Don’t be fooled by the title: Jon Klassen says This Is Not My Hat, coming from Candlewick in October, is not a sequel to his breakout bestseller, last year’s I Want My Hat Back.
“The hat is more of a device, a motor for the story,” said Klassen in a phone interview conducted outside a California elementary school where he had just met with some adoring fans. “When I finished it, I wondered, ‘Should it be a hat?’ You could put anything on an animal. The hat is just an abstract object. Animals don’t wear them. Or steal them. It was an absurd thing to begin with.”
The hat stayed. But everything else about the new book, which features a tiny fish wearing a pale blue bowler, is something of a photo negative of its predecessor. The first hat book was written entirely in dialogue; Hat 2 is a monologue.
“The first book, the values were dark on light, now the values are light on dark,” said Klassen, who loved the palette made available by the story’s underwater setting. “Working on black is the most fun. I really loved it.”
The trim size is precisely the same, but the orientation is horizontal rather than vertical. “When you see the interior it will make sense as to why we turned it 90 degrees,” said Klassen’s editor, Candlewick’s Liz Bicknell. “It’s a chase scene.”
Uh-oh. Is the tiny minnow destined to suffer an untimely end? “He’s in peril but he’s fairly confident about his chances,” Klassen said. “He’s sort of walking us through his plan to escape. Although, the pictures aren’t doing the same thing.”
Not to worry, Bicknell assures us. “What Jon does even more successfully in this book is build suspense,” she said. “Children will be very invested in the story especially since they are in the position of knowing more about what’s happening than the narrator does.”
Candlewick is not announcing a first print run (think: huge) for the Oct. 9 release. A 15-city tour is also in the works, and will include some stops in Canada, where Klassen was born and raised. (Read more about his background here). He’ll also be making pre-publication appearances at the Bologna Book Fair, BEA and, closer to his current home in Los Angeles, at ALA’s annual conference in Anaheim. “There has been a lot of interest in meeting him,” Bicknell said.
This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen. Candlewick, $15.99 ISBN 978-0-7636-5599-0