Reviews /

The Extraordinary Book That Makes You Feel Happy

Authored by Poppy O'Neill
Illustrated by Caribay M. Benavides
Published by Weldon Owen Children's Books

This is a highly practical book focusing on helping children of 7 years and above with their emotions, feelings and self-awareness.

The Extraordinary Book That Makes You Feel Happy comprises of 30 separate pages, each with an idea to explore. These ideas are about the reader getting to know themselves and being happy in the moments that are around them every day, along with an activity to do and keep. Each activity can be easily cut out from the bottom of the page and range from sporty (such as yoga poses), cooking (making breadsticks), practical (cutting out and displaying positive messages) and drama (cutting out characters to perform a film). The positive message of the book is that of how amazing you are and that you will be with you for the rest of your life, so it is best to enjoy who you are.

The activities have been well chosen, with a good range to appeal to different personalities. The instructions are easy to follow, with either numbered steps or simple colourful pictures. Sometimes the writing is hard to see because of the dark colours on the pages and some activities are not as clear as they could be with some inaccuracies. For example, the frozen lollies activities take 4 hours to freeze according to the instructions, but the clocks only show a change of 3 hours. In another, the time is given as 30″, which may not be clear as 30 meaning 30 minutes.

I think there also needs to be a section on what a: trusted adult, friend, special person, ‘someone’ is, as some of the activities require the reader to give something they have made to them. The introduction reminds the grown-up to be around to manage how the reader responds to some of the activities, challenges for example one which is to do with families. It would be also very helpful to read the introduction with an adult for full understanding and discuss the different approaches to using the book. It would also be useful to mention at the beginning of the book that not everything is provided for in the book as some extra resources are required such as scissors, pencils, access to an outside area, coins, photographs, food and paper.

I really like how at the back of the book, there is a folded pocket in which to keep the activity that you cut out, as from my own experience with children using these types of books, the actual activity can often be lost quite quickly. And the whole point of these sorts of challenges is that you should be able to come back to them again and again when the time is right and they are needed.

Winner of the Week Junior Book Awards 2023 – Children’s Book of the Year: Younger Non-Fiction (6-9 year-olds)