Friday, April 26, 2013

My happy life by Rose Lagercrantz, illustrated by Eva Eriksson

When Dani can't sleep, she counts all the happy things that have happened to her in her life, ending with how excited she is to get her new schoolbag and go to school for the first time. But when she gets there, she starts to get worried. Will she like it? Will she have friends? Happily, after a few days she meets Ella. Ella is her very best friend and they are together through everything, even when they fight.

Then Ella moves away. Dani knows about loss - her mother died a long time ago - but she just can't handle Ella's loss. She's lonely and sad and she can't stop crying. Slowly, she starts to have happy times again. She makes new friends, although none are as close as Ella. She accidentally hurts another little boy and feels better after she apologizes. Her dad gets her two hamsters and they cheer her up even more. Best of all, she gets a letter from Ella and they are going to visit her!

This simple chapter book perfectly captures the the mindset of a young child, dealing with changes, loss, and friendship for the first time. Each page has a few simple sentences that perfectly capture Dani's feelings "The bandage that her teacher put on didn't help. It was very small and kept falling off. Dani kept crying. She cried because it hurt. She cried because Ella had moved." Julia Marshall, the translator, is a new name to me but she did an excellent job capturing the essential feeling of the language and experiences.

I've always been a fan of Eva Eriksson's illustrations and her snub-nosed little boys and girls are perfect for this story. When Dani is happy her whole face lights up. When she's sad her misery is apparent in every line of her body. The simple line drawings are the perfect accompaniment to this story.

Verdict: This won't appeal to every child - it's too long for most beginning readers and older readers won't be interested in a story about such a young child - but sensitive children who are good readers will find this a story to treasure.

ISBN: 9781877579356; Published 2013 by Gecko Press; Borrowed from another library in my consortium; Added to my order list


Julia said...

Lovely review, thank you Jennifer! I'm the translator - of just a few Swedish children's books that I really like, that we then publish at Gecko Press. We really like Eva Eriksson's illustrations too. We've got a new book about Dani planned for next year and another book by Eva also - a picture book.

Jennifer said...

Nice to meet you! Swedish children's literature is a special interest of mine and I learned the language in grad school just so I could read them in the original language, although I never got good enough to translate, a private little dream of mine. I do know enough to pick up the special...cadence I guess? that Swedish children's books seem to have and not all translators pick up. I thought you did a lovely job (-:)