________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 18. . . .May 1, 2009


My Happy Book.

Kathy Knowles.
Winnipeg, MB: OSU Children's Library Fund (188 Montrose St., Winnipeg, MB R3M 3M7), 2009.
24 pp., hardcover, $13.00.
ISBN 978-0-9809437-6-4.

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 4-7.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

**** /4



Hello! My name is Peace.
My mother says I am a happy girl.

I am happy when
I take my bath.

I am happy when
I go to school.


In My Happy Book, a seven-year-old girl, shares 21 everyday situations in which she finds happiness and which bring a smile to her face While this book was written for an audience of young children in Ghana, its contents are still most usable in, and relevant to, North America. The text's simple structure, "I am happy when...." is certainly an invitation to children everywhere to create their own "happy books."

internal art     Each page's two line, one sentence text is accompanied by a full-colour photograph, and these photos will encourage young readers to compare/contrast their lives with that of Peace. For instance, just hearing the sentence, "I am happy when I take my bath" may evoke a certain image in a Canadian child's mind, that of a large white bathtub filled with water and perhaps topped by bubbles. However, Peace's bath takes. place outdoors in a large basin, where a pail, not a water faucet, is the water's source. And what does a Canadian child "see" when s/he hears the sentence, "I am happy when I cook with my sister"? Firstly, would most seven-year-old Canadian children even be even found in the family kitchen? Again, Peace's activity occurs outside, and the "stove" she and her sister are using is a small charcoal fueled open stove. In short, the photos provide numerous excellent opportunities for child and parent discussions.

     And, though the photographs do reveal many differences in the details between the lives of Ghanaian and Canadian children, the photos also show areas of commonality, such as the simple joy to be found in catching a ball, singing and dancing, playing in the sand, running on a beach or reading a book.

      A good read-to book for preschoolers, My Happy Book has both language arts and social studies tie-ins for kindergarten and grade 1-2 students.

Highly Recommended.

Dave Jenkinson, CM's editor, lives in Winnipeg, MB, and recalls having baths in a washtub when he was a child and lived in pre-electricity rural Manitoba.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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