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Book Information:

Title:  Double Happiness

Author:  Nancy Tupper Ling

Illustrator:  Alina Chau

Publisher:  Chronicle Books

Publication Date:  2015

ISBN: 978-1-4521-2918-1

Summary:  Told in verse, a Chinese-American girl and her little brother protest the idea of moving, until their grandmother teaches them a special trick to make the change easier.

*Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest opinion from the book distributor Rain Coast Books.  I only post reviews of books I truly love and think you might love too.  Read about my full Disclosure Policy here.


First drawn in by the whimsical watercolour style of Alina Chau, the illustrator, Double Happiness by Nancy Tupper Ling has more than double the reasons why her new book should be included in any school or home diverse book collection.  Change is hard for any child and moving from one city to another can create anxiety about the upcoming move.  Double Happiness tells us the story of Gracie and Jake and how they must adjust moving to a new city.  It is their grandmother that provides them with a trick called the Happiness Box.  As they make their journey they are to collect little items that make them happy and help them feel less anxious about the move.

What makes this book awesome?  First, I love how the author wrote in verse to tell us the story.  Each page begins with a new poem with an English title as well as a in Chinese.  For example, it begins with

The Move

I won’t go!

I won’t move


from our city house

by the trolley tracks,


from Nai Nai,

Auntie Su,

and Uncle Woo.


we fly away-

and I don’t want to go!

You can see the Chinese characters above the English title.
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We can clearly tell how Gracie feels about this move and leaving her important people behind her.  Ling’s poetry is rich in sensory detail as she beautifully weaves each poem to describe the children’s journey to their new home.

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Gracie and Jake’s grandmother provide each child with what she calls a Happiness Box to take with them to ease their anxiety.  As they travel from their city to their new one they add little treasures to the box.  Your child doesn’t need to be moving to have a happiness box or joy box for those times they are feeling a little sad or anxious.  The one below is one my daughter painted herself.

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The box my daughter is painting is one from Melissa and Doug crafts, but I have seen lots of wood boxes at the local dollar store that would work just as well.  This is an important aspect as it allows the child to make it their own.  Below we see Gracie and Jake painting their happiness boxes at the end of the book.

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The second reason I loved this book is the multicultural aspect of the book.  The book is about a Chinese-American family and the Chinese language is included as well as many cultural symbols.

The third reason I love this book is the watercolour illustrations from Alina Chau.  Whimsical and creative with the depiction of Jake’s dragon and of course joyous and bright as the pair realize that happiness can be found in their new home.  I reviewed another book illustrated by Alina Chau last year. You can see that post here: The Year of the Sheep.   I love Chau’s gorgeous watercolour work in these picture books and will definitely look for more from her.  If you would love to learn more about her visit her at her site.


 And the fourth reason I love this book is that it can be the perfect companion to help children discuss and open up about change in their life whether it is a big move across the country or maybe just a move to a new class, or starting something new.

So there you have it, double the reasons to love this book.


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Bonnie Dani

Educator, Writer, Blogger, Mom

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