My Happy Life by Rose Lagercrantz, illustrated by Eva Eriksson, translated by Julia Marshall is a great early chapter book about friendship, school and holding on to the good things in life, despite its ups and downs.
Dani is probably the happiest person she knows. When she can’t sleep at night instead of counting sheep, she counts all the times she’s been happy. But now she’s starting a new school and she’s understandably a little bit nervous.
This book is perfect for newly fluent readers (say 5-8 years old probably) for so many reasons. It looks great; a real book, which feels substantial and lovely in your hands and doesn’t look babyish. Nearly every page is illustrated with Eriksson’s line drawings which ooze with warmth, and chapters are short and therefore both achievable and encouraging (“why try just a few more pages if I can get through a chapter this easily?”). Form is one thing, but the content is also spot on, addressing issues around friendship, school and family life that will feature in many of the book’s readers’ own lives.
Whilst wonderful observations make this book oh-so-believable (in our family we particularly liked the observation about kids collecting the stickers from apples and bananas and hiding them in a special place) this book is also full of little surprises: Dani’s life may be generally very happy, but we learn that her mother died when she was young. Dani is just like you or me or any small child starting school, but she comes from a multi-cultural family, with relatives overseas. As a parent I really valued this mix of ordinariness with reminders of the different sorts of lives we all live, and the different sorts of families that can be full of happiness, warmth and stability.
If you’re looking for a book about the ups and downs of friendship which is positive, reassuring, and recognisable, My Happy Life comes highly recommended.
Inspired by My Happy Life, we made our own angel bookmarks; Dani’s best friend Ella has a very precious angel bookmark which, after some trials and tribulations, she eventually gives to Dani.
We folded strips of gold card in half and glued a magnet on one (inside) side, and a penny on the other. Then we drew angels on the card with permanent markers.
The magnets help the bookmarks stay in place in the book.
We ended up making one for all of the books we’ve got on the go at the moment!
Bookmarks are always fun to make and we never seem to have enough. Here are some great pinterest boards about bookmarks if you’re looking for inspiration.
Whilst we made our bookmarks we listened to:
Other activities which would go well with reading My Happy Life include:
What early readers / easy chapter books have you read recently and enjoyed?
Disclosure: I received a free copy of My Happy Life from Gecko Press. I was under no obligation to review the book and I received no money for this post.