cover image Hundred Years of Happiness

Hundred Years of Happiness

Thanhhà La∙i, illus. by Nguyên Quang and Kim Liên. HarperCollins, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-06-302692-6

When An’s Vietnamese grandmother starts to lose her memory, and sometimes doesn’t recognize her grandchild, La∙i centers the family’s efforts to rekindle Bà’s memories in this moving story. To do so, they gather gâ´c fruit—the key ingredient in xôi gâ´c, a sticky rice dish that was served at Bà’s wedding to Ông, where their relatives wished them “hundred years of happiness.” Accompanied by Quang and Liên’s luminous digital scenes, the gentle lines interweave descriptions of Ông and Bà’s life in Vietnam with tender moments of the family navigating Bà’s apparent dementia. When the xôi gâ´c temporarily has the desired effect on Bà’s memories, La∙i expressively relies on metaphor to communicate the family’s joy: “An feels as if a firecracker might flare out her mouth and explode.” Balancing sorrow and hope, the gentle storytelling on display in this book results in a truly sweet conclusion. An author’s note and xôi gâ´c recipe concludes. Ages 4–8. (Apr.)