happy cover image Happy

Mies van Hout
Lemniscaat USA
Hardcover, 52 pages

We find it appropriate to be reviewing a children's book on emotions in this newsletter featuring Sylvia Plath and a book on our country's "depression." This book is full of such beautiful simplicity it's virtually impossible not to fall in love with it. Each double-page spread is constructed with an image of a fish on one side, in what looks like a chalk drawing on a blackboard. Opposite is a single hand-lettered word, also drawn in chalk or crayon, on a jewel-toned, textured sheet. "Brave" is a very small pale fish with a tentative smile, isolated in the lower corner of the black page, opposite a cherry-red page with the word brave in lower-case white letters. "Sad" is small, smeared letters on a blue page like streaks of rain or tears. The large blue fish opposite has little definition; eyes and mouth are almost invisible in its misery.
While there isn't a "story" in this book per se, it is intended for children as old as 8 years. Identifying and recognizing emotions is something for kids of all ages.