100 Things That Make Me Happy

Amy Schwartz, Author
Amy Schwartz. Abrams Appleseed, $16.95 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4197-0518-2
Reviewed on: 08/11/2014
Release date: 10/01/2014
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Move over, BuzzFeed, Schwartz (Dee Dee and Me) has come up with the ultimate list—and it rhymes: “Red bow/ Tic-tac-toe/ Hula-hoops/ double scoops.” It seems pretty effortless, especially given that most of the sources of happiness catalogued are pretty down to earth. But in fact, Schwartz employs some skillful anti-soppy strategies to ensure her book stays bright, breezy, and buoyant. Hairpin category turns—putting “Something sweet” (a trio of cupcakes) adjacent to “a parakeet”—create a sense of playful spontaneity. The tightly rendered illustrations, which usually appear in twos or three against white backgrounds, have a refreshing emotional reticence; the kids’ happiness is shown as matter-of-fact and grounded rather than euphoric or manic. And then there are the descriptions themselves, eloquent in their unfussiness: it’s enough to say “Grandma’s lap” (the rhyme is completed with “a gingersnap”) and show an image of a child snuggled up and reading with this beloved adult—the author knows her audience can fill in the rest. Schwartz isn’t the first to try a compendium of this sort, but she sets a new benchmark. Ages 3–6. (Oct.)
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