BGSU education majors contribute to the reviews posted here as part of the Curriculum Resource Center (CRC) book review initiative.
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
You Make Me Happy
You Make Me Happy
Written by An Swerts; illustrated by Jenny Bakker
Clavis Publishing Inc., 2015, Ages 4-8
You Make Me Happy is about a little girl named Sophia who is struggling with her feelings about a boy she likes. In the beginning of the story something is wrong with Sophia. She denies dinner from her mom one night and then says no to her grandma when asked if she would like cookies on their walk. Her grandma can obviously tell that something is wrong so she waits to see if Sophia will tell her. Sophia then asks her grandma the burning question that has been bothering her: “is it possible to love someone too much?” With that question, the story continues with Sophia talking about what the little boy does that makes her happy. Her grandmother knows exactly how she feels and tells Sophia about her young love with Sophia’s grandpa. Sophia continues to ask for her grandma’s advice throughout the book and her grandma tells her she must tell the little boy. In the end, Sophia’s grandma asks her how she is going to tell the boy that she likes him. Sophia replies by letting a balloon float towards the boy that says: “You make me happy.” This book really utilizes strong text and meaningful illustrations to get the love story across in an effective yet understandable way for young children. The author’s writing style throughout the book is very emotion filled and descriptive. It is simple enough for young children to understand, but has more complex words that would keep the attention of older children as well. You can tell in certain phrases the emotion the character would use to say that sentence and how much the little boy means to Sophia. For example, in the very beginning of the book when Sophia’s mom tells her to come down for dinner and Sophia denies, her mother asks her if she is ill. Sophia doesn’t reply but simply “shrugs (and) small furrows appear on her forehead.” The author really utilizes imagery through her writing as well that accompany the illustrations perfectly. For example, the grandma asks Sophia why she likes the little boy so much in which she replies, “’he makes funny faces when the teacher is writing on the blackboard,’ Sophia says with a twinkle in her eyes.” After reading that, you can almost imagine a little girl talking about something that means the world to her and her eyes lighting up. The author does a very effective job of using descriptive words so the reader can really understand what the characters are feeling. The illustrator does a remarkable job of portraying what the author is saying through her illustrations. The colors used are very vibrant, but subtle at the same time and seem to have a watered down affect like they were painted with watercolors. All of the illustrations are double spread so they go across two pages, which make them appear very elaborate. In a few of the illustrations, the illustrator specifically makes some objects in different, more vibrant colors so they stand out amongst the background. The muddled, watered down affect really creates a swaying or moving motion throughout the pictures as well so it looks like you are looking at snippets of a video. All of these elements together create a moving story that could ultimately be told without text because the illustrations are so meaningful. Personally, I thought this book was very sweet and unique. The connection seen through the grandma and Sophia is obviously very strong and emphasizes family throughout the story. It tells a really nice love story while also keeping it enjoyable and understandable for children of all ages. I think it is a very relatable story because everyone can remember their first crush when they were younger and how it made them feel. Hearing the grandma give little Sophia advice about what to do by telling her about her and her grandpa when they were younger really helps the reader make connections. I think I would definitely have this book in my future classroom to emphasize feelings and family to my students. Overall, I really liked this book and what it portrayed through both text and illustrations.