Pass it On – a book to spread joy

posted in: Sophy Henn | 8

cover.jpg.rendition.460.707Pass it On by Sophy Henn (@sophyhenn) will bring a brilliant burst of happiness to your bookshelves. A simple set of friendly reminders about how easy it is and how wonderful it feels to ‘pay it forward’ when something nice happens to you, Henn’s latest offering is pure unadulterated joy disguised as a stunning picture book.

The book’s enthusiasm and generosity of spirit are infectious. Its rainbow palette puts a spring in your step and a smile on your face. Yes, if you’re in need of a mood boost, share this book!

Some will enjoy this book simply as an upbeat encouragement and reminder that happiness needn’t be complicated. But this book also offers opportunities for talking about behaviour, kindness and unselfishness and its figurative language , expressing happiness in so many different ways, makes it a picture book you could delight in using with slightly older children to look at synonyms and creative writing.

Delightfully upbeat, this book makes the world a better place, spreading warmth and optimism all around. Buy two copies – one for yourself, and the second one? Pass it on!

Pass it On spread 1_1000px

Pass it On spread1000px

Pass it On spread 2_1000px

Inspired by Sophy Henn’s vibrant illustrations of balloons we decided to try a new (to us) painting technique to explore how to achieve an appearance of “transparency”.

First the kids used a cardboard tube to trace overlapping circles onto a piece of watercolour paper.

Then they painted in a selection of non-overlapping circles before – and this is the crucial bit – stopping painting and going next door to play with a load of balloons.

Once the first circles were completely dry, the kids painted their next selection of circles in different colours. Again we stopped for balloon play, to give the paint time to dry before filling in the final rounds of colour.


Leaving the paint to dry is essential in order to create crisp lines and a new shade of paint when the overlapping areas are painted, so make sure you have a second activity set up to keep people happy whilst the paint dries (this only takes 10 or 15 minutes each time, but if you don’t leave it, the paint mixes, runs and doesn’t give the ‘transparent’ look we were after).


Once all the circles were dry the kids drew balloon strings on in pencil, to present a bunch in bouquet style as a gift to friends. These balloon bunches would make gorgeous illustrations on home made thank-you cards, don’t you think?

Adding in the magic ingredient of “time” to our painting experience made all the difference, and one we hadn’t previously considered. Now I’m thinking how else we can play with paint and time to create different effects… If you’ve any suggestions, do let us know!

Whilst making creating our balloon art we listened to these happy songs:

  • One Love by Bob Marley
  • Wonderful World Beautiful People by Jimmy Cliff
  • Try A Little Kindness by Glen Campbell
  • Pay It Forward by Brian Asselin

  • Other activities which might work well alongside reading Pass it On include:

  • Choosing your favourite ideas from these two great books, both by Bernadette Russell, packed with ideas for bringing smiles to the faces around you:
  • Reading Because Amelia Smiled by David Ezra Stein, a delightful picture book about how happiness spreads around the world as a result of just one child smiling at her neighbour.
  • Investigating how many balloons it takes to lift your favourite toy. This is one of my all time favourite Playing by the book activities.

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    Disclosure: I was sent a free review copy of this book by the publisher.

    8 Responses

    1. gisele

      How wonderful! Can´t wait for it to be trasnlated do Portuguese!
      Loved your balloon paintings! Very beautiful!
      Gisele and kids

    2. Ann Scott

      What a positive, uplifting message. Love the painting activity. I will definitely try this with my children.

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