Review: Happy Sad

When Toby finds a mermaid stranded in a rockpool, he wants to help, so takes her to stay with his family. 

He does everything he can to make sure that she feels at home, from giving her the paddling pool (even adding salt to the water) to singing to her and rocking her to sleep – but however hard he tries, it is never enough to make her completely happy, she’s always a little bit sad too. 

As their friendship deepens, Toby realises that the secret to the mermaid’s happiness may lie elsewhere. But his own feelings have become entangled with hers, and he realises that her fate will affect his own happiness too.

This is a beautifully simple story about conflicting emotions. It shows us that it is possible to feel happy and sad in the same moment – and it’s such a lovely, accessible way to help little ones understand that this feeling is a normal part of life. 

Augusta Kirkwood’s illustrations capture the mood of the story beautiful, and they are so full of movement that you can almost feel the waves. Our favourite is the one where Toby and his mermaid friend play under the sea together. 

We’ve just moved home, so this story really resonated with the little Roaring Readers, who have been struggling with their own Happy Sad feelings too – they’re enjoying making new friends and trying new things, but missing family and familiar routines – so we loved reading a book that helped us to make sense of that. 

Our seven-year-old summed it up: “Everyone’s Happy-Sad sometimes, and that’s OK.”

Happy Sad, by Pippa Goodhart and Augusta Kirkwood (Little Door Books)

  • This review is part of the blog tour for Happy Sad. Look out for more reviews and content from other bloggers on the tour via @littledoorbooks on twitter.

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