When I Am Happiest

illus. by Eva Eriksson. 128p. Gecko Pr. Sept. 2015. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781927271902.
Gr 1–3—Young Dani is back in the third installment of the series. As in My Happy Life (2013) and My Heart Is Laughing (2014, both Gecko Pr.), Dani tends to see the good in most situations and is usually happy. Starting on the penultimate day of her first year of school, everything once again looks sunny; she looks forward to wearing a new dress and singing on the last day. However, her resilient personality is put to the test when she learns that her father was hit by a car while riding his bike and he may not wake up. Dani struggles with trying to find the positive when her world is turned upside down. The story lines of the previous two books were built around Dani's mostly jovial relationships with her father and her best friend, Ella, who had moved away. This new volume shifts to heavier subject matter. Now, Dani has to find support from her grandparents and her cousin, Sven, while navigating her uncertain future. One bright spot for the protagonist is the book she is writing about the time she was happiest—if she can find it within her to be happy again, that is. Eriksson's delightful black-and-white drawings help to soften the severity of the subject matter, as their sweetness comes through the characters' expressions.
VERDICT Though this title is more serious than the first two installments, those who are fans of Dani will applaud her resiliency and attitude.—Michele Shaw, Quail Run Elementary School, San Ramon, CA
, Aug 01, 2015

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