Title: We Found a Hat
Author: Jon Klassen
Illustrator: Jon Klassen
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Audience: Preschool – Grade 3
Summary: What should two turtle friends do when they discover a hat in the desert sand? While it looks great on each of them, it would not be right for only one of them to have such a handsome hat, they decide, so they agree to leave it behind. Unfortunately, one of them can’t stop thinking about it. A dream provides a happy ending.
Literary elements at work in the story: This is a story that plays with standard literary conventions. It is a narrative driven by a plot in which very little happens. It is a tale about the perils of temptation on a friendship in which these deep and complicated forces are conveyed wordlessly with a turtle side eye. It is a sort of a fable at the end of which the reader finds no clear moral.
How does the perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability make a difference to the story? The two unnamed protagonists are the only characters in the story, differentiated only by the patterns on their shells. The reader learns nothing about their gender, race, culture, or income.
Theological Conversation Partners: The young children who would be listening to this story will certainly have experienced wanting material things, and they are beginning to learn the rules which govern friendships. This book would be a fine one to use in conversations about God’s plan for human community and how our desire for things can disrupt that plan. One of the unnamed turtles in We Found a Hat has more than a passing acquaintance with the no-coveting commandment (Exodus 20:17), even though fine-looking cowboy hats that don’t technically belong to anyone are not expressly forbidden in scripture. Paul urges the Corinthians to value relationships above their own petty wishes: “All things are lawful, but not all things are beneficial. All things are lawful, but not all things build up. Do not seek your own advantage, but that of the other.” (1 Corinthians 10:23-34) James points out that many of our biggest stumbling blocks come as a result of covetousness: “You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts.” (4:2) Like many of Jesus’ parables, this story doesn’t give an obvious easy answer neatly wrapped up in a moral on the last page, but it does give plenty of food for thought and for discussion.
Faith Talk Questions:
- Tell me about the two turtles in this story. Are they friends? Sisters? Brothers? Strangers to one another?
- Why do they say that it would not be right if one of the turtles had the hat and the other one did not?
- Have you ever wanted something when there wasn’t enough to share with others?
- God wants the very best for us and for our friends. What do you think that God would want us to do when there is not enough of something for everyone?
- What do you think that the turtle who is awake in the nighttime is planning to do?
- What would have happened if that turtle had taken the hat?
- Do you like the ending of the story? Why or why not?
- Can you think of other endings that would have been good ones?
This review is written by Union Presbyterian Seminary alumna Beth Lyon-Suhring
We Found a Hat by Storypath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.