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Best new books for young kids

Turn your preschooler through second grader onto this season's top new page turners.

By Susan Freinkel

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I Want My Hat Back

By Jon Klassen

Ages: 4 and up

In I Want My Hat Back ($8.79), Bear has lost his beloved hat. He visits various animals, politely asking if they have seen it. Each says no and it looks like Bear will go hatless until a deer replies with a simple question that jogs his memory and he renews his search — now looking for the culprit who stole his hat. Spoiler alert: Bear ends up eating the offender. This sounds horrifying but actually isn't, partly because Bear exacts his revenge out of sight and partly because the dialogue and illustrations have such a droll, deadpan humor. The twist at the end, which is admittedly a little twisted, will leave all but the tenderest readers laughing.

Bottom line: The words and drawings leave so much unsaid that much of the fun in reading this with your child is teasing out what's going on.

Susan Freinkel is the author of Plastic: A Toxic Love Story and has written for the New York Times, Discover, Smithsonian, Real Simple, and other national publications.

Comments from GreatSchools.org readers

11/28/2011:
"Would you take a look at my book, "Monsters Do Ugly Things", as a possible add-on to this list? "
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