Happy Sad by Pippa Goodhart, illustrated by Augusta Kirkwood

Published by Little Door

Publication date – 6 June 2022

Source – review copy

Can you be happy and sad at the same time? When Toby finds a mermaid stranded in a rock pool on the beach he takes her home and tries to cheer her up with songs, stories and a paddling pool full of bubbles. For a while Toby and the mermaid have fun but the more the mermaid sees the love Toby and his family have for each other the more she misses her own family and home. A story about feelings, love, happiness and letting go.

When Toby finds a little mermaid trapped in a rock pool he takes her home. He tries to make her happy by filling his paddling pool up with water, asking her how she feels. But the mermaid is happy sad and Toby tries his best to make his new friend happy.

The illustrations are lovely, with the deep blues, greens and splashes of colour to represent the ocean and the yellows, golds and oranges of the land jumping off the pages. There’s even a little red crab to spot on the different pages.

Toby tries his best to make his new friend happy. He fetches her toys when she misses her friends, bring his collection of shells when she misses the sea and offers her his family when she misses hers. But he comes to realise that the best thing he can do for her is to take her back to the ocean.

Each time Toby tries to help the mermaid she tells him she is “happy sad”. This is a great way of describing the emotion of enjoying things or being happy about part of a situation but also being sad about the things you are missing.

The story helps children understand that as much as it is important to be kind and to try and help people be happy, sometimes understanding why they may be sad is just as important. Toby understands how the mermaid feels when he thinks of leaving his family behind.

This is a lovely little tale, one that will help children understand empathy and the importance of putting others first sometimes.


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