cover image In Search of Happiness

In Search of Happiness

Juliette Saumande, , trans. from the French by Andrew Weller, illus. by Eric Puybaret. . Langenscheidt/Hammond, $14.99 (34pp) ISBN 978-0-8416-7141-6

Alexander's curiosity leads him from Prudence, where life is orderly and uneventful, to countries he's never dreamt of—such as the Gorge of Spoiled Ones, where children order whatever gifts they like, and the Valley of the Delighted, where he receives “so many compliments that his cheeks turned bright red.” But he misses his upright, prudent Grandpa, and Paradiso, the magical bird whose invitation spurred the journey, won't tell Alexander if they've reached the Land of Happiness yet. Large-format pages allow Puybaret (Puff, the Magic Dragon ) plenty of scope, and his evocations of each new country have a Cirque du Soleil feel: children in elflike garb play in the Glacier of the Frozen Ones; eerie, palm-studded vistas of mist and mountains stretch to the horizon. When Alexander finds himself at home again and leaves a note on Grandpa's doorstep (“the greatest happiness is here with you”), his declaration of love transforms Grandpa from a stiff old man into a bright-eyed adventurer. Saumande, in this sensitive debut, shows that it is in the search, and not the destination, that happiness lies. Ages 4–7. (Jan.)