Written and Illustrated by Amy Schwartz
Abrams Appleseed, 2014
The plot in a nutshell: Yeah, it’s just a list of things that make the author happy
In rhyming couplets, this list of 100 smile-inducing things includes some things that are pretty universally loved, such as comfy chairs and starry nights, as well as others that may be more individual in their appeal, such as polka dots, submarines and anything pink. The book runs through the list, with illustrations of each item listed and concludes with ‘time with you.’
It’s hard to get more likeable and positive than this list from author/illustrator Amy Schwartz. Shortly before picking up this book, I read an article explaining some of the psychology behind why so many people enjoy talking about things they dislike more than they enjoy talking about the things that make them happy. It was fascinating, but also kind of depressing, so when I saw this book on the shelf, I made a beeline for it. I’m happy to say that it was the spirit lifter I wanted, giving me some encouragement to take a step back and think about all of the things that make me happy, too.
The artwork is, as it should be, in bright colors and filled with a diverse group of people enjoying all the things listed. Some of the pictures show a different interpretation of the item than you would imagine just hearing the word(s), such as ‘submarines’ which show boys playing in a bathtub with yellow submarines (which makes me think that perhaps the Beatles are something else that makes Ms. Schwartz happy). If I was reading this to a young child, I’d reserve a chunk of time afterwards for coming up with lists of our own and then make sure I was incorporating enough of those things in my everyday life. The world gives us plenty of things to be unhappy about so it’s up to us to stay balanced by giving equal time to happy things.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that there are so many things in the world to be happy about and it’s worth taking the time to notice and appreciate them.