The sun on your face. The smell of warm bannock baking in the oven. Holding the hand of someone you love. What fills your heart with happiness? This beautiful board book, with illustrations from celebrated artist Julie Flett, serves as a reminder for little ones and adults alike to reflect on and cherish the moments in life that bring us joy.
International speaker and award-winning author Monique Gray Smith wrote My Heart Fills with Happiness to support the wellness of Indigenous children and families, and to encourage young children to reflect on what makes them happy.
A quiet loveliness, sense of gratitude, and--yes--happiness emanate from this tender celebration of simple pleasures, which features a cast of First Nations children and adults; Smith dedicates the book, in part, "to the former Indian Residential School students and their families." Short, first-person phrases ("My heart fills with happiness when... I see the face of someone I love") revel in both solitary and familial activities, building to a direct address to readers: "What fills your heart with happiness?" Flett's (Little You) crisp-edged paintings blend universal and culturally specific experiences--three children cluster around the oven as bannock bakes, while another boy spots a frog as he walks barefoot through the grass. Up to age 5. (Feb.)Copyright 2015 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.
Toddler-PreS—Joyful and tender, this board book celebrates the activities that bring gladness through family and cultural connections. On one spread, three children wait in front of the oven in a modern kitchen ("My heart fills with happiness when...I smell bannock baking in the oven."). The patterns on their clothing are echoed in the kitchen textiles, creating a sense of belonging and completeness. Flett's quietly powerful gouache and digital collage illustrations emphasize the relationships between people through small gestures and touches; the bold colors and simplified compositions increase the impact by stripping away all that is unnecessary. Other things that bring happiness include holding hands, seeing the face of a loved one, singing, drumming, feeling the sun's rays, and listening to stories. All the people appear to be indigenous, although specific groups are not mentioned. The book is dedicated to "former Indian Residential School students and their families." The author and illustrator are strongly connected to their Canadian Aboriginal communities, and the sweet family story has universal appeal. VERDICT A first purchase for all libraries.—Anna Haase Krueger, Ramsey County Library, MNCopyright 2016 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.