ES Students in NOVA love Jon Klassen books. It is obvious that they do not care about the numerous international awards and popularity Klassen has won but are simply and absolutely fascinated by the visually striking, darkly funny stories. They laugh out loud at the humor and unexpected outcomes; point out details in the illustrations and figure out the implications; imitate the tones of the characters; are eager to share their ideas about the open ends.
Who is Jon Klassen? Jon Klassen started out as an animator in 2006 in Dreamworks and was immediately successful. He participated in the animation of An Eye for Annai, Kung Fu Panda and Coroline (based on the book Coroline by Neil Gaiman). Even though he was fully praised for his animation work, he revealed in an interview that ‘These studios are great places to work but they are such big boats to steer,’. ‘I was learning so much from people there – they were very skilled – but the more I developed my skills, the more I wanted to work on my own.’
The writer has made a powerful impression in just a few books. One of the most noticed characteristics of his stories and pictures is that they always create something that appears utterly simple. It reflects his belief that ‘The simpler you keep it, the more emotional it can be.’ Take I Want My Hat Back as an example. It features an expressionless brown bear. The bear quizzes his fellow forest animals - a frog, turtle, snake and a rabbit – in search of a missing hat. Eventually students figure out the hidden crime of passion rather than a crime of necessity. The irony and appeal lies in the stark contrast between the bear's impeccable manners, his stiff pose, the lies spun in the dialogue and the bear's eyes, which dart about nervously. Both children and adults recognize the very human emotions of covering up misdeeds.
If you have not read his work, come check out some of his books in EMS libraries.
Titles written and illustrated by Jon Klassen
I Want My Hat Back, by Klassen (Candlewick Press, Sep 2011)
This Is Not My Hat, by Klassen (Candlewick, Oct 2012)
We Found a Hat, by Klassen (Candlewick, Oct 2016)
Titles illustrated by Jon Klassen
The Dark, by Lemony Snicket (Little, Brown, Apr 2013)
Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, by Barnett (Candlewick, Oct 2014)
Pax, by Sara Pennypacker (Balzer + Bray, Feb 2016)