A lesson in 3-act plot structure for picture books
Thereafter, the pictures do the work. In the final spread two little tortoises in ten-gallon hats drift side by side up into a night sky.
There’s not a whiff of sanctimony thanks to Klassen’s signature deadpan humour. And, I suggest, what the New York Times called his “poetic restraint”? I’m saying nuffin’, but you’ll see an example on the spread where the only text is “Nothing.” This page cracks SP up.
Act 11, an obstacle to harmony – dodgy tortoise is conflicted (shown simply by the angle of his eyeballs. Genius!) Obstacle two, he fibs. The action continues to rise (Klassen’s “Going to Sleep”) when dodgy tortoise sneaks back to the hat. The Act III climax occurs when Dodgy learns of his friend’s generous dream and settles down beside him… hat-free. So, three acts following the Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Falling Action structure. (See template.)
What did I learn from this top-class story:
'We Found a Hat' written and illustrated by Jon Klassen
P.S. When reading this story I was struck by how odd it would seem for a San audience. Anyone who found an abandoned hat in the Kalahari would immediately don it, until a friend admired it, whereupon it would be gifted to them. And so on and so on, until everyone in the group who liked/needed a hat got a chance to wear it. Just goes to show that even the best picture books might not work in other cultures.