Saturday, March 27, 2021

WSJ review!

 Paying attention to the small things in life has become something of a national pastime during the pandemic. Bruce Handy honors the quiet fluctuations of childhood days in “The Happiness of a Dog With a Ball in Its Mouth” (Enchanted Lion, 56 pages, $18.95), a picture book with beguiling colored-pencil illustrations by Hyewon Yum. The book toggles back and forth between moments: “The indignity of a cut” on a skinned knee gives way to the satisfying “happiness of a scab.” A little later, we see a child splayed out on a chair, face upturned with exasperation and ennui: “The boredom of nothing to do.” On the facing page, the same child lies spread-eagled and beatific on a picnic blanket: “The happiness of nothing to do.” In topic and rhythm this wonderful book brings to mind Ruth Krauss’s 1952 classic, “A Hole Is to Dig,” illustrated with sturdy, tumbling little children by the young Maurice Sendak. But “The Happiness of a Dog With a Ball in Its Mouth” has a restful and contemplative quality that makes it, this year especially, feel like just the thing for 3- to 8-year-olds and their families.

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