This Is Not My Hat

Book review by
Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media
This Is Not My Hat Book Poster Image
Little fish tries to outsmart big one in funny thief tale.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Shows fish in their habitat, with undersea plants and a crab.

Positive Messages

Just because you think no one saw you doing something wrong doesn't mean you won't get caught or there won't be consequences. Also, it's implied that it's wrong to steal. And sometimes you can get into trouble by fooling yourself and being overconfident.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The big fish calmly seeks justice.

Violence & Scariness

It's implied but not shown that the big fish eats or otherwise overpowers the little fish to get his hat back.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that 2013 Caldecott Medal winner This Is Not My Hat is the follow-up (but not a sequel) to Jon Klassen's award-winning I Want My Hat Back. It's slyly funny as it pits an overconfident little fish who thinks he won't get caught against the big fish whose hat he stole. The text and illustrations are simple, but they pack a punch with understated humor and even a life lesson about moral comeuppance.

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What's the story?

A little fish steals a hat from a sleeping big fish and is confident that no one saw him do it and no one will catch him. He swims to \"where the tall plants grow big and tall and close together\" and is sure of one thing: \"Nobody will ever find me.\" But as the art slyly shows, someone does: the big fish.

Is it any good?

Fans of Jon Klassen's award-winning I Want My Hat Back (2011) will be happy to have another low-key but subversively funny adventure involving a wild creature and a hat. The minimalist illustrations tell so much, with the doomed reality often in contrast with the little fish's overconfident narration. For example, he boasts that the crab who saw him take the hat "said he wouldn't tell anyone which way I went." But on the very next page, we see the crab lift a claw, clearly showing the big fish the little one's escape route.

The story and images are simple, but the drama and subtle humor grow on you and stand up to repeated readings aloud, which kids will surely beg for.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether it's OK to steal. Is it still wrong, even if you can get away with it? Why?

  • If you read I Want My Hat Back, how do you think this books compares? Which one is funnier?

  • How do the pictures help tell the story? How do you know the big fish found the little fish?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love picture books

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