Conversations around mental health are more prevalent than ever and are becoming more commonplace in primary schools and this is a good thing. Eoin Colfer takes a sensitive and difficult subject, wraps into a humorous story, and has struck the perfect balance between entertaining and educating.
Anna Liza’s mum has the best job in the world, she gets to make sad people happy again. Anna Liza wants to help people find their happy too but she’ll have to wait until she is older before she can officially do it. For the time being she operates the Happy Practice out of her mum’s waiting room. With magazines, drinks, songs, jokes and roller-skates she has everything she needs to make people happy again…
An important and heart-warming story that explores how children are affected by a parent suffering with mental health issues. All of the parents in the story are feeling sad, the term depression is never used. Whilst Anna Liza’s mum speaks to the adults, Anna Liza ‘treats’ the children in the room displaying kindness and empathy. She has all sorts of crazy treatment ideas and madcap plans and it is after a conversation with a boy named Edward that she initiates her craziest plan yet. Edward’s dad feels that his life isn’t going anywhere and Anna Liza has the perfect plan involving a pair of roller-skates and a gentle push down the stairs. What could have ended with a lawsuit ends with dad finding his happy and reconnecting with his son. Whilst mental health problems are never solved this easily, Anna Liza has a wonderful attitude and just wants to do her bit to help. And whilst the book won’t solve any mental health problems it will certainly bring a smile to plenty of faces and will have people feeling happy if only for a moment.
Featuring delightful illustrations throughout, this is another lovely read for newly independent readers in the ‘Little Gems’ series by the brilliant Barrington Stoke. Added extras come in the form of Anna Liza’s favourite jokes and a maze that can be found on the inside front and back covers.
Recommended for 5+.