Synopses & Reviews
Clear, strong lines and radiant colors that seem to smile at the reader characterize Mies van Hout’s drawings. In Happy, Mies shows all the emotions a young child encounters. Each double page spread is devoted to one fish, showing a particular emotion with its name in lettering that expresses the same feeling. Swim into Happy where the dazzling fish sparkle against the dark background and let the images spark laughter and empathy.
"Van Hout's (The Child Cruncher) catalogue of emotions is dead simple: an emotion word ('shy,' 'surprised,' 'proud') appears on one page, and a drawing of a fish expressing that emotion is shown on the other. But what fish! Scrawled like children's doodles or cartoons in sizzling lines of scarlet, orange, aqua, and fuchsia, each one swims alone in an ink-black sea, reacting to experiences readers can only guess at. The emotion words, one per spread, are handwritten with childlike care over pages scribbled with color, and are just as suggestive of each emotion as the fish are. 'Curious,' a canary-colored fish, glides goggle-eyed toward something off-page. On the opposing page, the letters that spell 'curious' are all different colors, like a cheerful ransom note. The 'Nervous' fish is long, thin, and miserable-looking, outlined in pale, tremulous lines. 'Bored' is a flounder, almost cross-eyed with ennui. There's no particular story arc, or even a story to be found within each drawing it's a delightful amuse-bouche of a book, and an aquatic introduction to everyday emotions. Ages 2 up. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal on Brave Ben
‘the illustrations truly bring the story to life. Irresistibly detailed cartoon characters in black outlines pop out of the fuzzy, rich-toned background paintings, creating pages that readers will want to pore over. ...’
"A delightful amuse-bouche of a book." --Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Along with the azure-and-sky-blue ovoid fish at the end, readers will pronounce themselves, in yellow, white and green letters, "delighted." --Kirkus
New York Times Book Review
Mies van Hout’s “Happy” is a tour de force of underwater awesomeness and emotion, showcasing what an artist can do with a few pastels, black paper and something fundamental to express. I want to hug it and buy a copy for every shorty on my list...On the last page, a gloriously plump whalelike creature surges upward, ending the book with a surprising sense of closure: “delighted.” No reader could feel otherwise.
About the Author
Mies van Hout (1962) studied at the Arts Academy in Groningen, where she majored in graphic design. She has been working as a freelance illustrator and graphic designer since 1989. Over the years, she illustrated quite a lot of children's books. Her illustrations are cheerful and witty, painted skillfully and distinctly.
For Lemniscaat USA, Mies van Hout illustrated Brave Ben, The Child Cruncher, Lovey and Dovey and Mine!