Title: When I Am Happiest
Author: Rose Lagercrantz
Illustrator: Eva Eriksson
Publisher: Gecko Press
Summary: On the second to the last day of school, Dani is finishing her story. She has just finished writing “The last time I was happiest” when she gets called out of the classroom by the teacher. She tells Dani that her father had been hit by a car and is in the hospital. Dani’s grandmother comes to pick her up. They go to Dani’s house to get her brand-new last day of school dress, her cat, and her hamsters. Then they go to Grandma’s house. Dani is so sad, she can’t remember the last time she was happy. She thinks about her mother’s death when she was a baby and worries that her father will die too. She finally convinces her Grandpa to take her to the hospital to see her dad. Even though he is laying a bed with tubes stuck in him and fast asleep, Dani is brave. She goes up to him and yells that he must wake up. And he does, he says her name and calls her ‘amore’, then closes his eyes and goes back to sleep. The nurse says that’s a wonderful thing that he woke up for even a minute. Back at Grandma’s house, her best friend Ella calls her. Ella invites her to spend the summer with her on the island. Grandpa says she should go because Dad will get better faster if he knows that she is happy and he doesn’t have to worry about her. So Dani agrees to go. Now she is so happy that she knows how to finish the story she was working on at school.
Literary Merit: Deals with hard subjects like death and loss in a way young readers can appreciate.
Kid Appeal: Childlike language and real emotions told by the main character herself, help children address a difficult subject and look for the bright side of bad situations.
Disclaimer: This book was nominated for the 2015 CYBILS Award in the Early Chapter Book category. This review is shared as part of the Round One Judging. It is solely my own opinion and not influenced by any other parties.