Thursday, November 24, 2016


Bob Shea's newest picture book, The Happiest Book Ever! gives other books about feelings a run for their money. Instead of focusing on just plain happiness or sadness or anger, with no allowance for anything in between, this very meta book subversively examines the complex ways emotions can be expressed and shows that it's okay not to feel happy all the time. 

Right away, this book introduces us to some of its so-called happiest friends, an inexpressive frog and a dancing cake. The dancing cake is rendered in simply-drawn, brightly-colored caricatures, like the rest of the over-the-top happy cast (cheerful clouds, contented kittens, and a whimsical whale, to name just a few), that is, except for "grumpy" frog, the only photo-realistic image in the entire story and the unwitting monkey wrench in the book's goal of total happiness domination. 

Will the happiest book ever wear down frog with its incessant outward displays of the only socially-acceptable emotion allowed within its pages, and make frog turn his "unhappy" deadpan expression upside down--or else? This thoughtfully engaging yet ultimately entertaining meditation on expressing one's feelings and giving others the space to express theirs makes a fun read-aloud, as well as a compelling book to share one-on-one. 

Recommended for preschoolers to 2nd graders. 

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