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4.3 17
by Stephen Emond

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Just put on a happy face!

Enter Happyface's journal and get a peek into the life of a shy, artistic boy who decides to reinvent himself as a happy-go-lucky guy after he moves to a new town. See the world through his hilariously self-deprecating eyes as he learns to shed his comic-book-loving, computer-game playing ways. Join him as he makes new


Just put on a happy face!

Enter Happyface's journal and get a peek into the life of a shy, artistic boy who decides to reinvent himself as a happy-go-lucky guy after he moves to a new town. See the world through his hilariously self-deprecating eyes as he learns to shed his comic-book-loving, computer-game playing ways. Join him as he makes new friends, tries to hide from his past, and ultimately learns to face the world with a genuine smile. With a fresh and funny combination of text and fully integrated art, Happyface is an original storytelling experience.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Comic artist Emond (Emo Boy) pens an endearing and self-deprecatingly witty debut novel à la illustrated diary that manifests the insecurities, longings, and trials of a recognizable brand of teenage male. The narrator—an introverted, artistically talented sophomore—is trying an “everything goes” personality at his new school (he gets the nickname Happyface). The facade works. He makes a group of eclectic friends, including a possible love interest, but Happyface has skeletons in his closet: his parents’ collapsed relationship, how his former crush broke his heart, and the reason he switched schools—a gruesome secret readers don’t learn about until Happyface is emotionally able to write about it. Throughout, Happyface shares his grievances and hopes, but also feelings too scary to write about (illustrations come easier). By the time his sketchbook’s full, readers will have a palpable sense of how much he’s grown and how painful—but worthwhile—the process was. The illustrations range from comics to more fleshed-out drawings. Just like Happyface’s writing, they can be whimsical, thoughtful, boyishly sarcastic, off-the-cuff, or achingly beautiful. The best exhibit hints of all of the above. Ages 12–up. (Mar.)
Kirkus Reviews
Moving easily between cartoons and painterly black-and-white illustration, this epistolary novel of a young teen's reinvention of self is subtle and effective. As he's stuck in his brother's shadow and in the middle of his alcoholic parents' unhappy relationship, it's little surprise that when the breakup of his family necessitates a move to a new school, the protagonist decides to become "Happyface." Embracing lighthearted goofiness, he hopes to banish his former self-an artistic loner. At first, this seems to work: He finds friends and dates a girl on whom he has nursed a long crush. Eventually, though, he must find a way to integrate his true self with this invented persona. Poignantly real journal entries, e-mails and chat sessions allow readers to see into Happyface's world, and many will identify with his yearning for supposed normalcy. Though the catalyst for his metamorphosis is so understated that it's possible some may miss it altogether and be a bit puzzled later in the story, this is a minor detail in an otherwise engaging and absolutely heartfelt tale. (Fiction. 12 & up)
From the Publisher
[star] "Comic artist Emond (Emo Boy) pens an endearing and self-deprecatingly witty debut novel à la illustrated diary...The illustrations range from comics to more fleshed-out drawings. Just like Happyface's writing, they can be whimsical, thoughtful, boyishly sarcastic, off-the-cuff, or achingly beautiful.—Publishers Weekly, starred review

[star] "Moving easily between cartoons and painterly black-and-white illustration, this epistolary novel of a young teen's reinvention of self is subtle and effective... Poignantly real journal entries, e-mails and chat sessions allow readers to see into Happyface's world... [an] engaging and absolutely heartfelt tale.—Kirkus, starred review

