13 May 2015

{Renee Reviews} - When I Am Happiest

Most of you who have followed along here for a while know that I have three daughters. They are all now in school and my eldest two in particular seem to ebb and flow with their enthusiasm for reading. It is so strange for me to see this since I have always been a bookworm and even though I want my daughters to feel the same way about reading as me, I know it is unwise to push them into something which can make them switch off altogether. My youngest daughter, Aimee, really turned a corner when she started school towards the end of last year. Never have I been more excited to see her proudly show me her reading book for that particular day and actually want to sit down and read it to me. This is what I want to encourage, the enjoyment of reading, of having that interest in plot development and how stories can transport us to a different time and place or echo parts of our own lives. I have seen such a change in Aimee's enthusiasm for reading and hope it will continue to grow. I still hope that my eldest children will want to pick up a book and read for enjoyment, but it's a work in progress for them and with Aimee at an emergent reader level, at least this way, I can still get to read aloud to them all at bedtime. In my hope to encourage my children's love of reading for pleasure, I have been lucky enough to partner with Gecko Press. They are a boutique publishing house here in Wellington and their books are very distinctive because of their beautiful covers that often have quirky illustrations. The books they publish are generally English translations of award-winning overseas titles, but there are a number of New Zealand authors and illustrators amongst them as well, including Joy Cowley, Margaret Mahy, Elizabeth Knox and Jack Lasenby. Importantly to me as a parent, the books seem to intrigue children to pick them up in the first place which is often the biggest hurdle. From time to time, Gecko Press will send our family books for us to enjoy and we will select from them the ones we would like to review. We are not compensated in any other manner and all views expressed are mine and those of my daughters.

'When I Am Happiest' by Swedish author Rose Lagercrantz is one in a series of three books about a young girl called Dani. The story contains black and white illustrations by Eva Eriksson and short chapters, which is a key factor to help a child move on from picture books, but who may not be quite ready to tackle longer novels. 'When I Am Happiest' is a tale based on camaraderie, family and love which is brought to the fore when Dani's dad is seriously injured in a road accident. I wondered how my sensitive child would respond to this event, but it led to some good discussion about mortality and what would happen if something happened to me or her dad and also the importance of searching for the good in the bad.

I thought you might like to read Renee's thoughts since she is the book's target audience. She writes:

I think it's a very extraordinary and purrrfect book. I enjoyed the story because it has a mixture of emotions. I felt sad when the father got run over. I laughed at the riddle How many eyes does a herring have? Please comment if you think you know the answer. Anyway, I think it's a good book for 7 year olds and up. It has lots of nice pencil illustrations.

Reading level: 5-7
RRP: $19.99
Due for release in July 2015

Thank you Gecko Press for sending us a copy to review. Book images taken from the Gecko Press website. Feel free to take a guess at Renee's riddle. There are no prizes, but you will make a 7 year old's day.


  1. Three? One on each side and one in the name? xx

    1. Hi Amy, sorry that answer is incorrect. Would you like to try again?

  2. This sounds great - thanks for the review Leanne and Renee! I am going to tell my girls about it and see if we can get it out from the Library. As for the riddle... I am going to go with... 2 :)

  3. Thank you for your guesses, Leonie and Angela. The answer is 1 - there is only one 'i' in herring.

  4. One, the other vowel is an "e".