Layla's Happiness

by Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie (Author) Ashleigh Corrin (Illustrator)

Layla's Happiness
Reading Level: K − 1st Grade

Seven-year-old Layla loves life! So she keeps a happiness book. What is happiness for her? For you?

Spirited and observant, Layla is a child who's been given room to grow, making happiness both thoughtful and intimate. It's her dad talking about growing-up in South Carolina; her mom reading poetry; her best friend Juan, the community garden, and so much more. Written by poet Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie and illustrated by Ashleigh Corrin, this is a story of flourishing within family and community.

"Affirmations of black childhood abound, and whimsical wishes float like dandelion fluff. Equally as imaginative as the lyrical text, Corrin's boldly colored, textured illustrations beautifully capture the buoyant spirit of Layla, a brown girl exuding confidence, comfortable in her own skin--indoors and out. Well-illustrated poetry of the best kind that will leave sunshine in its wake." -STARRED REVIEW, Kirkus

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School Library Journal

Starred Review

PreS-Gr 2—Tallie honors the many ways children define happiness. Seven-year-old Layla, an urban-dwelling brown-skinned girl, narrates in a voice that is authentically childlike and lyrical as she describes the experiences and connections that bring her enjoyment and contentment. She describes interactions with the natural world, special times with her parents and friends, with the small pleasures of autonomy and the deep joys of life connected to others. The urban setting and diverse neighborhood make the title instantly relatable to a broad audience. Handwritten with one entry per page, like a particularly well-made journal or bucket list, Layla's litany of high points is illustrated by Corrin in full-page bleeds. The digital artwork has the feel and appearance of block-print and hand-coloring, with deep tones that serve to anchor and extend the engaging text. The child shares her thoughts about happiness with readers and wraps ups by asking, "What is happiness to you?" VERDICT A handsome and helpful primer on self-reflection and a mirror to urban black and brown children, this joyous title could be well paired with Samantha Berger's What if....—Lisa Lehmuller, Paul Cuffee Maritime Charter School, Providence

Copyright 2019 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"Tallie honors the many ways children define happiness...A handsome and helpful primer on self-reflection and a mirror to urban black and brown children, this joyous title could be well paired with Samantha Berger's What If." -STARRED REVIEW, School Library Journal
Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie
Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie was born in Queens, NY. Tallie has performed poetry & taught in the US, Namibia, The Netherlands, Belgium, & England. She has also authored several collections of poetry and is the mother of three galaxies who look like daughters.

Ashleigh Corrin is a graphic designer by day, illustrator by night, residing in Northern VA with her husband. Her talent comes from her late Grandmother who has inspired Ashleigh to serve people's unique stories with creativity. With her illustrations, Ashleigh hopes to contribute to good laughs, nostalgia, vulnerability, transparency, and seeing the light in ourselves and others.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Enchanted Lion Books
Publication date
November 19, 2019
BISAC categories
JUV039060 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Friendship
JUV039050 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Emotions & Feelings
JUV070000 - Juvenile Fiction | Poetry (see also Stories in Verse)
Library of Congress categories
African Americans
Community gardens

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