Book Review: Looking for Happy
by Ty Chapman, Illustrated by Keenon Ferrell
Publication Date: May 02, 2023
List Price: $18.99
Format: Hardcover, 40 pages
Target Age Group: Early Reader
Imprint: Beaming Books
Publisher: 1517 Media
Parent Company: Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Book Reviewed by Judy Allen Dodson
“Some days, Happy is Hard to Find” as we set out on a quest in this heartfelt and hopeful picture book, Looking For Happy, which follows a young Black boy who is experiencing some sad feelings throughout his day but he doesn’t know why. On his journey to shake the “blues” he experiences several external events that he thought would bring him joy like reading books, playing with friends, and watching cartoons but when none of those things make him happy, he gets discouraged. “I don’t know what’s the matter,” I say. “I tried all my favorite things, but I’m still not happy.” When his grandmother visits, she provides some comfort and encouragement that leads him to try to find happiness again. “Well,” says Grandma, “everyone feels like that sometimes.” They take a walk through the park but his sadness still won’t go away until he hears music playing from a golden horn and his “head is full of music.“ This meaningful self-reflection teaches a valuable lesson to young readers that gives reassurance of finding happiness is attainable but not always instant.
The story’s central message of finding happiness in everyday moments is both significant and timely. With exceptional storytelling and age-appropriate text, Chapman uses the main character’s meaningful encounters and self-reflection to encourage children to appreciate the beauty of the world around them and to cultivate a positive mindset, especially when they’re not feeling their best. The boy learns that happiness can be found externally and within oneself, emphasizing the importance of kindness, gratitude, and self-acceptance.
Ferrell adds depth to the narrative with his beautiful and expressive illustrations which capture the essence of the story. The imagination of young readers will be captivated by the way the illustrations charmingly depict and complement the text, which shows the range of experiences of the main character. The colorful and engaging artwork brings the characters and their emotions to life.
This story is a must-have to include in any young child’s library. It offers a way to begin conversations around feelings; unhappy and happy and to know when to seek help. The valuable life lessons learned in this book help to normalizes and take away the shame from the emotional ups and downs in life.