Themes: Love, Happiness, Lonliness, Family, Friendship, Sadness, Pets
Colin Thompson’s becoming one of my favourite picture book authors/illustrators, his stories often speak of flawed, hurt, weird, damaged characters, who after we scratch the surface shine with a vivid humanity, a beautiful simplicity. It’s these characters that are not normally portrayed in such books which seem to poke and prod at my imagination and heart-strings. One could possibly call this book a picture book for adults, but we could also say the same for the books “The Short but Incredibly Happy Life of Riley” or the story of “Norman and Brenda” by Colin.
The Big Book of Happy Sadness tells the beautiful story of a lonely boy George who lives with his Grandmother and his search to fill the void in his heart. At first he tries to fill the void by going places where he feels there are other things that are lonelier and sadder than he is…
“Most Friday afternoons on his way home from school, in that time before the weekend when lonely people realise just how lonely they are, George visited the dog shelter. And he always seemed to end up by the last cage in the last aisle. Even the concrete had given up down there. Hidden in the shade of a huge tree, where the sun never bothered to go, the concrete and the cages sat beneath a coat of verdigris.
The last cage was where the dogs no one wanted went for a final week before their journey to heaven. George felt at home there. In the dark gloom, he found a place where everything seemed lonelier than he was”
The story moves on from there, from the space where everything, event he concrete had given up to a place where joy, hope, friendship and happiness reigns supreme. Through meeting a dog, (Jeremy) in that dark and gloomy place George not only decides to turn his life around, but also that of his new found friend in Jeremy and his Grandmothers.
A touching and evocative story of finding hope in the darkest places, of meeting a friend at the lowest of spaces, of taking a chance on the loner, the damaged and finding their joy is also yours.