My Heart Is Laughing

illus. by Eva Eriksson. 124p. Gecko Pr. Oct. 2014. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781877579523.
RedReviewStarGr 1–3—This charming follow up to My Happy Life (Gecko, 2013) brings back eternal optimist Dani as she navigates through the ups and downs of daily life. Wanting to escape any sorrowful happenings in her world, Dani chooses to view her life through somewhat rose-colored glasses. When reality unravels her sunny disposition in the form of bullying, Dani longs to be with her best friend, Ella, who moved away in the first installment of the series. Dani's close relationship with her father grows as he helps her navigate tricky relationships at school and at home. Eriksson's plentiful black-and-white line drawings expressively show joy and distress and perfectly complement the story. Lagercrantz has the ability to develop her characters fully, while keeping the story approachable for young readers just wanting to tackle chapter books. Genuine feelings such as humor, honesty, and heartbreak will leave readers yearning for Dani to return once again.—Michele Shaw, Quail Run Elementary School, San Ramon, CA
First grader Dani (My Happy Life) is still sad about best friend Ella moving away, but she's a sturdy kid. Then things get sticky at school: classmates Mickey and Vicky both like the same boy, but he likes Dani. Lagercrantz's text is funny and real; Eriksson's line drawings brilliantly portray expressions and body language. Salty and sweet, this is umami for the emerging reader.
First grader Dani, of My Happy Life (rev. 7/13), returns in an early chapter book that packs an emotional punch. She's still sad about her best friend Ella moving away, but Dani's a sturdy kid, a firm believer in positive thinking. Then things get sticky at school: classmates Mickey and Vicky both like the same boy, Cushion, but he likes Dani, so M & V ostracize Dani. When their retaliation gets physical -- they start sneakily pinching Dani's arm at the lunch table -- she fights back, inadvertently causing a food fight and getting herself into trouble. Thank goodness for Dani's patient father and no-nonsense teacher, not to mention the love and support of Ella, all of whom help Dani speak up for herself. Lagercrantz's text is funny, real, and full of fresh, convincing detail. Eriksson's line drawings brilliantly portray facial expressions and body language -- Cushion's tentative approach to Dani; her teacher's big, solid, comforting hand enclosing her shoulder. When Dani magnanimously and publicly forgives Mickey and Vicky, her pose conveys a nuanced mixture of genuine relief and neener-neener triumph. Salty and sweet, this is umami for the emerging reader. sarah ellis

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