Happy

Mies van Hout. Lemniscaat USA, $17.95 (44p) ISBN 978-1-9359-5414-9
Van Hout’s (The Child Cruncher) catalogue of emotions is dead simple: an emotion word (“shy,” “surprised,” “proud”) appears on one page, and a drawing of a fish expressing that emotion is shown on the other. But what fish! Scrawled like children’s doodles or cartoons in sizzling lines of scarlet, orange, aqua, and fuchsia, each one swims alone in an ink-black sea, reacting to experiences readers can only guess at. The emotion words, one per spread, are handwritten with childlike care over pages scribbled with color, and are just as suggestive of each emotion as the fish are. “Curious,” a canary-colored fish, glides goggle-eyed toward something off-page. On the opposing page, the letters that spell “curious” are all different colors, like a cheerful ransom note. The “Nervous” fish is long, thin, and miserable-looking, outlined in pale, tremulous lines. “Bored” is a flounder, almost cross-eyed with ennui. There’s no particular story arc, or even a story to be found within each drawing—it’s a delightful amuse-bouche of a book, and an aquatic introduction to everyday emotions. Ages 2–up. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/27/2012
Release date: 04/01/2012
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