My Heart is Laughing
by Rose Lagercrantz, illustrated by Eva Ericksson
Gecko Press, 2014
Translated from Sweden
My Heart is Laughing is an early chapter book that gives the heart something to explore and discover.
We meet Dani, are introduced to the characters in her class, and learn the seat next to hers is saved for when her best friend, Ella, who moved away, returns. Everyone tells her Ella will not return, but Dani believes it could happen. On the surface, this story is about two girls who dream of the same boy and become jealous—and mean—when the boy pays attention to Dani. When the teacher sits Dani between the two girls, they start pinching her, hard. They get in a food fight until Dani accidentally squirts the teacher.
Dani’s father is called in and doesn’t understand why Dani would squirt the teacher; it is not like her. He tries to talk to Dani, but Dani is afraid. Finally she shows her dad the bruises from the pinches. He marches into the classroom and questions the two girls. Dani is asked to show her bruises and the class hushes. The two girls refuse to apologize. A visitor interrupts the incident—and it’s Ella! Miracle upon miracle she shows up for the day, just like Dani knew she might. Learn how Dani takes care of the situation and how Dani and Ella enjoy their one day together.
On the surface, this delightfully written, heartwarming story tells of how Dani deals with bullies, but underneath it’s about a girl who has faith that she will see her friend again. A story that will be read again and again.
I loved this book so much, I looked up My Happy Life, the first book of this series, and loved it equally. As The New York Times Book Review says: “If only all early chapter books were this beautifully conceived.”
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