The Happy Book (and other feelings) by Andy Rash
The Happy Book (and other feelings)
by Andy Rash
Purchased with grant funding for my library
Brilliant! Brilliant! Brilliant! Excited and enthusiastic is how I feel after reading Rash's The Happy Book. Rash has taken the abstract concepts of four feelings (happy, sad, angry, scared) and woven them into a color coded story. The Happy Book is entertaining and accessible, encouraging readers to get to know their feelings and express them honestly (and verbally) while also showing readers how feelings can coexist and be connected as well as non-permanent.
Camper and Clam (as in "happy as a") are friends who enjoy being happy together. Clam even bakes a friendship cake, which Camper thoughtlessly devours whole, setting off a chain of events and an exploration of feelings. Rash uses graphic novel style panels and word bubbles, as well as the brilliant device of slightly changing endpapers that appear throughout the story. As Camper, full of friendship cake, rides off not knowing how he has hurt Clam, he comes to the endpapers, exclaiming, "Whee! Hey, is that the end of the book? That seemed short." There is a door, slightly ajar, in the bright yellow endpapers, showing a glimpse into a blue world. Camper opens the door and finds himself in The Sad Book where Clam is hanging out with a new friend, Trombone (who says, "Bwah-bwah.") Clam is not ready to return to The Happy Book and Camper, frustrated, cannot understand why "anyone would want to stay in this place?" Saw in hand, he stomps off to a new, blue endpaper (same diamond pattern, but this time images of droopy flowers, dropped ice cream cones and broken hearts take the place of birds, butterflies and flowers) and cuts his way into a red room...
Wet Hen lives in The Angry Book and Cat lives in The Scared Book that follows. There, Clam and Camper admit that they are scared their friendship is over and that they will never be happy or have fun anymore. Each step of the way, Camper and Clam verbalize their feelings in a way that is not heavy handed or blatantly in service of the story. And, in the end, this allows them to connect again, opening a new door to The Feelings Book where the quartet experience all the feels together. Rash ends his book with Camper and a new cake, a four layer, four color cake. The penultimate spread shows the new friends tucking into the cake, each one saying something that fits their feelings. The final two-page spread shows the friends on a bicycle made for four (Clam is in the basket) riding through a beautiful world made up of all (four) colors. The final endpapers are also made up of all four feelings colors and the icons that go with them, along with a hilariously perfect author image on the flap.