…one of those joyous rarities: a book about girls who are neither infallible nor pratfall-prone, but who are instead very realboth admirable and relatable…
My Happy Life…[is] about how children process negative experiences, whether it's a friend moving away or a classroom spat…It's about children's natural and learned resilience, the incredible bouncing back that never ceases to surprise their worn-down parents. The book's intended readers may not realize they are reading about anything unusually prized, but they will recognize they're on to something quite splendid. If only all early chapter books were this beautifully conceived.
The New York Times - Pamela Paul
To understand the true meaning and value of resilience, look no further than the 20 brief chapters of this early reader, created by two longtime Swedish collaborators and beautifully translated into spare, lyrical prose. Even at a young age, Dani has seen more than her share of heartache: the best friend she meets in chapter four moves away by chapter eight (“ wished she could move, too. But she had to stay behind”), a departure that prompts the sad revelation that Dani’s mother died sometime earlier. “They said she had passed away,” writes Lagercrantz, “but how could a dead person pass anything? And away to where?” But as Eriksson’s emotionally astute and often endearingly funny pencil drawings show, Dani does indeed have much to be happy about. She has a loving father and extended family, an unflappable teacher whose lesson plans form a wry running joke (“They had a fruit week and a vegetable week. They learned all about fruit and vegetables”), and—above all—an openness to reflection and new possibilities, big and small. Ages 6�up. (Mar.)
Dani is a happy little girl who has been waiting all summer long to start school. But on the way to school, she starts to have doubts about a new school, meeting new friends, and a new teacher. The first day turns out to be a little scary, but fun. During recess the next day, Dani is watching the other children play and wonders if she will have a friend to play with. Then she meets Ella. Soon she and Ella are playing together and doing everything together. The girls become best friends. One day Ella has a wonderful surprise for Dania friendship necklace. The girls become even closerlike sisters. Then after Christmas, Ella has another surprise for Dani. But this time the surprise is not an enjoyable one. Ella is going to move. She is going to move far away. Dani is upset with the bad news and cries. When Ella quits coming to school, Dani is no longer a happy girl. She misses her best friend and cries a lot, especially when she sees Ellen’s empty seat next to her. Dani cries because it hurts a lot! Dani’s dad tries to cheer her up by buying her the hamsters she and Ella saw at the pet store. Dani is okay for a while, but then gets in a fight at school! However, shortly after that something good happens at school and later at home to make Dani happy again. Readers will enjoy seeing the beautifully drawn illustrations as they read. They will also be amused, pleased, and even saddened at the events that unfold in the rest of the book. Parents and teachers alike can use this book to discuss events in a young child’s life that can influence them. Reviewer: Cathi I. White; Ages 6 to 8.
Children's Literature - Cathi I. White
Gr 1�3—Young Dani has what she considers a happy life, but she wonders if she will still be happy once she starts school. The butterflies subside when she meets Ella, and they are soon fast friends. When Ella moves away, Dani doesn't think she'll find happiness again, and she reflects on how unhappy she was when her mother died. The story unfolds in short chapters, with just a few sentences per page and large, plentiful, black-and-white drawings. The illustrations complement the narrative well, and will enable younger readers to feel a sense of accomplishment for tackling a lengthy chapter book. The few characters are well developed and the everyday happenings in Dani's life feel genuine, such as friendship woes and childhood fears. The difficult subjects are handled gracefully, allowing children to realize that happiness comes and goes, and that everyone has hardships to face.—Michele Shaw, Quail Run Elementary School, San Ramon, CA
A chapter book about childhood depression paradoxically delivers a very happy reading experience. Dani can't sleep the night before school starts, and with good reason. Will she like it? Will she be forced to spend all her time learning? Luckily, she makes a new best friend on Day 2. Dani and Ella sit together at lunchtime, choose each other for partners, establish the Night Club (an ambitious name for sleepovers) and even wear two halves of one heart necklace. Nothing can come between them, except, all of a sudden, "thousands of streets and roads" between Dani's town and Ella's new house, where she has to move with her family. Dani is no stranger to loss; her mother died when she was younger, but when she loses Ella, her happy mood succumbs to depression. New hamsters help. New friends help. But what really helps is the promise of a visit. Acclaimed Swedish writer Lagercrantz applies exactly the right amount of whimsical childhood observation and attitude to a serious exploration of a very young, broken heart. Eriksson's pen-and-ink illustrations supply a simple yet wholly engaged context for these small, brave characters. A sweet read for both children and their parents, who may be grateful at the reminder of the emotional complexity lurking behind their children's smiles. (Fiction. 6-10)