In this straightforward picture book, children learn that thinking happy thoughts will make their lives more positive overall.
After a bad day at school, Annabella dreams about a sad, gray rainbow. Her best friend comes to visit, and they experiment with drawing happy and sad rainbows—complete with corresponding colors and illustrations inside the rainbows. They decide that being happy is correlated with thinking of the happy rainbow, and the book concludes with an exercise to help children generate more positivity in their lives and a meditation to promote relaxation and positive thoughts.
The objective and conclusions of this book are quite clear and the message may be helpful to children who take them to heart. It can be argued, however, that they come at the expense of a holistic approach to dealing with sadness. Rather than thinking about what causes sadness and how behaviors can be adjusted for a happier life, the recommendation for positive thinking may strike some as ineffective or insufficient.
The childlike, static illustrations are also mismatched, with the “sad rainbow” dotted by a broken home, among other items, while the “happy rainbow’s” decorations feature ice cream cones and flowers—a rather lopsided comparison. Odd moments, such as when Annabella’s parents tell her to talk to her friend about her sad rainbow dream rather than trying to explore it with her themselves, also set a questionable tone.
The approach taken here, which indicates that avoiding sad feelings is more effective than addressing why a person feels depressed, seems overly simplistic. Still, the intent of The Happy Rainbow is admirable and, the book provides a viable option, if somewhat superficial, that children can choose when feeling unhappy.
Also available as an ebook.