When I first saw sweet Jerome, the red capped gnome, on the cover of author Kelly DiPucchio's latest picture book, I knew I had to meet him. The summer color and the mere idea of growing happiness simply made me, well... HAPPY!
In HOW TO GROW HAPPINESS (illustrated with vibrancy and charm by Matt Kaufenberg), Jerome gets a seed of happiness from his birdie buddy, Warble. But Jerome soon discovers that the seed doesn't seem to do much, and it certainly doesn't make him feel happy.
Luckily, Jerome's forest friends in the Garden of Wonder have a few ideas. Each contribution from the crew (a worm, a turtle, a fairy, and an unexpected robot, among others) helps the small black seed evolve from a motionless speck to something thrilling that's meant to be savored and, above all, shared.
DiPucchio's tales always are filled to the brim with heart, and HOW TO GROW HAPPINESS is no exception. In a culture of quick and instant gratification, this picture book illuminates the truth that friendship is a source of happiness, but to flourish, fruitful relationships require a lot of important things - light, nourishment, attention and... love.
Lately, it's been on my heart to grow a little happiness right in my own neighborhood - and for good reason: While working in our yard recently, getting it in ship-shape for Chicagoland's best season, my middle daughter asked: "Who lives there?" in refererence to the home kitty-corner to ours.
I was embarrassed to say... I didn't know. Since we moved in five years ago, I'd thrown waves to the retired couple living there, but I'd never gone over to introduce our family. I'd never bothered to learn their names. As always, children have a way of putting a spotlight on that which is most fundamental. Don't we all want to be known and called by our name?
Our neighborhood is comprised of essentially two groups - half young families and half empty nesters. Each month, it seems a new family with little kids moves in. I've often wondered how it feels to be in the shoes of the neighborhood's original home owners, watching young families waltz into the place you've lived for 30 years, without bothering to say hello.
So we decided to bring a little of Jerome's lesson to where we live...
We gathered up all the supplies needed to spread a little happiness...
(While using Elsa's PODD book to grow her vocabulary within the activity...)
Prepped some pots by dropping in stones for drainage...
Enriched the soil with banana peels and egg shells, just like Jerome and friends...
And, after planting some sunny marigolds, tied on a few packaged seeds - a teaser of the revelation that Jerome's adventure brings...
Then we delivered! While we were out and about, we bumped into two other neighbors we didn't know and had the best chats. It was such a memorable afternoon, for the girls and for momma too...
Happiness is an all-hands-on-deck effort, and the first step - the one within our power - is reaching out and showing each other love. Thanks for this great reminder, Kelly and Matt!
HOW TO GROW HAPPINESS: A JEROME THE GNOME ADVENTURE (Rodale Kids) can be purchased in bookstores nationwide, as well as online through the bookseller of your choice. You also can enter to WIN a copy (autographed by Kelly DiPucchio) through my Twitter page and blog!
*** Win HOW TO GROW HAPPINESS ***
1. "Like" this post (click the heart below)
2. Follow me (@anitraschulte) on Twitter
3. Retweet my pinned contest tweet by 6/22/18
(Submit a blog comment below and get a BONUS ENTRY!)
PS: Click HERE to read my interview with Kelly DiPucchio, which posted to the blog last year. She has tons of wonderful books - check them out!