Children can explore the value of community with A Bottle of Happiness
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Values: Joy, Friendship, Equality and Community…
This is a fable which is all about valuing happiness over material goods and, as the name suggests, sings with joy from start to finish!
In this story, there are two sides of a mountain. On one side, there was a rich community who mined for jewels and had plentiful crops. On the other side of the mountain though, the soil was poor and didn’t produce many crops; the people had just enough to live off if they shared. However, they loved telling and sharing stories and they lived happy lives together.
One day, Pim and his dog Tiddle decide to visit the other side of the mountain. When they see the market brimming with luxurious goods, they cannot believe their eyes! They have no money to buy anything but offers to bring happiness from the village in exchange for goods. Pim returns home and collects laughter in a bottle; some magic and love slip in too and Pim only sees this as an advantage!
When he takes his bottle of happiness to the rich village, he opens it and… silence! No laughter comes flooding out, but Pim uses his intuition. He sings and encourages the villages to dance, which they do. Soon, they are all singing, dancing, laughing and hugging! They were even more amazed to discover that although Pim’s people had given away a bottle of happiness, they still had plenty more!
This is such an uplifting story about the Value of joy. The fable reminds children that having material possessions may not make you the happiest person and that laughing and enjoying being with friends/family will bring much more happiness. It is a simple message, but told in a totally captivating way and enhanced by the beautiful Iranian-inspired illustrations by Ehsan Abdollahi. Maybe it would be good to ask children what they would bottle if they had to try and capture joy and happiness. I’m sure there is lovely artwork that could come from this activity!
Secondly, this is a story with a focus on friendship. Pim unites two sides of a mountain which have lived separately for what the reader can assume has been a very long time. In the end, it doesn’t matter which side of the mountain has more money, the people enjoy being together and having fun. This could be a really interesting circle time or assembly about what makes a good friend. There are plenty of examples in films where characters want to be in with the ‘popular’ crowd only to discover they are unhappy in this situation.
Thirdly, I would explore the Value of equality. Pim isn’t jealous when he visits the marketplace on the wealthy side of the mountain as he realises his village also has advantages. He offers to exchange goods for happiness and realises there isn’t a sense that what he has to offer is inferior – the people are genuinely interested in the bottle of happiness. And of course, the moral of the story is that measuring happiness isn’t calculated by the amount of food you have, the amount of toys you have or the cost of your clothes. This is a really good opportunity to discuss some stereotypes with children; we have all heard children who have made negative remarks about those who live on the streets or in poverty. Companies like Lyfta are really good at showing children life all around the world and celebrating diversity. They help challenge children’s assumptions and recognise joy and happiness in all situations.
It could also be useful to explore the Value of community through this book. What makes a community? What makes a community happy? What is special about your community? In this story, Pim and his village are known for their laughter, storytelling, dancing and love. Is this what makes a good community?
There are many more Values you could explore with this fable – pride, self-belief, love, respect etc… If you fancy getting yourself a copy of this book for home or school, visit the Tiny Owl website. They have a wealth of unusual and inspiring books for all ages! Or you can find their book on the Blackwell’s website.
- A Bottle of Happiness among the best books of the year by the Sunday Times. Link
- TWO Tiny Owl titles nominated for UK’s most prestigious children’s book award! Link
- A Bottle of Happiness is utterly inspirational! – James Mayhew for BookTrust. Link
- A Bottle of Happiness has been listed as an ‘Editor’s Choice’ in The Bookseller.
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