Picture Books of the Lost… and Found
Posted on December 8, 2020
Every Saturday morning, the Library uploads a new virtual storytime.
You should check them out – they’re fun, they’re free, they explore subjects ranging from cookies to dinosaurs to superheroes, and they’re among the best ways to use the internet this side of cat videos.
I’m also pretty partial to the one about bugs.
My most recent virtual storytime dropped on Nov. 28, and it was all about losing things and finding things.
You know what it’s like when you can’t find a toy, or your other shoe, or the TV remote? It’s pretty frustrating. And like all human miseries, it’s the subject of a lot of art and literature. The only reason Grant Wood didn’t follow up his famous painting “American Gothic” with “Byron Looks for His Pitchfork” is because by that time Grant had probably misplaced his brushes.
My favorite book about losing something – one of my favorite books about anything, really – is “I Want My Hat Back,” by Jon Klassen, in which a bear loses its hat and goes looking for it. That’s it. That’s the whole story.
The book’s as tense as a film noir, as deadpan as a Buster Keaton short, as compelling as a “Law and Order” episode, and has almost as many animals as “Dr. Doolittle.” It’s also a masterpiece of minimalism – it uses exactly as many words as it needs to tell its story, and not one word more.
It also raises eternal questions like: what is justice? What are the limits of forgiveness? And what’s the deal with turtles?
I didn’t read “I Want My Hat Back” in my virtual storytime, or any of the other books listed below about things lost and found, but you should. Losing things is an inescapable part of life, and one of the things books are good at is helping us contend with the inevitable.
And check out the virtual storytimes the Library puts out every week, including my next one on Dec. 26. It’s completely free and worth every penny.