My rating: 5 of 5 stars
There are moments when I am dazzled by the wonder of picture books. It happened with Martha and the Bunny Brothers by Clara Vulliamy and it has happened here again. Klassen’s masterful story is perfection. And I love it so.
It is simple, precise, elegant. A bear has lost his hat. He would like it back. He goes out on a quest to retrieve his hat.
Drawn with an intense stillness and coloured in a subtle, woodland palette, the book is a delight. The bear himself is reminiscent of those paintings where the eyes follow you around the room; his emphatic bulk offset by eyes which question everything around him, lost in the suspicion of whole stole his hat. So much of this book rests in his eyes, it’s almost a masterclass in storytelling. Think about it. Two black dots in white space and yet we inscribe so much meaning to them. When you read this, look at the eyes, look at the way they’re positioned in the page, look at the way the bear never blinks, look at how the eyes are the implacable bear embodied in the tiniest of spaces.
What’s vital to note about this book as well is that it is so very clever. The bear is always looking, always directing the reader to investigate the page. It’s almost pantomime in nature and the urge to cry something along the lines of “It’s behind you!” is never far away.
And when a book spills out into the endpapers and gives me the subtlest and wittiest coda to a picture book I’ve ever seen, it has my adoration for life.