We own this author's first book (I Want My Hat) - which is so brilliant I couldn't wait to buy his next book. My son recently complained that too many of books were "the same". He wanted something truly unique and that is how we found Jon Klassen. I must point out though, that the black humour in these books may not appeal to all children - and in fact may upset some. I would advise parents to read this on thier own before sitting down to storytime.
This story is about a small fish who steals a hat from a much larger fish. He is quite pleased with himself, gloating about how he will get away with his crime - but crime doesn't pay and tiny fish should not antagonise big ones. Tiny fish swims through blackened ocean happily talking to himself about how big fish will never know what happened, will never find him etc.... All the while big fish is swimming behind getting closer and closer. I will not give away the ending - but I will say it might upset some children. However, the unhappy parts are not actually shown, they are simply implied by illustration so you can easily craft your own happier ending.
This has an absolutely delightful deadpan humour. My children are ages 4 and 7, and although my 7 year old rarely reads picture books anymore, he did enjoy this - and I have to admit - so did I. The illustrations are striking as well. I very much like the black water as opposed to traditional blue. It adds to the uniqueness of this book. It also a nice book to discuss the morality of taking things that do not belong to you with children.
But in addition to being a brilliant story certain to entice reluctant readers, this book, is a wonderful resource for reading instruction. The early readers by Dr Seuss were limited to 250 words. This book uses only 92 and almost all of these are extremely easy to read words, which would be on the same list the Dr Seuss books were drawn from. Most of the words are common one syllable words easily sounded out with phonics and familiar to most children such as "hat", "fish", "big" and "small". The most challenging words in this book were "probably" and " worried" but if a child can read the rest of the book they can easily learn two new words for one book. In addition, the text is in a very large clear black font, on a white background with good spacing in between lines, making it ideal for new readers or children with dyslexia. Most pages only have one or two short sentences - this would make the ideal reading primer and it is ever so much more fun than Peter and Jane. It's high interest level and slightly wicked wit will appeal to older children as well, making this the perfect book for children who are reading below age level. This really is a book that can be enjoyed by all ages.
If you do enjoy this book - I must suggest you try "I Want My Hat" as well which is even easier to read with only 68 words.