Jon Klassen

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Jon Klassen

Jon Klassen in 2016.
Jon Klassen in 2016.
Born (1981-11-29) November 29, 1981 (age 41)
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
OccupationIllustrator, writer
GenreChildren's picture books, animation
Notable works
Notable awardsGovernor General's Award
Caldecott Medal
Greenaway Medal

Jon Klassen CM (born November 29, 1981)[1] is a Canadian writer and illustrator of children's books and an animator. He won both the American Caldecott Medal and the British Kate Greenaway Medal for children's book illustration, recognizing the 2012 picture book This Is Not My Hat, which he also wrote.[2][3][4][5] He is the first person to win both awards for the same work.[a]

This Is Not My Hat is a companion to Klassen's preceding picture book, I Want My Hat Back (2011), which was his first as both writer and illustrator.[6] Both books were on the New York Times Best Seller list for more than 40 weeks; by April 2014 one or the other had been translated into 22 languages and they had jointly surpassed one million worldwide sales.[6] Both books were recommended for children ages 5+ by the Greenaway judges.[7][8] Klassen's "hat" trilogy was completed with the publication of We Found a Hat (2016).

Early life and education[edit]

Klassen was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, in 1981 and grew up in Niagara Falls and Toronto, Ontario.[1][9] He studied animation[10] at Sheridan College, graduated in 2005,[11] and moved to Los Angeles.[3]


In 2005, he made an animated short with Daniel Rodrigues, An Eye for Annai.[12][13] He worked on animation of the feature films Kung Fu Panda (2008)[14] and Coraline (2009)[15] and he was art director for the 2009 animated music video of "I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight" by U2.[16][17]

In 2010, Klassen achieved international recognition when he was awarded the Governor General's Award for English-language children's illustration for his work on the picture book Cats' Night Out, written by Carolyn Stutson.[18] He also illustrated The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood, the first novel in a HarperCollins series called The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place along with the second and third, and the first edition hardcover of the fourth novel in the series.[19][b]

His first solo picture book was I Want My Hat Back, published by Candlewick Press in September 2011. It features a bear looking for his hat, who finally finds it and then off-page eats the rabbit who stole it.[20] The New York Times Book Review named it one of the "10 Best Illustrated Children's Books for 2011".[21] The book was published in September by Candlewick Press.[22] Klassen said of the ending, which has been called a "subversive risk", that "there was no other way for it to end". It achieved considerable commercial success, and even became an internet meme when people started "posting their own versions of the story".[15] Pamela Paul praised the book in review for The New York Times: "it is a wonderful and astonishing thing, the kind of book that makes child laugh and adult chuckle, and both smile in appreciation ... [it is] a charmingly wicked little book and the debut of a promising writer-illustrator talent."[23] According to the Chicago Tribune, "the joy of this book lies in figuring out the explicit plot from the implicit details in the pictures."[24] There has been some discussion of the ending, however: is it appropriate in a children's book that one character kills another without repercussion? A bookseller, who "need[ed] to go on record as saying I LOVE this book", reported that some customers love it until they turn the last pages.[25] It was a runner-up for the American Geisel Award (books for beginning readers)[26] and made the Greenaway shortlist.[7]

