Review: 100 Things That Make Me Happy by Amy Schwartz

100 things that make me happy

100 Things That Make Me Happy by Amy Schwartz

This flowing and joyous picture book lists one after another things that make someone happy.  Told in rhyming couplets, the book has a jaunty lilt to it that moves it right along.  Though it could become stagnant, this list of happy things never does.  Instead there are little surprises as the book continues, moments that are funny, others that will have young readers nodding along about how much they too love things like sticky glue or camping trips or double scoops.  Perfect for preschoolers to celebrate what makes them happy too, this book is sure to create smiles.

With all of the attention on gratitude journals and seeing that small things in life are what makes us happy, this book fits right in.  Schwartz taps into moments of universal joy and also ones that will inspire new additions to the list.  She manages to keep each page fresh, listing the things one by one.  The font design adds to the cheerful feel as the words are shown straight, curving, and even wiggling along. 

The illustrations too carry that cheer with their bright color and plenty of movement and motion.  They show people of all races on the page, younger and older children, so everyone will be welcomed to share in the happiness.  The images that go from one large one per page to several at a time.  Those changes in pace make for a more dynamic read and one that never grows sing-songy at all.

A book that inspires smiles and pure joy, this book will have universal appeal.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Voyage by Billy Collins


Voyage by Billy Collins, illustrated by Karen Romagna

The former US Poet Laureate wrote this poem in honor of John Cole who is the Director of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.  The poem celebrates reading and books, and the voyage of discovery that writing and words can take us on.  In the book, a young boy gets on a boat and travels across the open sea.  When he can no longer see land, the boat turns into a book which he starts to read.  When he finishes the book, he becomes the book.  The moon looks down as the boy returns to shore with his boat and his book.

Collins offers children a book that truly introduces them to poetry.  This is a book that asks children to stretch and understand that there is more to the story than is right on the page in the words.  The poem is about reading, about journeys, about wonder and the way that books can inspire and change us.  That is not there on the page, and yet it is there if you look for it.  This is a great book to introduce children to deeper poetry and how it too is dazzling.

Romagna’s illustrations take a literal look at the poem, offering images of what the words are depicting and also hinting at the depths behind them as well.  Filled with moments of whimsy with a friendly moon and a blowing cloud with a face, the illustrations are friendly and celebratory.

A poetic picture book that will make a great gift for book lovers, those who enjoy Billy Collins, and children who are ready for their own voyage into poetry.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.