Friday 16 March 2012

THE HAPPY BOOK, by Malachy Doyle, illustrated by Caroline Uff, reviewed by Pippa Goodhart

This is a beautifully simple book. It simply states the things that we should do less, and the things that we should do more. For example,

'Squabble less. Share more!
Snivel less. Snuggle more!
Grumble less. Giggle more!'

Each negative and positive are illustrated on facing pages, and we see in Caroline Uff's gentle and humorous illustrations what the effects of those actions are on a group of small children.

I love the alliterative enjoyment of language that makes this book a joy to read out loud. I suspect that only Malachy Doyle could make a list of instructions read as poetry without adding a single fuss or literary frill!

I imagine that maybe other publishers turned this book down before Bloomsbury recognised it's potential. They'll have said, 'But it hasn't got a story' ... totally missing the fact that there are a range of unspoken short stories in each before-and-after pairing of pictures. Even the smallest child will 'read' those pictures, and they will understand exactly what is going on because the situations and emotions evoked are all ones which they will recognise from their own lives.

Thought-provoking, funny and kind; this is a book that I wish I'd written!



Ann Turnbull said...

Oh, this sounds lovely! And I have a couple of small relatives with birthdays coming up...

malachy doyle said...

Most kind, Pippa. And you're right - Bloomsbury weren't exactly the first to see the text, but they were the first to see its potential. I'd come up with the idea, and hopefully the best means of expressing it, but it was all down to the illustrator, really, to make it into a book that children (and parents) would enjoy.

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