I'm the Happiest
written and illustrated by Anna Shuttlewood
2016 (QEB Publishing)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher
Raccoon started jumping and clapping his hands and dancing his happiest dance.
Raccoon must have Pharrell as his ringtone. While the other animals are trying to outshine each other out of jealousy, Raccoon declares how joyful he is for each animal that promotes themselves. The game of Top This starts with Giraffe. With his head way above the others, he announces that he is the tallest and therefore the most valuable. Like he had anything to do with being tall. Unfortunately, most of the other animals take the bait and stretch as high as they can. This only leaves them defeated and a little bitter, but Raccoon blazes a different trail. He tells Giraffe how happy he is that his friend is so tall. In his joy, Raccoon bounds around like he won a gold medal. Porcupine pipes up next and announces himself the champion of being spiky. The other animals attempt to be spiky but to no avail. Again, they are left to wallow in a lake of envy. Not Raccoon. He is incredibly happy for his neighbor and continues to express enormous delight in movement. What follows is a cavalcade of self-congratulation among the animals with Raccoon being happy for all of them. What the reader sees is Raccoon being the most civil among them. The animals soon get the message that Raccoon is sending through his behavior, and they abandon their promotion of themselves and get on the happy train for each other.
Humility is not a bad character trait to practice. There is nothing wrong with showing pride, but I think there needs to be an equal dose of cheering for others. It can't always be about you, which can be a difficult lesson for a youngster (or an adult). With adorable illustrations and a good lesson, I'm the Happiest would be a great addition to your batch of beginning of the year books which serve to set the tone for the rest of the year.