, I was met by a sight that made my heart sink a tiny bit. It was this:
his follow up book, “This is Not My Hat.” I didn’t get my hopes up too high when I saw it, but I liked the cover illustration and pulled it off the shelf anyway. It took me about thirty seconds to read the whole thing (just like his first book), and it was thirty seconds well spent. Not only can I say with relief that it bears none of the sell-out syndrome often earmarking such follow up books, but I even found it to be better than the first. The storyline is humorous, slightly moralistic without being preachy, and the pictures are flawless. Best of all, it’s got the feel of the first book without just being a second round of the same thing.
Without any unnecessary details, he crafts the perfect visual accompaniment to what would seem like a very basic plot, creating the dimension of a delicious omniscient observer’s perspective. It’s simple enough for a child to follow, but fun enough for a grown up to enjoy.
I want to share my favorite images from his books, but they would kind of be spoilers if I did. I’ll just say that the squinting made me laugh. Also, I like the crab.