I Want My Hat Back

Book review by
Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media
I Want My Hat Back Book Poster Image
Silly theft story ultimately shows bear is the boss.

Parents say

age 4+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 2+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Shows a varity of animals very young readers can identify.

Positive Messages

Stealing is wrong. There can be serious consequences for lying and stealing. Bears are big and strong, so it's best not to make them angry.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The bear is determined to get back what has been taken from him. Some animals tell the truth about whether they've seen the bear's hat. The rabbit lies.  

Violence & Scariness

It's implied (but not shown) that the bear eats the thieving rabbit.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that I Want My Hat Back is a Caldecott Honor book by author-illustrator Jon Klassen, who won the Caldecott Medal for This Is Not My Hat and illustrated Extra Yarn, also a Caldecott Honor book. This one's a big hit with kids and grown-ups alike, with a repetitive motif climaxed by a definitive conclusion to the bear's problem (although the violence is not shown). Readers will find the bear's victory over the thief amusing, but the implication that the bear ate him could be disturbing for some younger kids.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byGrade 4 Nashwaa... January 13, 2020

Super Interesting

This book is so hilarious that when you read it you will lose it with intense laughter! You will repeat read it 1 million times.

Kids under 4 years old wouldn... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old June 16, 2014

Grandpa present

My family got this for Christmas and we all think it is hilarious

What's the story?

A big bear's hat is gone and he wants it back. He asks other animals, one by one, \"Have you seen my hat?\" One by one they say no, until he realizes one of the animals was lying. (Kids can figure it out before the bear does.) Will that animal get away with his crime, or will the determined bear get his hat back -- and make the thief pay?

Is it any good?

I WANT MY HAT BACK is told entirely in dialogue and is a wonderful showcase for author-illustrator Jon Klassen's sly, deadpan humor. The low-key but determined bear gets what he wants in the end, and it doesn't look good for the thief. 

The repetitive motif is perfect for preschoolers, and the spare earth-toned  illustrations are fun, with just enough emotion to carry the tale in this Caldecott Honor book. However, having one character kill and eat another character (offstage) in a picture book may be a tad edgy for some families.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about picture books. How do the pictures help tell the story?

  • What clue did you spot that showed who took the bear's hat? 

  • Take a look at Jon Klassen's Extra Yarn. You'll find the bear in I Want My Hat Back makes a surprise appearance on one of the pages in that story.

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love picture books and humor

Themes & Topics

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