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* That Happiness Thing: A Hometown Fable* is a children’s book that poses the age-old question, “What is happiness?” Which is what a 10-year-old boy from a small California town wants to know. It’s 1958. Christmas is just around the corner. His family isn’t happy and he doesn’t know why. So he sets out to explore his home town and find out. With a little help from an elderly gentleman and a magical snow globe, he discovers that true happiness isn’t about having the most of everything, but making the most of everything you have. When his journey is finally complete, he learns that That Happiness Thing is home and family.
* That Happiness Thing* is a bit of a hybrid, with elements of a children’s picture book and chapter book. I envision it as an illustrated short story for children and adults, similar to Nate the Great. Its look and feel is not unlike The Christmas Wish by Lori Evert and Per Breiehagen, Knuffle Bunny Free by Mo Willems, and The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg.
Although I conceived and designed it as a children’s picture book aimed at 5 to 10-year-olds, the real audience is Baby Boomer parents and grandparents, who will appreciate the nostalgia and will share it with their children and grandchildren. I also see older children (8 to 10) reading it on their own.
I have included a map tracing the protagonist’s route. I plan to partner with the local museum to conduct tours during the holidays that would follow the same journey. We would read the story and show pictures of what the locations looked like back in 1958.
I will also be giving away a miniature snow globe, similar to what Chris Van Allsburg did with the silver bell in The Polar Express.
Although the story is very specific to one small town, I believe it could be easily tailored to any town in the country.