cover image Happy!


Pharrell Williams. Putnam, $19.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-399-17643-2

Williams's hit song, a radio fixture since its 2013 release on the soundtrack to the film Despicable Me 2, is recast as a picture book, its earwormy lyrics paired with photos of a multicultural crew of children staged with costumes, cardboard props, chalk drawings, and digital embellishments. The staged scenes can be extremely literal: the line "I'm a hot air balloon that could go to space" is set against a violet-black backdrop dotted with chalk-drawn planets and stars (one girl floats past in a paper hot-air balloon, while another wears sneakers, a silver gown, and an astronaut's helmet as she rockets through space under her own power). Later, there is indeed a "room without a roof" and a child dressed as a judge, since "happiness is the truth." Even so, the expressive outfits and giant smiles the children wear are beyond infectious, and the homespun nature of the props and setups (a group of rockers plays on cardboard instruments, not Fender guitars) make the book feel like a celebration of kids being kids. Ages 3%E2%80%937. Agent: Mel Berger, William Morris Endeavor. (Oct.)