So Happy!

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There once was a boy,
a ...

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Overview

There once was a boy,
a rabbit,
a magic seed,
and a book.

The boy, who was bored,
went looking for something to do.
The rabbit, who was curious,
explored until he was lost.
The seed was thirsty,
but soon it grew and grew and grew.

And the book?
You are holding it in your hands.
Turn the pages!
It will make you so happy.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Henkes (Kitten's First Full Moon) here concentrates on the text, interweaving the stories of a magic seed, a bored boy and a stranded rabbit into a spare narrative. Lobel (On Market Street) gives the threefold tale a Mexican or South American setting, conveyed with an illustration facing the title page: the boy and his mother, dressed in brightly patterned clothing, wave goodbye to the vaquero father as he rides off into a desert landscape. Lobel inventively emphasizes the trio of themes with pages often divided into three panels that visually tell the concurrent stories, which unfold in brief, declarative statements: "The seed was thirsty./ The rabbit was lost./ The boy was bored." Swirls of Van Gogh-esque brushwork emphasize the imminent drama in nature, while the boy's sterile white environment stresses his inactivity. The three subjects begin to intersect after a rainstorm in which the boy plays, the seed grows and the rabbit becomes trapped by a quickly filling creek bed. In complementary contrast to the minimalist story, which could take place in any setting, Lobel uses deliberate, heavy brush strokes to depict the desert's flora and fauna (purple hills, spotted frogs, prickly cactus) and vividly evokes the movement of sky and water. When the amaryllis-like flower bursts from the seed (the boy picks it for his mother, who planted it) and the rabbit arrives home (courtesy of the boy's playtime endeavors), young readers will be left with a comforting feeling of the world's interconnectedness (even the father returns in the final spread). Ages 2-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1-Original and fresh, Henkes's latest surprise is a collaboration with Lobel, who provides watercolor and gouache illustrations in a style reminiscent of Van Gogh. Set in the Southwest, this circular story about a seed, a rabbit, and a boy is reinforced by the rounded forms in the artist's highly textured scenes. The moon, the sun, the glow enveloping the seed and the child, the frenetic lines of motion surrounding the rabbit and the arc of the rainbow all serve to reinforce the cycles of life that are the subject of this drama. The just-planted seed doesn't grow, the rabbit (who has hopped over the narrow part of a creek) is lost, and the boy is bored-until it rains. Catalyst for all that follows, the storm swells the river; thus, the rabbit is prevented from retracing his steps, the boy is inspired to build a bridge from sticks, the hibiscus is nourished, and the rabbit has a way to return home. The minimal text is paired with one-page scenes, full spreads, and triple panels as dictated by the pace of the plot. In the end, the seed planted by the mother becomes a present from her son; the family portrait depicts the woman finding a spot for the bloom and father and child preparing to read a book on bridges. A satisfying look at the interplay of nature, time, and love.-Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In a rich landscape that could be Mexico or the Southwest, a woman plants a seed; her son can't think of anything to do; and a little rabbit crosses a tiny bit of water "narrow as a ribbon." When the rains come, the seed starts growing, the boy is excited, and the rabbit gets "wet and scared." When the rain stops, the boy starts to build a bridge across the creek, now "wide as a door" and green shoots make a flower. There's a rainbow, the rabbit gets home crossing the bridge, and the boy brings the flower to his mother. Everyone was "so happy!" Using very few words, Henkes makes this marvelous, evocative tale sing. Lobel's brilliantly colored watercolor-and-gouache paintings capture both the shadows and the golden light, the hills and the scrub. The mother's dark braids and brightly embroidered clothing contrast nicely with the white muslin of her son's; when the father comes home at the end of the story (after galloping off in the morning), he wears a striped serape and brings his son a book about bridges. Reassuring and beautiful. (Picture book. 4-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060564834
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/15/2005
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.25 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Kevin Henkes

Kevin Henkes is the author and illustrator of close to fifty critically acclaimed and award-winning picture books, beginning readers, and novels. He received the Caldecott Medal for Kitten's First Full Moon in 2005. Kevin Henkes is also the creator of a number of picture books featuring his mouse characters, including the #1 New York Times bestsellers Lilly's Big Day and Wemberly Worried, the Caldecott Honor Book Owen, and the beloved Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse. His most recent mouse character, Penny, was introduced in Penny and Her Song (2012); her story continued in Penny and Her Doll and Penny and Her Marble (a Geisel Honor Book). Bruce Handy, in a New York Times Book Review piece about A Good Day, wrote, "It should be said: Kevin Henkes is a genius." Kevin Henkes received two Newbery Honors for novels—one for his newest novel for young readers, The Year of Billy Miller, and the other for Olive's Ocean. Also among his fiction for older readers are the novels Junonia, Bird Lake Moon, The Birthday Room, and Sun & Spoon. He lives with his family in Madison, Wisconsin.

