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Formats
Paperback Details
  • 03/2021
  • 978-1-64962-300-3 1649623003
  • 32 pages
  • $13.99
Hardcover Details
  • 03/2021
  • 978-1-64962-100-9 1649621000
  • 32 pages
  • $23.99
Victor Santos
Author
The Boy Who Illustrated Happiness

"THIS BOOK SHOULD BE ON ALL HOME AND PUBLIC LIBRARIES." -- Reedy Discovery

How could the world be a better place if each of us used our unique talents to make others happy?

Ben loves to draw. Drawing makes him happy, and he uses his drawing talent to also make others around him happy. One day, he has an idea: what if he started a Happiness Club? To become a member of the club, all a child has to do is use their own unique talents to make another member of the club happy. In this uplifting, diverse, and beautifully illustrated book, children will learn how the exponential power of love, respect, and friendship can be harnessed to make the world a happier place for all.

Reviews
Alive with heartwarming moments and a cheery blend of colors, Santos’s coming-of-age picture book features a budding artist keen on spreading happiness to others. Young Ben expresses his emotions, good and bad, through his art. He continually finds creative opportunities in everyday life, such as designing his breakfast plate with ketchup, squirting toothpaste on the bathroom mirror, and drawing on the foggy bus window. To share this joy with others, he creates the Happiness Club, a group whose members dedicate their time to making each other happy. Surpassing language barriers, the members communicate through drawings, origami, songs, and hand gestures. Ben and his friends soon realize that happiness is a powerful language that everyone understands.

While Ben's age remains vague—seemingly by design—Santos lends him ample agency and a big heart powered by the question “What can YOU do today to make someone happy?” Santos's writing is motivated by themes of compassion and unity, though verbosity and a leisurely pace diminish the impact of the narrative, and story developments concerning a pet and Ben’s eventual trajectory in adult life shift the focus from the inspired idea of the Happiness Club. The text tends to reiterate, in a font that doesn’t complement Eszter Miklós kaleidoscopic artwork, story beats and deeper meanings that the illustrations already convey or suggest.

Santos's portrayal of Ben's relationship with his parents and his pet fish, Jerry, is a laudable highlight that emphasizes the rewards of the kind of happy childhood that Ben is so eager to share. Readers will appreciate the attention to detail—such as the framed Caldecott honor alongside Jerry’s picture on Ben’s bookshelf—and the vibrant hues that characterize his blooming talent and enthusiasm for life. Meanwhile, Miklós's vivid illustrations and pleasing compositions effectively capture Ben's quest with nuance and effervescence. Overall, this delightful treat boasts an inspiring protagonist, diverse characters, and colorful settings.

Takeaway: A charming tale of a wunderkind that underscores the merits of love, respect, and acceptance.

Great for fans of: Kay A. Haring’s Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing, Joanne Liu’s My Museum, and Jeanette Winter’s Henri’s Scissors.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: B+
Illustrations: A
Editing: B-
Marketing copy: A-

Midwest Book Review

"The Boy Who Illustrated Happiness has a lovely message to kids about creative positivity and helps young people understand how they can use their personal talents to change the world. Lovely illustrations add pizzaz and interest to a story which holds a powerful message for young readers."

Prairies Book Review

“Reflective and captivating from the get-go. This is a WOW book, just right for parents and children to share.” 

Reedsy Discovery

"This book should be on all home and public libraries.The Boy Who Illustrated Happiness is a brilliant concept and written incredibly well. It is an excellent lesson for children (and adults) to learn."

Thrity Umrigar (author of "Sugar in Milk") - blurb

“A warm and wonderful book about the most important thing of all – happiness.” 

Formats
Paperback Details
  • 03/2021
  • 978-1-64962-300-3 1649623003
  • 32 pages
  • $13.99
Hardcover Details
  • 03/2021
  • 978-1-64962-100-9 1649621000
  • 32 pages
  • $23.99

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