Children's Literature - Lauri Berkenkamp
Happyface, the narrator, is a teen who is starting his life over. When his parents split up, Happyface and his mother move to a different town, different school and different way of life. Happyface determinedly transforms himself from the geeky loner drawing in a corner to a perpetually smiling, happy-faced kid. It works, for awhile. Then Happyface's past collides with his present, and he must face all of the challenges he's been avoiding by putting on a happy face. Part journal, part sketchbook and part scrapbook, Emond's novel poignantly and accurately captures the humor, pain, loneliness, and hopefulness of being a teen. Through a combination of cartoons, line drawings, email and instant message snippets, and journal entries, readers experience Happyface's life as he copes with the disintegration of his family and the abrupt and traumatic change of school and persona. What makes this novel particularly interesting is that all the characters are very real portrayals of teenagers: all are flawed but have endearing qualities, and none resolve all of their problems at the end of novel—not even Happyface. Teen readers will especially appreciate Emond's realistic portrayal of high school life in Everytown, USA, and his realistic ending, which shows that just as adolescents can be quick to judge, label and condemn, they can be equally quick to forgive. Reviewer: Lauri Berkenkamp
VOYA - Matthew Weaver
Reeling from a series of heartbreaks, our otherwise nameless hero resolves to adopt a new persona, "Happyface," at his new school. That way they won't see beyond his perpetual cheeriness to his parents' divorce, or the twist involving his brother and Chloe, the girl he thought was out of his league. While keeping a journal, complete with sketches, Happyface tries to keep his past a secret and move on with his life, particularly with the studious, lovely Gretchen, who comes with her own baggage and a long line of ex-boyfriends. Even when he is confused or his friends grow baffled by his self-imposed mysteries, Happyface tries to remain hidden, but Emond puts a well-spun story on display in more than one medium. Also writer of the graphic novel Emo Boy (SLG Publishing, 2006)/VOYA April 2007), he has mastered the voice of the awkward adolescent male. This could be a reference for anyone who has ever asked, "What do teen boys think?" Happyface's journal is insightful, poignant, and hilarious, with illustrations bolstering an already strong voice and story about a character readers will come to love. Happyface never emerges as more than a stick-figure head in his pictures, but readers don't need to know what he looks like—they need to understand how his heart works, and it's laid bare here. Reviewer: Matthew Weaver
School Library Journal
Gr 7–10—Happyface is a shy, artistic sophomore, awkwardly coping with life from the sidelines. When horrific tragedy tears his family apart, he finds himself living in a ratty apartment with his newly sober mom and attending a new high school. Bottling up his grief and fear, he pastes a big smile on his face and makes a fresh start as the class clown. It works for a while and, surrounded by popular friends who know nothing of his real story, Happyface pursues the enigmatic Gretchen, struggling to interpret her mixed signals. Inevitably, the suppressed inner feelings build until Happyface blows up, finally giving him the chance to come clean and make an authentically fresh start without hiding behind a mask. Emond tells the story via the teen's illustrated journal, authentically capturing his up-and-down emotions. The pencil-and-ink sketches, comics, and doodles, paired with a disastrously small handwriting font, lend an intimate stream-of-consciousness feel to a story by turns funny, wrenching, quirky, and redemptive.—Joyce Adams Burner, National Archives at Kansas City, MO

Product Details

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt


By Emond, Stephen

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Copyright © 2010 Emond, Stephen
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780316041003


We went out on the boat today. The sun was setting and I was out on the ocean with Mom and Dad, Everett, and yes, Chloe Hills. Chloe is the hottest girl to say more than three words to me that didn’t include the term lamewad.

The wind was blowing and I was sitting by Chloe and everything was just about perfect…

… but it’s usually the best moments that make me the most nervous.

Chloe has been my friend for a few months now, and my family keeps pushing me to make some kind of move. I know they just want what’s best for me, but that’s like giving me a trampoline and expecting me to jump the Grand Canyon. They don’t really understand what Chloe is and what I am. We are not of the same species. Our commingling would be illegal in most states.

Believe me, I want to ask her out, I want to tell her she’s the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen, I want to tell her “Sweet honey, be mine,” but if I say those things, I won’t even have her as a friend anymore. My macking skills are way wack. I am the least pimpin’ kid in school and I’m not the slightest bit OG. MTV has failed me completely.

I didn’t even want to invite her on the boat. I didn’t want her seeing my family. I didn’t want any of it but Mom kept pestering me, Dad was curious to meet her, and really, I shouldn’t have to repeat that Chloe is a real girl more than three times. There was no way this day could have turned out as anything but an embarrassment. And I was not let down.


5. She might cut into my wall-staring time.

4. I couldn’t ask her out; the phrase “Am I going to have to get one of those restraining-order dealies?” would be too painful to hear.

3. Standing beside Chloe is sure to elicit “My God, that’s a well-trained monkey” at least once.

2. Wouldn’t want to have to start combing my hair or anything.

1. I’m synonymous with three words:

Damn near invisible.

It seemed everyone had something to say and their own form of humiliating me. Dad was too aggressive, and frankly, a huge liar.

Mom is too close to me and has long forgotten what attractive traits in a man are.

Everett was being his typical big brother self. I like him better when he’s at college.

He’ll have his first book published by graduation!

He’s such a sweet boy, I’m sure you’ve heard him stutter when he’s nervous.

You deserve an award, Chloe. It’s not easy having pipsqueak follow you around all day; I know.

Maybe SHE follows ME.

Ever think of that?


“I had no idea it’d be so cold,” Chloe said. “I figured ‘out in the sun, dress light.’” I sat there cursing myself for bringing her. She was miserable; she even had goose bumps on her arms.

Dad brought his coat over to her. “The lady’s cold, show a little class, son.” I think I was disappointing him.

Everyone was talking to Chloe and quickly getting to know her even better than I did. Apparently she toured the east coast with a ballet group and has been featured on TV several times. Who knew? I just looked at my feet and scratched a hole into my arm.

Dad pulled me to the side for one of our luckily infrequent father-son talks. He was looking me in the eye. It made me feel like I was in trouble. “I get it,” he said. “She’s too pretty; you’re shy and nervous.”

