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So Happy! Hardcover – February 15, 2005
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From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 1–Original and fresh, Henkes's latest surprise is a collaboration with Lobel, who provides watercolor and gouache illustrations in a style reminiscent of Van Gogh. Set in the Southwest, this circular story about a seed, a rabbit, and a boy is reinforced by the rounded forms in the artist's highly textured scenes. The moon, the sun, the glow enveloping the seed and the child, the frenetic lines of motion surrounding the rabbit and the arc of the rainbow all serve to reinforce the cycles of life that are the subject of this drama. The just-planted seed doesn't grow, the rabbit (who has hopped over the narrow part of a creek) is lost, and the boy is bored–until it rains. Catalyst for all that follows, the storm swells the river; thus, the rabbit is prevented from retracing his steps, the boy is inspired to build a bridge from sticks, the hibiscus is nourished, and the rabbit has a way to return home. The minimal text is paired with one-page scenes, full spreads, and triple panels as dictated by the pace of the plot. In the end, the seed planted by the mother becomes a present from her son; the family portrait depicts the woman finding a spot for the bloom and father and child preparing to read a book on bridges. A satisfying look at the interplay of nature, time, and love.–Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
*Starred Review* Gr. 1-3. Three components--a "magic" amaryllis seed, a lost rabbit, and a restless boy--intertwine in this powerful collaboration between two acclaimed author-illustrators. Henkes contributes text stripped gracefully to essentials: "There was no rain, so the seed didn't grow"; the little rabbit, exploring, "wandered and wandered until it didn't know where it was"; and the boy could "think of nothing to do, so he did just that." Then "the rain came." The drenching water strands the rabbit on the wrong side of a storm-swollen creek, nourishes the seed that blooms into a bright gift for the boy's mother, and inspires the boy to construct a bridge that carries bunny home. Lobel's vigorous artwork, a riot of color that pays homage to Van Gogh, locates events in a sun-toasted, south-of-the-border landscape, and captures the rhythm of Henkes' splitting, braided narratives in triptychs alternating with cohesive scenes. For readers slightly older than those targeted by Henkes' Kitten's First Full Moon [BKL F 15 04] or Lobel's One Lighthouse, One Moon (2000), this deceptively simple drama imparts a reassuring sense that, at least sometimes, the seemingly disparate incidents of life incline toward universally beneficial, "so happy" convergence. Jennifer Mattson
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The story, therefore seems to be at a standstill. But things change when it rains and the creek gets wider, preventing the rabbit from crossing it and the boy gets an idea. As the sun shines, the seed becomes a plant and the boy gathers sticks to make a bridge. Soon a rainbow appears and the bridge is complete, allowing the rabbit to cross the creek and go home to its family. The flower becomes ready to be given as a gift to the boy's mother and the story ends with the indication that the cycle of life, subtle as it may be at times, will continue.
The way the three stories come together shows how things that seem to share nothing in common can unify under a common cause. Can life be interpreted as a series of coincidences? This serendipitous story seems to say so. If the story doesn't appeal to you as much, the artwork, reminiscent of Van Gogh's style, certainly will.
The seed is thirsty
The rabbit is lost
The boy is bored.
Three separate stories unspool on the same pages, seemingly unlinked until the end: The boy busies himself and in the process saves the rabbit and finds a magic flower grown from the seed.
In a press release, Henkes said he kept the lines spare to allow Lobel room to breath. It was Lobel who decided to set the story in the parched southwest with a Mexican family, invent a father whose departure creates the boy's sour mood, and visually weave the three threads into a unified whole.
She uses watercolors in a warm Mexican palette and deep earth tones to conjure up the boy's narrow world: his house, a sudden storm, an engorged creek and the rabbit's frantic scrambling in the brush.
For adults, this is a lesson on how an author let go of his work so an artist could transform it in unexpected ways. For kids, it's a fun romp about a rainy day.