Henkes, K. (2005). So Happy! China: Greenwillow Books.
So Happy! Shares the story of a magic seed, a little rabbit and a little boy and the day that their stories intertwine when the rain arrives. With a Southwestern setting, this story has no clear setting in time. The characters dress in traditional Mexican attire.
The illustrations are done by (the very successful) Anita Lobel. Her use of colors, shapes, and angles is impressive to capture desert setting.
My one complaint about this book is the title. While the idea of being "so happy" does enter into the text, I feel like Henkes and his editor could have thought of a better title for the book. As it is, I don't think the title captures the actual sentiment of the story.
So Happy! Could be used to describe the way that animals, plants and the environment are dependent upon one another. A teacher could focus on gardening, weather patterns or the way that seeds grow into plants (which could then be paired with the long term assignment of trying to have each student grow their own plant in their own pot that they painted. (What? Did I have to do that assignment as a child? Yes, yes I did. And my friends and I competed to see who's plant grew the fastest.)
A teacher could enter a tentative discussion on the idea of magical realism, not so much as a genre, but in terms of seeing magic in nature and in the environment. The ability for a seed to grow is described as being a certain type of magic.
The boy featured in the story shows an interest in the architecture of bridges, so this book could hold special appeal to a child with similar interests.
Quotes of Note:
"Someone had planted a magic seed.
The sun shone down,
but there was no rain,
so the seed didn't grow."
"The seed was thirsty.
The rabbit was lost.
The boy was bored. Then..."