Today’s book review is for My Happy Life, written by Rose Lagercrantz, illustrated by Eva Eriksson, published by Gecko Press. I received an electronic copy of this book from the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
Dani is starting her first year of school. She is one of the happiest people she knows. Lots of things make her happy. But what makes her happiest is when she makes a best friend, Ella. Ella and Dani do everything together. Then, one day, they find out that Ella is moving away. And Dani doesn’t feel so happy anymore. Slowly, though, things start to happen to bring a little happiness back into her life. My Happy Life is a great early chapter book about friendship, loss, and carrying on with life.
This book was originally published in Swedish, so the English version is a translation. Since I can’t read Swedish and have never seen the Swedish edition of the book, I can’t speak as to how faithful the translation is to the original. But I can say that I enjoyed the writing and the story as it was told. As an easy reader/early chapter book, the language in the text is fairly simple in style. There are words in there that may challenge young readers, but should ultimately be familiar. That’s not to say that the ideas explored are simple. Quite to the contrary–Dani not only confronts the pain of a friend moving away, she also reflects on the death of her mother. She’s able to relate the two experiences, while at the same time recognizing their differences. It struck me, because, although as adults we sometimes forget, children really can be quite sophisticated thinkers.
The black and white illustrations are full of personality. The depictions of Dani and Ella’s interactions capture so much emotion. They brought to mind my own childhood friendships and all of the joy that we found in the simplest of things. Most of all, though, I love the illustrations of the class–when all the kids are together. There is so much activity in these images. There’s also a great sense of humor. The style is perfect for children who are transitioning from picture books to chapter books.
My Happy Life is the sort of book that a child could read on their own, or that a parent could read to their child over several nights. It’s got so many positive messages. The best one being that it encourages kids to count the times they’ve been happy. I’m giving this charming book 4 stars. Parents and children alike will be able to connect with the story.
You can find more information about this book, including other reviews, at Goodreads.