Klassen modified the story in a companion book one year later, This Is Not My Hat (Candlewick, 2012). It features a little fish who steals and wears the hat of a big fish, whom the little one evades until the last pages. Finally the big fish swims back into the book, wearing the hat, with no sign of the thief. This one won the Caldecott and Greenaway Medals, from the American and British professional librarians respectively.[2][4][c] According to the award committee, "With minute changes in eyes and the slightest displacement of seagrass, Klassen's masterful illustrations tell the story the narrator doesn't know."[3][d] Klassen was also awarded with a Caldecott Honor that same year for Extra Yarn, only the second time that has happened.[27][28] The Greenaway recognizes "distinguished illustration in a book for children", not necessarily a picture book. According to the British judges, "The format and layout work perfectly to convey the underwater location with the movement of the action flowing with the water from left to right. ... The juxtaposition of text and image works with perfect comic timing. Amazing expression is conveyed by the eyes and dramatic tension by little bubbles."[8] The Greenaway is paired in a London announcement and presentation ceremony with the Carnegie Medal for children's literature, which recognized a controversially grim young-adult novel in 2014. According to the press release, "both winners independently argued that children benefit from stories without happy endings."[5] Klassen said in his acceptance speech, "Making a book, you're kind of going out on a limb in the belief that what you think of as a satisfying story is the same as what other people think of as a satisfying story. This doesn't mean everything in the story turns out alright for everybody, but you, as a storyteller, try and make sure it ends the way the story should end."[5]

Klassen illustrated The Dark (2013), written by Lemony Snicket, which made the Greenaway Medal shortlist of eight books alongside This Is Not My Hat.[8][c][e]He teamed up with Mac Barnett again in 2014, on a picture book published by Candlewick, Sam and Dave Dig a Hole.[29]

In 2019, I Want My Hat Back, This Is Not My Hat, and We Found a Hat were released in a boxed set by Candlewick Press as Jon Klassen's Hat Box.[30]


As author and illustrator

  • The Hat Trilogy
    • I Want My Hat Back (Candlewick, Sep 2011), ISBN 9780763655983
    • This Is Not My Hat (Candlewick, Oct 2012), ISBN 9780763655990
    • We Found a Hat (Candlewick, Oct 2016), ISBN 9780763656003
  • The Rock from the Sky (Candlewick, Apr 2021), ISBN 9781536215625
  • The Skull: A Tyrolean Folktale (Candlewick, July 2023), ISBN 9781536223361

As illustrator

With Mac Barnett
Children's picture books illustrated
Other books illustrated
  • The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place – series of novels by Maryrose Wood (published by Balzer + Bray)
(Book V: The Unmapped Sea (Apr 2015), ISBN 9780062110411, was illustrated by Eliza Wheeler)



  1. ^ Klassen was not the first illustrator to win a Caldecott Medal and Kate Greenaway Award for the same book. Gail Haley was the first for her book A Story, A Story.
  2. ^ Klassen also illustrated the first two Incorrigible Children sequels, published in 2011 and 2012. Another illustrator, Eliza Wheeler, handled the paperback version of the fourth novel along with every version of the novels that were published after.
  3. ^ a b Publication year for the British CILIP awards is the school year, roughly, September 2012 to August 2013 for consideration in 2014. Publication year for the American Library Association awards is the preceding calendar year.
    The ALA considers only picture books for the Caldecott Medal. CILIP considers all illustrated children's books for the Greenaway and its judges recommended the eight books on its 2014 shortlist for children as old as ages 9+.[8]
  4. ^ Klassen also earned one of five Caldecott Honor in 2013 as the illustrator of Extra Yarn, written by Mac Barnett. Only Leonard Weisgard previously illustrated two books honored in one year, 1947.
  5. ^ Other illustrators have recently placed two books on the Greenaway shortlist, in 2008 and 2002.


