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My Heart Fills With Happiness

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The sun on your face. The smell of warm bannock baking in the oven. Holding the hand of someone you love. What fills your heart with happiness? This beautiful board book, with illustrations from celebrated artist Julie Flett, serves as a reminder for little ones and adults alike to reflect on and cherish the moments in life that bring us joy.

International speaker and award-winning author Monique Gray Smith wrote My Heart Fills with Happiness to support the wellness of Indigenous children and families, and to encourage young children to reflect on what makes them happy.

24 pages, Board Book

First published March 1, 2016

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Monique Gray Smith

17 books145 followers

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5 stars
649 (43%)
4 stars
586 (39%)
3 stars
208 (14%)
2 stars
35 (2%)
1 star
7 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 277 reviews
Profile Image for Prabhjot Kaur.
1,046 reviews148 followers
January 6, 2021
My heart fills with happiness is an endearing read. It is full of simple yet lovely text with beautiful illustrations. The illustrations celebrate Indigenous people and their culture and the text gives examples of different things that kids can relate to.

My heart fills with happiness when I read.
What fills YOUR heart with happiness?

4 stars

Profile Image for Agnė.
752 reviews58 followers
October 11, 2017
My Heart Fills With Happiness is a warm and cozy board book that evokes happy memories and encourages the readers to appreciate the little joys in life, such as “see[ing] the face” or “hold[ing] the hand of someone [you] love,” “feel[ing] the sun dancing on [your] cheeks,” or “walk[ing] barefoot on the grass.”

Julie Flett’s signature bold illustrations, which depict loving Native American families, are cheerful and comforting, further filling the readers’ hearts with warm feelings:

However, I had to look up what “bannock” is (it is a type of bread common in Native American cuisine), which broke the spell a little. But since both the author and the illustrator have Native American ancestry, the use of the term makes a perfect sense. An authentic story does not need to explain the culture it represents.
Profile Image for La Coccinelle.
2,244 reviews3,563 followers
September 25, 2018
This is the second picture book I've read by this author, the first being You Hold Me Up, which I didn't really like much. I think the pictures in this one were a lot better, helping to illustrate the tender moments in the book. There's really no story, just a collection of happy thoughts. It reads almost like a child's gratitude journal.

There's not much in the way of text (so read-out-loud storytime will be very short), but the pictures are nice to look at and illustrate some cultural traditions that many kids might not know much about.

Overall, it's a cute little book, with a nice message and simple pictures. I'd recommend this one over You Hold Me Up for the illustrations alone.
Profile Image for Literary Redhead.
1,620 reviews492 followers
June 24, 2019
Oh how I ❤️ MY HEART FILLS WITH HAPPINESS! The illustrations are exquisite, the text so sweet, and I found my whole being filling with peace. A wonderful book to read aloud to young children. Will bring a smile to all! 5/5

Thanks to Orca Book Publishers and NetGalley for the review copy, in exchange for my honest opinions.

#NiSâkaskinehMîyawâtenNitehOhcih #NetGalley
Profile Image for Kathryn.
4,240 reviews
October 28, 2020
That cover art filled me with happiness and the rest of the book is just as sweet and endearing. I love that the illustrations beautifully depict a modern Native American family but the words will resonate with almost everyone showing how universal are many of these feelings of happiness. I think it is only the line "I smell bannock baking in the oven" that may not be familiar to many children (but, of course, one can easily relate to the smell of something delicious cooking) and most of the expressions of a child's happiness are along the lines of I am happy: "when I see the face of someone I love" and "when I sing" and "I listen to stories" I think children naturally tend to see that we are all more alike than we are different, and I love to see stories like this that reflect that. I love that the ending asks the reader, "What fills YOUR heart with happiness?" A wonderful reminder to cultivate gratitude in our daily lives.
Profile Image for Cheryl .
9,250 reviews398 followers
May 14, 2017
Gorgeous. Sure to be effective. (Assuming I didn't read a defective copy or the board book is different) I appreciate the repetition of the penultimate page, in which the reader is asked to check in with her own heart. The words are almost unnecessary, as the pictures are so graceful and warm. I love that it depicts Native families but is universal in appeal. Highly recommended to families with tots, to shelters and counselors, to everyone.
Profile Image for Abigail.
7,110 reviews186 followers
March 8, 2020
"My heart fills with happiness when... I see the face of someone I love." So begins the simple narrative of this sweet board-book celebration of happiness, and the things in a child's life that foster it. From the smell of bannock baking in the oven to the feeling of the sun on one's cheeks, from dancing to drumming, the experiences which produce happiness are those which connect us to the world around us, and to the people closest to us...