Anita Lobel's name is synonymous with the best in children's literature. She is the creator of such classics as Alison's Zinnia and Away from Home, and she received a Caldecott Honor for her illustrations in On Market Street. She is the creator of two books about her cat, Nini, One Lighthouse, One Moon (a New York Times Best Illustrated Book), and Nini Here and There. Her childhood memoir, No Pretty Pictures: A Child of War, was a finalist for the National Book Award. Anita Lobel lives in New York City.

Biography

Kevin Henkes still owns some of his favorite books from childhood. "They're brimming with all the telltale signs of true love: dog-eared pages, fingerprints on my favorite illustrations, my name and address inscribed on both front and back covers in inch-high lettering, and the faint smell of stale peanut butter on the bindings," he says in an interview on his web site.

Back in his peanut-butter sandwich days, Henkes dreamed of becoming an artist. By high school, he had combined his love of drawing with a newfound interest in writing, and at age 19, he took his portfolio to New York City in hopes of finding a publisher. Young Henkes returned home from his weeklong trip with a contract from Greenwillow Books, and he's worked as a children's writer and illustrator ever since.

Henkes's style has evolved over the years to include more humor, more whimsy and a lot more mice. Though he began illustrating his picture books with realistic drawings of children, he's since developed a recurring cast of mouse characters rendered in a more cartoon-like style -- though with a range of expressions that make the spirited Lilly, anxious Wemberly, fearless Sheila Rae and sensitive Chrysanthemum into highly believable heroines. Owen, the story of a little mouse who isn't ready to give up his tattered security blanket, won a Caldecott Honor Medal for its winsome watercolor-and-ink illustrations.

Many of Henkes's mouse books deal with such common childhood ordeals as starting school, being teased and getting lost. Chrysanthemum, about a mouse whose new schoolmates tease her about her name, was inspired by Henkes's own feelings when he started school. "The book is about family, and how starting something new and going out into the world can be very hard," he told an interviewer for The Five Owls. "I remember going to kindergarten -- my grandfather had a beautiful rose garden, and he gave me the last roses of the season to bring to the kindergarten teacher the next day. I don't even remember how it happened, but an older kid took these flowers from me on the playground, and I remember coming home, feeling awful." As a grown-up, Henkes is able to translate difficult childhood transitions into stories that are both honest and reassuring. In a review of Chrysanthemum, Kirkus Reviews noted: "Henkes's language and humor are impeccably fresh, his cozy illustrations sensitive and funny, his little asides to adults an unobtrusive delight."

Henkes has also written novels for older children, in which he "explores family relationships with breathtaking tenderness" (Publisher's Weekly). In The Birthday Room, for example, a twelve-year-old boy learns the reason for his mother's long estrangement from her brother, and helps effect a reconciliation. "Refreshingly, Henkes has given us a male protagonist who is reflective, creative and emotionally sensitive," wrote Karen Leggett in The New York Times Book Review. "Ben feels the anguish of his mother's long-simmering bitterness and his uncle's agonizing guilt. Yet at a time when it is almost a fad to blame dysfunctional families for problems, we learn that even though there are never simple answers and not many fairy-tale endings, families can heal."

Though his novels are more complex and serious than his picture books, all Henkes's works suggest an author with deep empathy for the intense emotions of childhood. As a Publisher's Weekly reviewer wrote, "Behind each book is a wide-open heart, one readers can't help but respond to, that makes all of Henkes's books of special value to children."

Good To Know

Henkes's wife, Laura Dronzek, is also an artist. She painted the cover illustration for Henkes' novel Sun and Spoon and illustrated his picture book Oh!.

Henkes has turned down requests to use his mouse characters in a television series, but some of his books are available in video form in Chrysanthemum and More Kevin Henkes Stories. The video's narrators include Meryl Streep, Sarah Jessica Parker and Mary Beth Hurt.

Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse has been adapted into a stage play.

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    1. Hometown:
      Madison, Wisconsin
    1. Date of Birth:
      November 27, 1960
    2. Place of Birth:
      Racine, Wisconsin
    1. Education:
      University of Wisconsin, Madison
    2. Website:

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