The Happiness of a Dog with a Ball in Its Mouth

Bruce Handy, illus. by Hyewon Yum. Enchanted Lion, $18.95 (56p) ISBN 978-1-59270-351-7
With this loose collection of turnabouts, Handy (Wild Things, for adults) and Yum (Lion Needs a Haircut) meditate on the way moments of disgrace, loss, and worry can resolve into something better. At book’s start, a brown-skinned child side-eyes the sun while waking: “The slowness of two eyes opening.” A page turn reveals the same child out of bed, greeted by two eager pups: “The happiness of a new day.” On a verso page, a child sits on the ground, knees scraped and bloody: “The indignity of a cut.” On the facing recto, admiring friends gather around: “The happiness of a scab.” Feet are poised on a diving board (“The fear of leaping”); an instant later, the diving child is seen suspended in midair (“The happiness of having leapt”). Gently tinted spreads by Yum carry emotion and straightforward beauty, as in a portrait of a bird resting (“The stillness of a perch”), then taking wing (“The happiness of flight”). This work takes a place on the shelf of A Hole Is to Dig–style miscellanies as the collaborators trace how adverse experiences might be openings to learning and joy. Ages 5–8. Author’s agent: Jennifer Joel, ICM Partners. Illustrator’s agent: Sean McCarthy, Sean McCarthy Literary. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 01/28/2021
Release date: 03/30/2021
Genre: Children's
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