Layla’s Happiness

Enchanted Lion. Oct. 2019. 48p. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781592702886.
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….

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