cover image Taking a Bath with the Dog and Other Things That Make Me Happy

Taking a Bath with the Dog and Other Things That Make Me Happy

Scott Menchin, . . Candlewick, $15.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-2919-9

Feeling blue, and stumped as to what might cheer her up, a girl (called “Sweet Pea” by her mother) poses the question “What makes you happy?” to a fanciful array of characters. In his authorial debut, illustrator Menchin (Bounce ) cheerily portrays the youngster and respondents in ink and watercolor spreads against pastel backdrops. Sweet Pea’s own dog, dressed in a shower cap and carrying a rubber ducky, replies “Taking a bath!,” while a rabbit likes to run on a hamster wheel (who knew?) and a woman with a nest of squiggly red hair indulges in adorning it with myriad bows and clips. A droll sense of humor is evident as well: an elderly man perches next to a tree stump, stating that he enjoys “counting,” while a dapper gentleman on a park bench demonstrates his love of “stripes” with a comically clashing outfit—and a striped tabby on a leash. Sweet Pea (who herself begins to smile about halfway through her informal survey) gradually realizes that many things make her happy and, in a rebus-like spread, she catalogues more than 20 things that do just that, including “bake cookies with faces,” “stick finger puppets on my toes,” “slurp spaghetti” and “swim at night.” This will likely inspire youngsters who are in a funk to seek joy in the unexpected as well as in the perfectly ordinary. Ages 4-8. (July)