Laura Baker and Angie Rozelaar, The Colour of Happy

Hodder, 2019, ISBN 978-1-4493-967-5

A little boy walks along with his dog. He sees a beautiful dandelion seedhead. His eyes light up and the pale blue background of the first double page spread changes to yellow on the second. 'Yellow is for happy when I spot a special thing.' Holding it in his hand, he hops and skips. But then the wind blows his treasure away. Now the background colour is a deep dark blue to match his sadness. By the next page it's red. 'Red is for my anger when I have to watch it go.' It's green for envy when he realises someone else now has his special thing, then grey with sorrow. The other child is friendly though. She hands the seedhead to him, but the wind catches the it again and it soars into the air. 'Gold is for the hope I feel chasing it once more.' The children play together as they try to reach it. At last he gets it back. Purple is for pride, and orange is for excitement. Finally 'And pink is for the love I have, giving my gift to you.' We see his mother smiling as he presents her with the seedhead.

By visualising different states of mind through its use of colour, The Colour of Happy provides a simple way for young children to recognise different moods, their own and other people's, and to see that even though situations can feel difficult at times, they can change for the better. The values of friendship and sharing come through strongly. The clear, uncomplicated rhyming and rhythmical text, with just a few words on each page, is very well complemented by the bold and expressive illustrations. There are some lovely subtle details in the pictures. The dog's emotional responses on each page echo those of the boy. The seedhead, which is never referred to as anything other than 'the special thing', is exquisite when the boy first sees it. On each page more seeds disappear. By the time it reaches the boy's mother it is dilapidated, with just three seeds left, a fact that is important to neither of them. This is an affirming and helpful book that will support wellbeing, empathy and mindfulness, and provide a valuable starting point for useful and important discussions, one-to-one or with groups.