A young child learns to reach for happiness.
The young narrator, a black child with cornrows and afro puffs, thinks of many acquisitions and happenings that would bring happiness. The glum kid will be happy after getting “a puppy, / a unicorn, / an ice-cream sundae.” Or when “everyone adores me.” But each time, the narrator adds, “Or, I can be happy right now.” As the difficulties standing in the way of happiness grow harder to bear—sickness, sadness, and sorrows—the narrator more actively counteracts them. The kid can “snuggle down for a sleepy snooze” or “breathe right now / … / Feel my body relax… // …Know that happy will find me again soon.” The final spread shows the child balancing on a branch, reaching toward a cat, knowing that “I’ll be happy when / I’m hopeful, / cheerful, / helpful, / thankful. / Reaching for happy / until I can grab it.” While most children (and adults) can relate to negative thought patterns, this book may be most helpful for those who experience mild forms of anxiety and depression, the text incorporating cognitive, physiological, and action-based tools to improve mood and combat negativity. The illustrations convey only two emotions—sad and happy—and an embodied “worry monkey” (whose fur is unfortunately reminiscent of the narrator’s afro puffs) scampers about on two spreads.
Despite its visual flaws, this book will help a small, deserving readership. (Picture book. 4-8)