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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Be Happy To Be You! is an animal picture book for children written by Diane Hull and illustrated by Jan Dolby. Baby Bird looked at the fish swimming in the river, and he knew he wanted to swim. When he told his mom, she reminded him that he had wings and could fly. Baby Bird loved watching the herd of horses as they ran and galloped in the field and wished he could run like they did. His mom answered that he could open his mouth and sing beautifully. Each time he watched other animals being who or what they were, Baby Bird wished he could do the same things. His mom patiently explained that he had his own gifts and skills, and said he should be happy to be himself. Baby Bird just didn’t get it until one day he came down with a bad cold. Suddenly, he lost the ability to do all the things that made him special, and he began to understand the wisdom in his mother’s words.
Diane Hull’s animal picture book for children, Be Happy To Be You!, is a gentle and disarming fable that teaches kids to recognize and be grateful for their own gifts and skills instead of envying others’ abilities. I loved watching as Baby Bird gets excited seeing the frogs, fish and horses, and could understand his frustration at not being able to do what they did so effortlessly. Jan Dolby’s illustrations make this little bird feel so real. The expressions on his face are priceless, and her line drawings are spare and elegant. As I enjoyed her artwork, I marveled at seeing how effortlessly she designed her animals, landscapes and Baby Bird. Her imaginative work is sure to inspire some creativity in just about every child who sees this book. Each drawing is an open invitation for kids to investigate their own drawing skills. Hull’s vocabulary is perfect for new beginners with just enough challenge to make it exciting and fun, and enough easy words to build confidence. Be Happy To Be You! is most highly recommended.