We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen; Candlewick Press, $17.99.
The wondrous, funny, wise and lovely “We Found a Hat” is the last in a trilogy of picture books starring animals and hats from gifted author-illustrator Jon Klassen, a native of Niagara Falls, Ont., and follows “I Want My Hat Back” (a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor book) and “This Is Not My Hat” (winner of the Caldecott Medal). The inviting cover, with its muted desert sand pink fading to tan, introduces the droll forms of two turtle friends, their beady eyes staring out at the reader from either side of the white hat. The story, brief and deceptively simple, is divided into parts: “Finding the Hat,” “Watching the Sunset” and “Going to Sleep.” In spare but perfect prose, the story unfolds, of friends finding a wonderful hat, trying it on, deciding “it would not be right if one of us had a hat and the other did not,” one edging closer to the hat while his friend is sleeping, only to learn that his friend is having a wonderful dream that includes his friend and more than one hat. The gorgeous illustrations of a stylized desert landscape were created “digitally and with powdered graphite.” Klassen also illustrated several other marvelous picture books including “House Held Up by Trees,” by former Poet Laureate Ted Kooser, “The Dark by Lemony Snicket” and Mac Barnett’s charming “Sam & Dave Dig a Hole.”
– Jean Westmoore
Tales of the Peculiar by Ransom Riggs; Dutton Books, $24.99. Ages 12 and up.
Ransom Riggs, creator-of best-selling “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” fantasy novels featuring illustrations using strange old black and white photographs, follows up on his peculiar mythology with this hypnotically strange collection of fairy tales. The tales – sometimes funny and often disturbing – are illustrated with engravings by Andrew Davidson. In the first tale, “The Splendid Cannibals,” set in the town of Swampmuck, the peculiars live a happy if simple existence until wealthy cannibals arrive and start an arrangement of paying the locals for their limbs (which grow back), an arrangement which greed escalates into excess and disaster. (One example of Riggs’ humor: Mister Bachelard “owed the bank an arm and a leg every month just to pay interest on the loan. So, he needed to sell his ears.”) A different kind of happily ever after is put forth in “The Fork-Tongued Princess” featuring a princess who has kept secret her forked tongue and her back of “shimmering, diamond-patterned scales” only to be forced to reveal them to her prince. The beguiling “Cocobolo,” set during the reign of Kublai Khan in ancient China, is a tale of a famous ocean explorer lost at sea and a son who tries to distance himself from a promise made only to find himself overcome by a mysterious affliction of seagrass sprouting from his feet and seaweed from his armpits. Architect Christopher Wren has a major role in bringing peace between pigeon and human in “The Pigeons of Saint Paul’s” A doctor’s daughter discovers she can yank a thread from the ear to cure bad dreams in “The Girl Who Could Tame Nightmares” only to find herself threatened by the ball of tangled bad-dream threads she has nicknamed Baxter. The tales stand on their own but likely will be of most interest to fans of Riggs’ trilogy.
– Jean Westmoore