The Happiest Kid (Sarah Bagley Steele)

Hello, friends! Our book today is The Happiest Kid, written by Sarah Bagley Steele and illustrated by Elsa Pui Si Lo and Clarice Yunyi Cai, a compelling story about expressing our feelings.

Little Sally is well-known by friends and family for being the happiest kid in the world. Each day, she greets the sun with a smile and a “hello!”, then proceeds to carry that sunshine through the day, bringing happiness to everyone around her. Until something changes. After a day of disappointments, she wakes up the next morning to find that, in the place of her sun, there is a small gray cloud. Sally doesn’t like the appearance of this cloud, and does everything to hide it from her parents and schoolmates. Yet no matter what she does to suppress or ignore the cloud, it only grows larger. How can Sally be rid of her cloud once and for all?

Moving. While many kids’ books focus on the fact that negative emotions are normal, this one takes this idea a step further, exploring the idea that children (and adults) often feel compelled to mask sadness in order to protect the feelings of others. Sally’s efforts to conceal her sadness to avoid “disappointing” her parents or teacher is an impulse that many readers will recognize, and Steele’s gentle resolution – one that not only emphasizes the normality of sadness but also the importance of sharing it with those we trust – is simply beautiful. The hand-drawn illustrations are equally impactful, especially the standout page in which Sally finally acknowledges her cloud; they do, however, feature a notable lack of diversity, with only a single representation of a non-white character. The length is great for a storytime, and JJ really liked this one – we had a very nice discussion about feelings and masking afterwards, one that I imagine this story could help inspire for others caretakers and educators to have with their kids. Overall, a well-done story about a tricky topic, and we recommend it. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

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