If he got it, we wouldn’t have been out there.

“I was that way, too,” he continued. “Believe it or not, you’re the spitting image of me at your age.” Somehow I didn’t believe it. “You’re gonna get older, like I did, and I know it doesn’t feel like it now but it happens fast, and you’re going to realize later that we’re all just people. The cute ones, the not-so-cute ones, the popular people, the successful people, the rich and poor, we’re all the same.

“Chloe’s a girl just like any other girl. And if you don’t let her know how you feel, then she’s never going to know. Girls may seem otherworldly, but trust me, they aren’t mind readers.” He even put a hand on my shoulder. He’d been drinking a bit, so that has to be part of it. “You’re a sincere guy, and you have feelings. That’s nothing to hide.”

It was the most he’d ever said to me in one sitting. Drunk or not, I couldn’t just let the guy down. I had to say something, if not for me, then for Dad. This was a lot of effort for him.

I sat by Chloe and stretched to put my arm around her. Well, I rested it behind her, which I will count as “around her.” Confidence was at an all-time high, and now seemed as good a time as any to make a move. Dad smiled, Mom looked so happy. Chloe and I belonged in a picture frame in the store.

“It’s so pretty out here,” I said, thinking Chloe was in the zone and feeling it, too. I turned to face her. The wind pulled her hair, wrapped it around me, and I said the following: “But not as pretty as you.”

I learned today that you don’t say these things in front of family. Everett did a spit-take and he wasn’t even drinking anything. Mom flushed red and tried her best not to laugh; even Dad cracked a smile as he turned away from me. “That didn’t just happen,” Everett said. Chloe was blushing when everyone finally burst into laughter. I wanted to look at the camera and shrug my shoulders as the trumpets of failure played the Price Is Right losing theme.

Where’s an anchor when you need one?


1. Fourth grade—Sitting in the library, Kerri House asks if she can take one of the empty chairs at my table as I sit alone. She feels bad and invites me to sit with her and her friends, which I decline. Still, the thought was very nice.

2. Sixth grade—Everett throws a party when Mom and Dad are out for the weekend, and lets me hang out the whole night. Or until ten o’ clock when I fall asleep.

3. Seventh grade—I win the art award in school at the end of the year, and for some inexplicable reason, the whole auditorium cheers me.

4. Eighth grade—Mom sends my cartoons in to the local paper, and they run a full-page story on me with the creepiest headline possible for what was supposed to be a fluff piece: “Kid in the Corner Might Be Drawing You.”

5. And second semester, ninth grade—I meet Chloe.


Excerpted from Happyface by Emond, Stephen Copyright © 2010 by Emond, Stephen. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Stephen Emond is the creator of Emo Boy, which ran for twelve issues and two collections with Slave Labor Graphics. He also won a national contest for his comic strip series Steverino, which ran for several years in his local Connecticut newspaper. You can find him at www.stephenemond.com. This is his first novel.

