Review: Daniel’s Good Day by Micha Archer

Daniel's Good Day by Micha Archer

Daniel’s Good Day by Micha Archer (9780399546723)

When Daniel walks to his Grandma’s house, many of his neighbors tell him to “Have a good day!” So Daniel decides to find out what makes a good day for some of the people he meets. Mrs. Sanchez, who paints houses, has a good day when the skies are clear so that she can paint. Emma has her kite along and a good day is one with a steady wind. Some people want a shady bench, others for their little ones to take a nap, The bus driver wants a please and thank you, while the gardener is looking for bees on her flowers. Daniel’s grandmother says that a hug from Daniel makes for a good day for her. In the afternoon, as he returns home, Daniel discovers that everyone found what they needed to have a good day, and so did he.

This second book about Daniel is just as charming as the first. The premise of looking at simple things that make for a lovely day allows children to see the importance of small elements in their own lives. Nothing here costs money, all items are significant and create joy in that person’s life. The writing is simple and straightforward, using the structure of an answer to Daniel’s question to move ahead at a brisk pace of a child walking through his urban community.

The illustrations are beautiful. Done in paper collage, they are filled diverse community members. In a city setting, the art also shows gardens and parks to fill the pages with green. The vibrant community is captured very successfully on the page with bright colors and lots of activity.

Another winner for Daniel. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.



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: My Happy Life by Rose Lagercrantz

my happy life

My Happy Life by Rose Lagercrantz, illustrated by Eva Eriksson

Dani has a very happy life, something that she thinks about as she falls asleep every night.  She has a father who loves her very much and is about to start school for the first time.  At first Dani feels like she will never make any friends at school, but then she notices another little girl who is standing alone.  Soon Ella and Dani are best friends, inseparable.  That doesn’t mean that they don’t fight sometimes, but they never fought for long.  But all too soon, Dani discovers that Ella is moving away.  Now Dani has to figure out how to go on without her best friend and it’s not easy.  Dani ends up with a scraped knee and a bandaged head and even hurts a boy in her class by shoving him.  Yet, Dani is a naturally happy person and quickly apologizes for what she did.  It’s not easy, but she learns to move on from missing her friend to being happy once again.

Originally published in Sweden, this book has the feel of a European import.  It has a gentle feel to it but also a deep honesty that is wonderful to see.  Dani has had many challenges in her life, including losing her mother, but she is the epitome of a happy person who embraces joy in every way.  This is an uplifting book where there are challenges, lots of strong negative emotions, but in the end, happiness prevails in a very natural and unforced way.

The illustrations and text work together in harmony here.  I was actually surprised to see that they were done by two people rather than just one since they work so very well together.  The images of the two friends together are buoyant while those of Dani in more dark moods continue to shine with a subtle light even when sad or hurt.

Perfect for families who are trying to be more mindful and happy, this book is a joy to read and to share.  It would also make a great cuddling story for bedtime, leaving everyone smiling together.  Appropriate for ages 5-7.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Anna Hibiscus’ Song by Atinuke

anna hibiscus song

Anna Hibiscus’ Song by Atinuke, illustrated by Lauren Tobia

Anna Hibiscus returns in a picture book!  Anna Hibiscus lives in Africa with her extended family and they are very happy.  In fact, Anna Hibiscus is so happy that she almost floats out of the mango tree she is sitting in.  She doesn’t know what to do with herself, so she asks her grandparents, aunties, uncle, cousins and parents what they do when they feel so very happy.  Though Anna Hibiscus tries their techniques, she has to figure out what her own reaction to pure happiness is. 

This jolly picture book captures the essence of the chapter books featuring Anna Hibiscus.  Though the story is by necessity less detailed and shorter, it does a good job of setting the African stage for the story and revealing the deep love and connection that this family has.  The character of Anna Hibiscus is also shown clearly and concisely, neatly packaging her in a smaller form but losing none of her charm and wit.

Tobia’s illustrations also echo the chapter books closely.  They celebrate the African setting and the warmth of this home.  They also embrace the different skin colors of members of the family.  In the entire series, I have appreciated how frankly and naturally this is handled. 

This happy, merry story would be a great addition to units on emotions or a joyful read in any story time.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Kane Miller.

Also reviewed by The Artful Parent and Jean Little Library.