cover image My Happy Life

My Happy Life

Rose Lagercrantz, trans. from the Swedish by Julia Marshall, illus. by Eva Eriksson. Gecko Press USA (Lerner, dist.), $16.95 (136p) ISBN 978-1-8775-7935-6

To understand the true meaning and value of resilience, look no further than the 20 brief chapters of this early reader, created by two longtime Swedish collaborators and beautifully translated into spare, lyrical prose. Even at a young age, Dani has seen more than her share of heartache: the best friend she meets in chapter four moves away by chapter eight (“[Dani] wished she could move, too. But she had to stay behind”), a departure that prompts the sad revelation that Dani’s mother died sometime earlier. “They said she had passed away,” writes Lagercrantz, “but how could a dead person pass anything? And away to where?” But as Eriksson’s emotionally astute and often endearingly funny pencil drawings show, Dani does indeed have much to be happy about. She has a loving father and extended family, an unflappable teacher whose lesson plans form a wry running joke (“They had a fruit week and a vegetable week. They learned all about fruit and vegetables”), and—above all—an openness to reflection and new possibilities, big and small. Ages 6–up. (Mar.)