When I Am Happiest by Rose Lagercrantz and Eva Eriksson
|When I Am Happiest by Rose Lagercrantz and Eva Eriksson|
|Category: Emerging Readers|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: This trilogy-closing book packs an almighty punch of emotion, considering the small size of it and its heroine.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 128||Date: August 2015|
|Publisher: Gecko Press|
If Dani leaves her school for the summer holidays with one souvenir, it will either be the memories of the fabulous friendship she formed with Ella, who struck a chord in book one then moved away, or it will be a book she has written and compiled to remind her of all the happiness she has encountered along the way. That is not quite finished, for the following day is to be the great end of year party, and her classroom decorations are complete and her dress has been bought new specially. But not all of life is happiness and jollity – and Dani is removed from the classroom to face very bad news. What ending is in store, for her book and for ours?
While this is the third in a trilogy (so far) it is perfectly self-contained. There are once more flashbacks to happy times, with Dani being so jolly – even when the team she plays on loses she still has fun. If she wasn't such a friendly creature, and so cute in the accompanying pictures, she might be insufferably twee, but life has a dark side, and so does hers. And when it comes in these pages it's really quite dark indeed, although played out with perfect poise and delicacy.
These books are ideal at bringing a touchy subject to the emerging reader – one who has left the parental guide behind them and can get through a book solo. Bewildered is as complex as things are here, and the pages with their sparse script, copious wonderful illustrations and short sentences are very much on the side of the young audience. But such is the strength of the scenario here, and the simplicity and directness of the delivery, that the adult may want to be attendant to check things are OK. There are chapter breaks here where it would definitely NOT be a good idea to stop reading for the night.
On the face of it we have an unusual style – I know it's been translated, but it's almost as if it were designed to be adapted globally. The sentences are so easy and abrupt it almost read to me as if it was a 'my first dual-language' book, and that we would get the original Swedish too as a language-learning aide. Instead it's about the emotions and what they cause, and the main lesson is the light at the end of the tunnel. But my final lesson is to declare that nothing is forced down our throat, either through bluntness, simplicity, patronising or anything. The whole galling scenario is presented to us with utter clarity, and we're left dealing with quite the most superlatively punchy yet warm, intelligent yet all-welcoming, little person's book.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
I first met the series midway.
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You can read more book reviews or buy When I Am Happiest by Rose Lagercrantz and Eva Eriksson at Amazon.com.
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