  1. ^ a b "Jon Klassen". Britannica Online for Kids ( Retrieved 23 November 2013.
  2. ^ a b "Caldecott Medal & Honor Books, 1938–Present". Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC). American Library Association (ALA).
      "The Randolph Caldecott Medal". ALSC. ALA. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
  3. ^ a b c "Newbery – Katherine Applegate, Jon Klassen win Newbery, Caldecott Medals". ALA Press Release. 28 January 2013. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
  4. ^ a b (Greenaway Winner 2014) Archived 16 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine. Living Archive: Celebrating the Carnegie and Greenaway Winners. Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP). Retrieved 1 July 2014.
  5. ^ a b c "Press Desk: 'Children Don't Need Happy Endings' say winners of UK's most prestigious children's book awards" Archived 2014-07-09 at the Wayback Machine. Press release 23 June 2014, with press kit. CILIP. Retrieved 1 July 2014.
  6. ^ a b Lodge, Sally (10 April 2014). "Klassen's 'Hat' Books Hit One-Million Mark". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
  7. ^ a b Kate Greenaway Medal – Judges' comments on the shortlist. Press release 12 March 2013. CILIP. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
  8. ^ a b c d Kate Greenaway Medal – Judges' comments on the shortlist. Press release 18 March 2014. CILIP. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
  9. ^ "Canadian writer Jon Klassen wins U.S. children's book prize". CBC News. 28 January 2013. Retrieved 23 November 2013.
  10. ^ Williams, Nate (31 December 2008). "Interview with Jon Klassen". Illustration Mundo ( Archived from the original on 29 January 2009. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
  11. ^ "Jon Klassen: Bringing Stories to Life". Sheridan College. Archived from the original on 16 October 2011. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
  12. ^ "Vu sur le www: Des canards, un œil, etc". Libération: Ecrans (in French). 4 August 2008. Archived from the original on 16 May 2013. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
  13. ^ "Child's Play". The Washington Post. 1 July 2007. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
  14. ^ "A Sarmede Jon Klassen: illustratore di Kung Fu Panda". Cultura e Tempo Libero (in Italian). 4 August 2011. Archived from the original on 8 May 2012. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
  15. ^ a b Flinn, Sue Carter (19 December 2011). "Canadian illustrator Jon Klassen finds success with I Want My Hat Back". Quill & Quire. Archived from the original on 27 May 2013. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
  16. ^ "Irish Animator David O'Reilly Directs Latest U2 Video". Irish Film and Television Network. 24 July 2009. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
  17. ^ Sims, James (23 July 2009). "Sofa Snark: U2 Goes 'Crazy' For Animation". Retrieved 2 January 2012.
  18. ^ Wyatt, Nelson (17 November 2010). "GG Literary Award winners 'stunned,' 'overwhelmed'". Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
  19. ^ Just, Julie (11 April 2010). "Children's Books; Bookshelf". The New York Times. p. BR15. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
  20. ^ Bird, Elizabeth (28 May 2011). "Review of the Day: I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen". A Fuse #8 Production. School Library Journal. Archived from the original on 19 December 2011. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
  21. ^ Paul, Pamela (3 November 2011). "The 2011 Best Illustrated Children's Books". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
  22. ^ Liu, Jonathan (20 September 2011). "Picture (Book) Perfect: I Want My Hat Back". Archived from the original on 5 December 2013. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
  23. ^ Paul, Pamela (13 October 2011). "Children's Books; Not Just Another Bear Story". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
  24. ^ Russell, Mary Harris. "'I Want My Hat Back' by Jon Klassen". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
  25. ^ Leavitt, Josie (September 2011). "Should the Bear Eat the Rabbit?". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
  26. ^ "(Theodor Seuss) Geisel Award winners and honor books, 2006–present". ALSC. ALA. Retrieved 1 July 2014.
  27. ^ "2013 Caldecott Medal and Honor Books". Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC). 27 January 2014. Retrieved 20 March 2019.
  28. ^ Robinson, Lolly (29 January 2013). "Caldecott 2013 post mortem — The Horn Book". Retrieved 20 March 2019.
  29. ^ Lodge, Sally (16 January 2014). "Candlewick Signs New Mac Barnett–Jon Klassen Collaboration". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 8 Mar 2014.
  30. ^ "Jon Klassen's Hat Box". Goodreads.
  31. ^ a b c "Past Winners (Irma Black Award)". Bank Street College of Education. Retrieved 8 May 2016.
  32. ^ a b c "Caldecott Medal & Honor Books, 1938-Present". American Library Association. 30 November 1999. Retrieved 8 May 2016.
  33. ^ "Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis 2013". Leibniz-Institut für Bildungsforschung und Bildungsinformation. Retrieved 22 May 2022.

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