A little white mouse endeavors to make a mercurial brown bear feel happy.
Said mouse encourages readers to do something silly, sing a song, or blow bubbles to lighten the mood. A turn of the page slides vertical panels into place to change the expression on Happy Bear’s round face, visible through a circular die-cut hole, from worried or angry back to his open-mouthed grin. When the bear starts crying, the mouse wonders who can make him happy again, and, on the final page, readers see that it is the soothing presence of his mommy, who greets him with a hug. Ballesteros’ illustrations employ pleasant graphics with rounded edges and flat planes of color in muted tones, keeping the focus at all times on the main event. Publishing in October 2018, a companion book called Wake Up Santa! is also written by Thoms but is illustrated by Pintachan, who uses similarly sanguine imagery with a retro feel that harkens back to a 1950s graphic sensibility. This holiday title uses the same face-changing mechanism to show a white Santa Claus and entourage waking up to prepare for the annual Christmas Eve toy delivery. (Three elves appear to be white; one has brown skin and black hair.) While the face-changing gimmick will undoubtedly delight, it is probably best suited to the upper-end of the board-book age range, as the pages are cardstock and thinner than what is typically found in this format.
Cheerful fun for careful tots. (Board book. 2-4)