106 of 129 people found the following review helpful
Use Your Own Judgment and You'll Be Fine,
This review is from: I Want My Hat Back (Hardcover)
My sons, ages 5 and 7, received this as a Christmas gift. I had never heard of the book before this, so I had no preconceived notions of how good/bad it was and I'm grateful I didn't.
First of all, there is something to be said for the simplicity of the story, the illustrations and the tongue-in-cheek humor that is an undertone throughout this book. My sons both loved the illustrations and the story in general. I did have to reread the end of the book to see if I understood what happened correctly (I did) and explain the ending to my sons. My oldest replied "Well I guess that's what happens when you're a rabbit and a bear." And that, my friends, is the answer to any questions you may have about this book in a nutshell. Bears and rabbits don't always get along in the natural world, especially if you trick a bear. It also opened up a discussion on how wildlife really works, and that alone is a good thing.
Now some reviewers have called the bear a murderer, which is more than a little harsh in my opinion. I mean, don't bears hunt for food? Okay, the rabbit tricks the bear, but does that mean he has to end up with the fate given to him. In children's literature, no. In real life, yes. Take your pick as to how you want the story to go. My sons understood the bear had been tricked or lied to and that he ended up with an unfortunate fate. They weren't traumatized by this, it was just something that happened, something that really does happen.
My bigger concern for the book is regarding the lying. Rabbit lies and gets punished in the end. While harsh, if the story ended there, it would carry, to some degree, a good message about lying and that is has consequences. But the book ends with lies still being taught and so no one really comes away learning a positive lesson. This had me more dismayed than the fate of the rabbit. Why the story ends this way, I have no idea, but again, I'm not sure the author meant for this to be a "lesson" book. He probably sat down, wrote a story about animals he thought was cute and sent it to be published.
The truth is, the story is fine, the illustrations are simple and effective. If you want to pick it apart you can. If you want to read it for what it is - a nice story with some flaws - you can do that too. That's why I gave it three stars. It's really up to the reader and/or the parent to take this book for what it's worth - a teaching opportunity on at least two levels. If you're not up to that, the book will be a huge disappointment. If you are, then it's a fine book to have.
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Showing 1-10 of 11 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 17, 2012 9:12:26 AM PST
I agree with this reviewer who is uncomfortable about the lying. I visited my granddaughter (almost two) this last weekend, and she handed me this book to read to her. Some family friends had just given it as a gift, so I had not read it before. On the first read, I totally missed the fact that the bear had eaten the rabbit, but I did not miss the fact that the rabbit lied to the bear about not seeing his hat. Then my son pointed out the 'real' ending, and I was even more uncomfortable because I then realized that the bear sought revenge and then lies about what he has done. Yes, in nature, one animal eats another, but I do not like the personification here where a lie is unashamedly told and then when the truth is realized, the 'offended' party gets revenge rather than politely asking for his hat to be returned and perhaps having the rabbit admit his fault and ask forgiveness. Seeking revenge is not the message I want to send to my grandchild(ren).
Posted on Apr 18, 2012 11:38:30 AM PDT
aimee l armour says:
Great review and solids points. I think you hit on exactly what it was that bothered me most - the lie at the end removing any positive take-a-ways. I expected the bear to go back and confront the rabbit. I was looking forward to how the author would handle that in fact. But instead the end seems like a cop out to make the whole story tie together with a neat little repetition, a repetition that unfortunately sends the completely wrong message.
In reply to an earlier post on May 1, 2012 8:58:25 AM PDT
Amazon Customer says:
I think you are taking the book WAY too seriously. It's make believe. Animals don't talk, and I am sure your granddaughter knows that.
Posted on Jun 9, 2012 11:03:22 PM PDT
Posted on Jul 9, 2012 10:18:25 AM PDT
This post makes me sad. Stories are not about pounding morals into our children. Stories are about showing them the world, feeding their imaginations, setting them free to be the best thing they can--not the thing we think they should be. Of course there is a place for teaching lessons, but this book is fantastic precisely because it isn't a teaching book. It's a rebellious book. It's a book that revels in the joy and hilarity of doing bad things, like EATING the "person" who stole your hat. Please stop thinking about "positive take-aways" and start thinking about the ways that good stories set us free instead of constraining us.
In reply to an earlier post on Jul 14, 2012 12:43:13 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 14, 2012 1:30:08 PM PDT
D. J. Glasgow says:
You could use this book as a "teachable moment," since your child already has the book--and I'm sure you probably have. This could bring up the subject of lying, and why it is wrong to lie, etc. However, I agree with Adriana and concerned Riddle Poem Solver that the book is good for children's imaginations and shouldn't be taken too seriously!
In reply to an earlier post on Aug 13, 2012 5:19:52 AM PDT
With respect, I think you're quite mistaken. If the book had ended with the bear "politely asking for his hat to be returned and perhaps having the rabbit admit his fault and ask forgiveness", the only message your grandddaughter would have got from that would be "grown-ups like to give me preachy books where everyone behaves in an implausibly Googy-Two-Shoes way".
The message in the ending of this book - and if you didn't get it, trust me, your granddaughter will - is that revenge feels good when we're in a red rage, but it doesn't feel good for long; when we're called on it we'll be as shifty and defensive about what we've done as the original 'criminal' was. That's a far subtler, more convincing, and more useful lesson that anything your preferred ending has to offer.
Posted on Nov 15, 2012 2:00:14 PM PST
Josephine Darling says:
Oh for Pete's sake! The bear is not a "good" bear or a "bad" bear; he's just a funny character in a hilarious story. In my elementary school we teach "author's purpose". The three choices? Persuade, inform, entertain. This is clearly intended purely as entertainment. It does not intend to inform us about animal behavior nor is it intended to persuade us that lying is wrong. It just makes us laugh and it does that beautifully in a surprisingly simple and elegant fashion. This book is art. I just love it! But then I'm a children's librarian possessed with both dark humor and a light heart.
Posted on Nov 14, 2013 10:59:07 PM PST
The book highlights what can be learned from how someone responds. When someone has nothing to hide, they respond neutrally. Hence the turtle responds to the question by saying "I haven't seen anything all day. I have been trying to climb this rock." The rabbit in contrast responds defensively because he has something to hide, "No. Why are you asking me. I would not steal a hat. Don't ask me any more questions." When the bear responds similarly at the end, the book is not encouraging murder. It is simply a final expression of the book's main point.
Posted on Apr 1, 2014 3:26:28 PM PDT
C. Campbell says:
This is quite a good review for parents, who must always decide what lessons and truths they will convey to their children.