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Happyface 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
robin_titan More than 1 year ago
The format of the book is very unique, that's what I liked the most. I looked forward to the drawings and amusing comic strips. I also liked how honest the protagonist was. He is known to us and most of the characters as Happyface. At first he starts off as an awkward nerd, but then transforms himself into someone who always smiles and is liked by everyone. In journal format he talks about how is life was before and after a certain event. About this event, I won't spoil it, but I don't like how that portion of the story was developed. To me it felt as if it kind of came out of nowhere. I get what the author was going for, but I just didn't like it. *shrug* I also thought some of Happyface's problems were his own fault. This guy is very possessive and somewhat mentally unstable so it was kind of hard to side with him or feel that much sympathy towards him, especially when he exhibited stalker-like tendencies (even as a child he was not that great with his emotions). He should have talked to a professional, his mom, or at least his friends, just someone. Again, I still did like how the protagonist was so honest. As a reader, you really came to understand why he did all the actions he did and why he tried to hide it behind a smile. In a way, it makes you think about how easy it could be to just pretend certain bad things in your life don't happen and just smile. Maybe eventually you'll be happy. I like how this book made me think that even though Happyface did not really learn much in the end. In my opinion anyway. I just feel like he did not make much progress on that front. For all his flaws, I loved reading about Happyface. It was extremely fascinating to me and I could not stay away from the book for long no matter how much I needed to. I recommend this, just know what to expect. -T.V and Book Addict
Tholo More than 1 year ago
It made me want to cry, laugh, and cringe all at once!
yum More than 1 year ago
This story was very engaging. It is about a highschool dorky boy who gets picked on in class. He is very interested in his studies, and doesn't seem to fit anywhere on the social scale. He meets this girl named Chloe, who he really likes, but he never ends up getting the chance to ask her out, and soon his life gets flipped around tragically, and he never gets the chance to. He moves to a new school in a new city, where he vows that he will never be the same dorky kid again. He puts a smile on his face and walks through the new highschool like he is "the man". People start to flock to him and he starts getting new friends. His friends even nickname him "Happyface". He forgets about Chloe, and gets a new crush on a girl named Gretchen. Gretchen is very pretty and he tries to win her heart. Meanwhile, his past decides to resurface, and he is worried that he won't be able to become the hot shot he wants to be. The book is written with humor and art. It is in a diary form, written by Happyface himself. A fun work of art.
lexie49 More than 1 year ago
The book "Happyface" by Stephen Emond was overall a great book. I would recommend this book for teenagers rather than adults. Happyface, the main character, uses a journal to write down all of his thoughts so the readers are basically inside him. They are really able to learn about Happyface inside and out, this helps the readers understand the book. The book is different than other books because it uses a lot of drawings so it can paint of picture of the story in the readers head. I liked how in the book when Happyface changes schools, the readers would expect Happyface to become instantly popular when he says he is going to change when he moves but that is not necessarily true. The book always leaves the reader asking themselves "what is going to happen next?". Therefore, the book "Happyface" by Stephen Emond is a great book to read and I would most definitely recommend it. 
Stn More than 1 year ago
Loved it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I spotted this book , I definitely knew I had to read it . When I saw a smiley face , it reminded me of myself because I'm literally happy all the time . I read this book when I was twelve years old and it took me two weeks or less to finish it . I've read this book of a total of 4 times for independent reading at my school . This book was extremely amusing ! It had me flabbergasted and smiling throughout the book ! If you're one of those faking a smile , don't hold grudges or trying to fit in type of people , this book is especially for you . I guarantee you that you'll love this book . Then again , we all have our different opinions . Therefore , you're missing out .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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cdot3787 More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Happyface. The plot had just the right amount of twists, and good humor. Although I was quite disappointed after I was through reading. I picked up the book hoping to read a book about a geeky teenage boy, one that made references to The Legend of Zelda or other geeky things. That didn't happen so much in this story. There were a few pop culture references that made me laugh, but I don't think you could call this boy "Geeky". I don't even think you could call him "Nerdy". Just an average slacker teenage boy. As far as the theme of this book goes, I'd say it's just an average one. I've heard this story before. Typical boy, typical feuding parents, typical lost brother. I think if this book was released a year or so earlier, it would be more interesting. In my own personal opinion this is becoming an overused theme. The author was very good at disguising plot twists. I consider myself to be an analyzing reader, and I, myself, could not guess some of the different twists Emond worked in. I also loved how Happyface was an artist. The artwork that replaces journal entries sometimes tells a lot more than words ever could. It's truly beautiful work. All in all, I found this book to be a good escape. The sudden changes in plot kept me interested, however mediocre they were.
TheSwingKids More than 1 year ago
This book is definitely for the teenager and the kind of people who love art and the idea of getting into other peoples shoes. It really was a great book I didn't have to force myself to keep reading like I have to with other books. It was not dry reading for one second, I love it a lot ^_^ :D :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cougar_H More than 1 year ago
I would recommend reading Happyface, by Stephen Emond to girls and boys of all ages and reading levels. It doesn't have very difficult vocabulary and has an easy story line. Girls would like this book because it's coming from a nearby boys point of view, who has no friends and he wants to become a "jock" and get the girl of his dreams. The book talks about girls personalities and how guys process the thought of "girls" in their minds. In the book where it talks about how much he is in love with Gretchen and Chloe is a good example Boys would also like this book because it shows them how dumb they act in front of girls and the things they do to impress them like were Happyface got drunk in front of Chloe. Also, the book is coming from a guy's point of view so they can relate more. I would recommend the reading of this book because once you start reading, you can't put it down! I personally finished this book in a day!!! It's really intriguing and captures the reader's attention with the doodles the author put in to describe Happyfaces's life. The author also takes on the challenge of making Happyface's friends all have different personalities. None of them are boring and are the some old average person because they all have some twist to them. The author also describes his family's personalities and their past struggles. The book is also a very interesting book. It doesn't bore you like most books these days. Also, it has more than one climax to it and a lot of dilemmas that Happyface has to go through. A good example is when his parents divorce, and then when his brother dies. It's a very intriguing book. It has an interesting title (that grabbed my attention in the library), and it has a great story line, the pictures make it even better to get a mental picture. Any reading level could read this book, and it's great for all ages! Overall, Happyface by Stephen Emond is an excellent book, an easy ready, and all around hilarious book. Its characters have many different personalities and they all come with their own set of problems that Happyface has to deal with.
ChicharitoHernandez More than 1 year ago
It's all right, I guess. I found it boring, no diffrent than the other diary-type books. Maybe I'm more into fiction books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ajwashere More than 1 year ago
It's an okay book, I wouldn't recommend it to people who like non-fiction though.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago