Attitude rubs off in this peculiar German import first published as Herr Glück & Frau Unglück.
When the perennially cheerful Mr. Happy moves into the cottage next door to No. 13, which squats under an ever present black cloud, Miss Grimm is not at all pleased. She looks down her long, sharp nose at all that her new neighbor does, from planting a garden to his morning and evening rituals: “Every morning Mr. Happy greeted the sun, / every evening the moon and the stars.” In the latter illustration, Mr. Happy climbs a ladder extending from a rooftop hatch with a match to light the moon’s lantern; Miss Grimm pokes out a similar roof hatch swatting the moon with her broom. Though Mr. Happy’s attempt to greet Miss Grimm ends with a door slammed in his face, the black-clad, melancholy woman does come around eventually, the cheerful garden next door bringing about an amazing transformation (in more ways than one) that seems to happen all too quickly for a satisfactory ending. Strasser’s mixed-media, monoprint, crayon, and digital collage illustrations mix muted jewel tones with interesting textures, and the dichotomy between the two houses is visually effective. While Schneider seems to be going for a power-of-nature-to-change-lives sort of message, children may miss it altogether.
Stick with the old standby: Roger Hargreaves’ Mr. Happy (1980). (Picture book. 4-7)