Hundred Years of Happiness

HarperCollins. Apr. 2022. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780063026926.
K-Gr 3–An’s grandmother, Bà, can no longer remember. An spends time after school with Bà, feeding her sweet fruit and singing a forgotten song about a baby elephant. An’s grandfather, Ông, is devoted to his wife, thinking of ways to remind her of herself. Enlisting An’s help, Ông plants seeds, hoping to grow the vines that will render the special fruit used in Vietnamese sticky rice. This dish holds a special place in the family history, as it was eaten at the couple’s long-ago wedding as family wished them a “Hundred Years of Happiness.” An and Ông lovingly tend their vines, eventually rewarded with the prickly orange fruit. After a couple of unsuccessful attempts, Bà is presented with the rich, red treat. For a moment, and only a moment, Bà’s memory rises to the surface. While An is disappointed, Ông is ready to start again, if only to recover one more small moment. The illustrations are soft and lovely, connecting the family’s journey to the growth of the lush green vines. The bittersweet sorrow of watching a loved one deal with memory loss is palpable in the lyrical text but ultimately the story celebrates every moment of joy.
VERDICT At once a lifelong love story between husband and wife, a tribute to the sweetness of multigenerational connections, and a celebration of Vietnamese cultural traditions and cuisine, this title should find a home in every collection.

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