Baby book review: My Heart Fills With Happiness by Monique Gray Smith, Illustrated by Julie Flett

Baby librarian Marian and her mommy Margaret review the happy happy board book My Heart Fills with Happiness by Monique Gray Smith, illustrated by Julie Flett.

Cover of My Heart Fills With Happiness by Smith

Marian’s review of My Heart Fills With Happiness

Marian reads My Heart Fills with HappinessI like this book because I like being happy. When Mommy and I read this today, she asked me, “What makes you happy?” and I answer fawn because fawn is my best friend. She goes everywhere with me and calms me down when I’m upset. She even sleeps with me. I try to take her in the bath but Mommy won’t let me, and that makes me feel unhappy.

My favorite page is the page that says “I sing.” It shows an adult playing guitar with a child. I know the word guitar! Knowing words make me feel very happy. So I’m very happy when I see the guitar! Another good page is when three children and a doggie smell bannock in the oven. I’ve never eaten bannock, but I know things cooked in the kitchen are yummy, so I know to make yum yum noises when I come to this page. Mommy told me bannock is a type of bread and bread is really really yummy so I’m happy to know the children are going to eat something really yummy.

Mommy likes the page that says “My heart fills with happiness when…I hold the hand of someone I love.” It shows a mommy holding her daughter’s hand. The daughter has pigtails like Tilly. I don’t think I want pigtails. No hair is fun. Anyway, Mommy always insists on holding my hand on this page, which I find somewhat tiresome. I can’t turn the page, Mommy, if you’re holding my hand!

Margaret’s review of My Heart Fills With Happiness

The illustrator, Julie Flett, is one of my favorite author/illustrators in children’s literature. She’s Cree-Metis Canadian and all her work features Indigenous American families. So far, we’ve read five of her books, but we still need to read a lot more. I’m especially excited about finding a copy of ZOE AND THE FAWN since Marian’s lovey is a stuffed fawn.

I’m not as familiar with Monique Gray Smith’s work, who is of Cree, Lakota, and Scottish descent, but I’m excited about reading more. I know she’s written quite a few, they just haven’t crossed my path yet. This book is written like a little poem: “My heart fills with happiness when…I see the face of someone I love. I smell bannock baking in the oven.” And so on. It’s a lovely book, and one I consider essential in a newborn’s library. I was surprised we hadn’t reviewed this one exclusively yet, though we did include it on a list of our favorite 2018 board books.

What fills your heart with happiness? For me:

My daughter’s look of delight when she opens a book.

Her little hand in mine (even if begrudgingly).

Seeing her dance when Daddy comes home.

Have you read any other books by Monique Gray Smith or Julie Flett? What did you think?

We also have this list of Native American picture books, if you want more books by Native American authors and illustrators.

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