by Jon Klassen
So I love this book. Like, the “well, why don’t you marry it?!” kind of love.
I read it in June at the Candlewick Booth at ALA. The people were lining up to meet Gary Ross (Big! The Hunger Games! Seabiscuit, even!) and I was huddled over F and Gs of this book with my friend, Dianne de Las Casas. We giggled and poked and and pointed and just delighted over this thing.
And then in August at the SCBWI Illlustrator’s Intensive, Jon Klassen shared an earlier draft of this book. It had a different title, different characters, but the same charm and an even more wicked sense of humor.
It was like I had run away with the Hope Diamond and the Smithsonian security guards just nodded and let me escape. (Ask me about the time my dad chaperoned the 5th grade field trip and one of the boys smuggled a whoopee cushion into the Natural History museum.)
Anyway. Seeing his process was capital UNREAL.
A fish. A stolen hat. A sleeper. Awakes. A chase. A resolution?
Jon Klassen’s art is both dazzling and understated. This book, like I Want My Hat Back, has a desaturated and limited color palette. But here, the black and white helps tell this stark story.
And the characters themselves are quite a different pair. The massive victim fish that quietly exacts revenge contrasts the tiny, hat-stealing, filmflammy fish.
Would the story be as fantastic if their size was more similar or if the colors were not so vastly different?
Knowing Jon Klassen, probably. But do those decisions perfect this book? Absolutely.
Check out this hysterical interview with Jon Klassen over at Travis Jonkers’ blog, 100 Scope Notes. And this post, from the Horn Book’s Calling Caldecott blog, written by Lolly Robinson. Both of these blogs should take up residence in your mess of bookmarks, by the way! Always smart, always impeccable taste.
And the trailer! Mesmerizing.