My Heart Fills With Happiness is the first book I have picked up from Canadian author Monique Gray Smith, described on her website as a woman of mixed First Nations (Lakota and Cree) and European (Scottish) descent. I didn't really know anything about the author before picking it up, but being a great admirer of the illustrator, Metis artist Julie Flett, I requested it from the library. I'm glad I did, even though I don't read a great many board books, as I thought it was a lovely little volume. The artwork is (not surprisingly) beautiful, with a deep, satisfying color palette, and many appealing stylized scenes. I think my favorite was the one of the adult male drummer, with a child on his lap, although the scene with the girl twirling in her dress (as seen on the cover) was also quite charming. The cultural context here is First Nations/Native American, with reference to things like bannock - a bread I had always associated with Scotland, but which is also apparently a staple of the indigenous Canadian diet - and drumming. The emotional resonance, on the other hand, with references to such things as holding a loved one's hand, is universal. Recommended to fellow Julie Flett fans, to those looking for children's books with a First Nations context, and to anyone looking for board books addressing happiness and love in a young child's life.
Profile Image for Jillian Heise.
2,285 reviews482 followers
November 30, 2020
A beautiful book, filled with lovely illustrations of an Indigenous family, celebrating the simple things in life/their culture that fills their hearts with happiness. Even though it's a board book, I would share this one far and wide in classrooms of all ages. It would be a fantastic mentor text for students to create their own versions, and provides a way to see First Nations peoples as contemporary and honors their culture. Themes about appreciating the small moments in your life and the people who surround and love you provide a lesson worth talking about with students and children.
A fantastic #ownvoices selection, with both the author and illustrator members of First Nations tribes.
Profile Image for Tasha.
4,117 reviews104 followers
April 7, 2016
This gorgeous board book looks at the various things in a little girl's life that make her happy. From smelling bannock in the oven to singing and dancing. The book also includes lots of being outdoors, such as walking in the grass barefoot and feeling the sun on your face. Though the experiences are universal, the book focuses on a Native American little girl and her family. The illustrations are simply superb. They exude a gentleness and depict a loving family experiencing happy moments together.
Profile Image for Ames Public Library Youth Services.
305 reviews15 followers
April 6, 2017
This Canadian import is definitely one of the best board books I've read so far this year.

It's both simple and meaningful, as it walks through what makes a young child happy, from smelling something yummy in the oven all the way to drumming.

Flett's illustrations are simple, but full of joy and movement. The colors are bright and wonderful. All the adults and children in the book are First Nations as are the author and illustrator.

Read this book with a child that you love and both of your hearts will "fill with happiness."

Profile Image for Phyll.
99 reviews
January 27, 2019
read this at the end of all ages storytime. it was surprisingly interactive (like without me having to prompt the preschool-plus crowd much; at the "holding the hand of someone i love" part, one of the little girls said she was holding her own hand because she loved herself yes I cried lol) and we made mini murals to answer the question of "what fills your heart with happiness?" i think next time i might explore flett's style by doing a texture art kinda thing. anyway all this to say (for my own recordkeeping more than anything) 10 out of 10 would recommend
Profile Image for Crystal.
1,360 reviews51 followers
February 23, 2016
absolutely beautiful and charming little board book about knowing what makes you happy (and appreciating it). The pictures are already charming, but then I realized that they were all representing native children of the American Northwest, and that made me happy. a beautiful way to ensure your children are seeing a diverse representation of people in their books, without it being an issues book. Highly recommended to those reading to children in this reading age group.
Profile Image for Crystal.
2,187 reviews113 followers
February 6, 2019
This is a beautiful book filled with many moments of joy. It would be a perfect way to have a conversation about the things that make us happy or the things we are thankful for in our lives. Otherwise, it's simply a warm book to share with children.
Profile Image for Ann.
Author 9 books212 followers
September 19, 2016
Julie Flett is a Cree Metis Canadian author and illustrator. Monique Gray Smith writes the graceful text here. But it's Flett's images of a Native family and culture that steal the show. A wonderful book to read and sign with young children. Perfect happiness.
Profile Image for Earl.
3,489 reviews39 followers
March 6, 2016
Similar in tone as Richard Van Camp's Little You (also illustrated by Julie Flett), this is a sweet message book depicting Indigenous children and families.
Profile Image for DivaDiane.
948 reviews88 followers
March 5, 2021
This was a very sweet book with wonderful, happy illustrations. Text and illustrations alternate with a small element of the illustration picked out and magnified for the text page. A flower, a bird. Lovely.
Profile Image for Amy Layton.
1,641 reviews52 followers
December 15, 2017
This is such a sweet board book, and it's even illustrated by one of my favorite illustrators!!  This is a great book for children to have, and I'd argue that adults should have it as well.  It serves as a reminder of all the things that bring a smile to your face, and reasons to keep that smile there!

Review cross-listed here!
Profile Image for Emily.
1,197 reviews9 followers
December 17, 2018
A sweet celebration of the many things that make us happy and bring us joy. The book emphasizes shared familial activities and experiences.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 277 reviews

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