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GET HAPPY by Malachy Doyle


by Malachy Doyle & illustrated by Caroline Uff

Age Range: 3 - 6

Pub Date: June 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-8027-2271-3
Publisher: Walker

A too-simple guide to walking on the bright side of the road.

Doyle's intentions are honorable, and his clear opposites are aspirational. “Squabble less. Share more!... / Grumble less. Giggle more! / Zone out less. Zoom around more!” A few of the admonitions are problematical. How, for instance, is a child supposed to warmly snuggle rather than sniffle when tangles are being combed from her hair? Why, for goodness sake, shouldn’t a kid feel a sense of worry (which, anyway, can deliver a disarming frisson) when thunder and lightning cracks and flashes through the night sky, instead of a sense of wonder? But for the most part, Doyle points kids away from selfish or rude or indulgent behavior, away from the evil twin and toward the happier one: “Pick less. Plant more! / Grab less. Give more!… / Sulk less. Sparkle more!” (Or at least try to.) Uff’s artwork displays Helen Oxenbury–esque warmth if little of the master’s subtlety. The unworthy behavior is depicted in an elemental, diminished state on the left page, while the good acts are fulsomely painted on the right.

Too didactic by half, with little cleverness to amuse while it instructs. (Picture book. 3-6)