"Don't steal" is one message of "This is Not My Hat," named Jan. 28 as winner of the Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children. "Don't get caught" is another. The humorous story of a tiny fish who steals a hat from a big fish lets its visual images provide hints that keep readers following the fish and imagining the dangerous consequences.
“This Is Not My Hat” is probably not a bedtime book," according to a New York Times review. The little fish is up front about his theft and his belief that he will get away with it.
"Meanwhile, the pictures show the big fish waking up and methodically, inexorably hunting the little fish down until they are both deep in the weeds, from which the big fish emerges alone," the review said. "Only God knows what happened, but the big fish has recouped his hat."
Dark humor notwithstanding, it's a fun read, but maybe not for very small children, the reviewer wrote.
Five Honor Books were named alongside the Caldecott Medal-winner for 2013.
"Creepy Carrots," illustrated by Peter Brown and written by Aaron Reynolds, is about a rabbit who loves carrots until they start taking over his world. The slightly sinister tale hits the perfect tone for children who like to be scared, just not very much, said a review for School Library Journal.
"Extra Yarn," illustrated by Jon Klassen and written by Mac Barnett, uses shifts of color to signal character change and plot turns in the story of a selfish archduke trying to halt a little girl's knitted transformation of a colorless town by stealing her box of yarn.
The book "subtly delivers the message that any child has the ability to see what is possible instead of what is currently there, and to change the world around them," according to the Adventures in Parenting blog. "The way Annabelle does this is so wonderfully captured in Jon Klassen’s illustrations. There is such a stark contrast between the inked black and white town that she starts out in, and the page in which all the buildings appear almost like bright rainbows in the snow."
"Green," illustrated and written by Laura Vaccaro Seeger, engages all the senses with a fresh approach to the multiple meanings of “green.”
"This 32-word book introduces different kinds of green by pairing thumping rhymes with boldly painted pictures and cutouts that, like windows, show a different view depending on whether you’re looking in or out," according to the One-Minute Book Reviews blog.
"One Cool Friend," illustrated by David Small and written by Toni Buzzeo, uses energetic lines and dizzying perspective to create a rollicking tale of a father, a son and a penguin.
"Clever illustrations and a wild surprise ending make this sly, silly tale of friendship and wish fulfillment a kid-pleaser from start to finish," said a review at the Indie Bound blog.
"Sleep Like a Tiger," with art by Pamela Zagarenski and written by Mary Logue, provides fresh treatment to the common theme of a child not ready for bed, said a review at the School Library Journal website.
The Caldecott Award is named in honor of 19th-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.