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Patchwork-style watercolor patterns grace A Bottle of Happiness – Shelf Awareness

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A dashingly illustrated original fable

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“Two Americas” may be a modern coinage, but the idea of chasm-like social stratification has undergirded fairy tales and folklore for centuries. It’s also present in A Bottle of Happiness, Pippa Goodhart’s big-hearted homespun fable, which is set on a mountain: on one side the people are rich, while on the other people “grew and made just enough for them all to eat and wear if they shared things.” The funny part is, it’s the have-nots who have cornered the market on happiness.

This doesn’t prevent a young have-not named Pim from setting out in search of the new. When a vendor on the rich side of the mountain agrees to give the boy a piece of fruit in exchange for something that the man’s people don’t have, Pim suggests happiness as a fair swap. The vendor accepts, and Pim returns home, grabs a bottle and uses it to collect happiness in the form of people’s laughter and his uncle’s singing. But something gets lost in transit: when Pim opens the bottle for the fruit vendor, nothing comes out–at least at first.

Ehsan Abdollahi’s patchwork-style watercolor patterns grace A Bottle of Happiness‘s buildings, garments, plants and even animals. In a wily touch, Abdollahi reserves a curated palette for the rich people and a homey hodgepodge of color for the regular folk. Readers will note that while one side of the mountain may be more decorous, the other side seems to be having much more fun.

Nell Beram, freelance writer and YA author


  • Happy memory of storytime. A blog post by Pippa Goodhart
  • A Bottle of Happiness has been listed as an ‘Editor’s Choice’ in The Bookseller.
  • A Bottle of Happiness chosen for Empathy Day
  • A magical puppetry performance of A Bottle of Happiness is coming to Hay Festival! Link

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