Friday, January 20, 2017
the happiest book ever, written and illustrated by Bob Shea. Disney Hyperion, Hachette. 2016. $17.99 ages 2 and up
How are you today?
Maybe we can make
things a little happier?
Can you clap your hands
and say "YELLOW BO-BELLOW'?
If you have a penchant for interactive books, or you know kids who love to hear them, this is a great deal of fun - and very HAPPY. Except for the frowny frog ...
The narrator is so upbeat and willing to do whatever it takes to bring a smile to our faces. It cannot help but feel disillusioned by the inability to bring the frog around to its way of thinking. Readers and the book itself are willing participants in the concerted attempts to bring smiles and laughter. Facing ages to the narrator's inviting suggestions become lively and animated, filled with images sure to delight young readers and bring a smile.
In spite of that, the frog manages to bring a sense of serious contemplation and ennui to the experience. It is enough to set the narrative face on a path to anger and ultimatum:
"SCRAM! Silly old frog!
No one wants you here! We're
making the happiest book ever,
not the frowniest book ever!"
When the frog disappears, there is a change of heart - and a lesson in kindness.
I love, as will the kids who share this book, the zaniness of the premise for the telling. The bold colors, the ever-changing images, and the pure delight felt in experiencing some of the happiness sought will have them laughing as they pore over its pages and ultimately realize that each of us is different and our personalities are meant to be honored and appreciated.