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Happiness Is...

Marcus Pfister. North-South (Ingram, dist.), $17.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7358-4179-6

Zoe and Leo, a pair of "best mouse-friend[s]," dream up metaphors to try to encapsulate the feeling of happiness. Pfister again uses the crinkly textured illustration style seen in recent books like The Yellow Cab and Ava's Poppy as the two mice turn to nature for inspiration. "Happiness is feeling a snowflake melt on your tongue in the winter," Zoe offers, as Pfister pictures her wearing a striped scarf over her summery yellow jumper. After a few more examples from Zoe, Leo catches on: "Hmm, I get it.... Happiness is discovering a little piece of cheese in your trouser pocket." There's no plot to speak of—the two mice simply unfurl additional examples and head on their way, flying kites through a turquoise meadow. Images of the duo blowing dandelion seeds into the wind, stomping in spring puddles, and "shuffling through a thick carpet of autumn leaves" are clear and evocative, and the book may shine most as a prompt for spurring similar creative exercises at home or at school. Ages 4–8. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 07/18/2014 | Details & Permalink

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The Goodnight Book

Lori Joy Smith. Simply Read (Ingram, dist.), $12.95 (24p) ISBN 978-1-927018-42-2

What begins as an ostensible guide to saying goodnight in multiple languages ("In French, they say Bonne Nuit") quickly turns gently surreal. After a sequence of three softly painted portraits of human parents (and a pet cat) bidding goodnight to human children, Smith (Noisy Poems for a Busy Day) introduces an array of benevolent, cuddly creatures not likely to be found in Wikipedia, who say goodnight in ways that Google Translate won't recognize. "In some far off places they say... Kissy Kissy," writes Smith as a brown, furry ovoid nestles its tan offspring in a pouch, while three additional little ones sleep in snowy burrows beside them. A pink bearlike creature wraps eight contented children in its arms while wishing them "Fleep Dreams," and what appear to be three sentient hills say "Moony Night" as a yellow orb floats overhead. Smith's creations have the simplified facial expressions of manga characters and emoticons, with U-shaped closed eyes that signal supreme contentment on the part of every fuzzy worm, four-legged octopi, and snow creature. Ages 2–5. (July)

Reviewed on 07/18/2014 | Details & Permalink

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