Son of Happy

Son of Happy

Written by: Fagan, Cary
Illustrated by: Pavlović, Milan
ages 6 to 9 / grades 1 to 4

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How would you feel if your dad were a clown?

The boy in this story never wants to go to his friends’ birthday parties, because Happy the Clown is always there. And Happy is … his dad.

He wishes his dad had a regular job, like all the other kids’ parents. He didn’t mind his dad being a clown when he was a little kid, but now it’s just embarrassing. And even worse, since business is slow, his dad is putting a sign on the front lawn advertising his clown services!

But one night at dinner Dad announces that he’s going back to his old job of being a lawyer. “You were a lawyer?” the boy asks, incredulous.

Now his dad wears a suit and tie to work, the family can buy a new car, his mom can take piano lessons, and he can have a skateboard and cellphone. But something feels different. The boy wonders if his dad misses being a clown. Or is he the one who misses Happy?

With bittersweet humor, Cary Fagan brings us a story about a boy’s growing consciousness and a father’s realization that he can be himself.

Key Text Features
speech bubbles

Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.4.3
Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character's thoughts, words, or actions).

How would you feel if your dad were a clown?

The boy in this story never wants to go to his friends’ birthday parties, because Happy the Clown is always there. And Happy is … his dad.

He wishes his dad had a regular job, like all the other kids’ parents. He didn’t mind his dad being a clown when he was a little kid, but now it’s just embarrassing. And even worse, since business is slow, his dad is putting a sign on the front lawn advertising his clown services!

But one night at dinner Dad announces that he’s going back to his old job of being a lawyer. “You were a lawyer?” the boy asks, incredulous.

Now his dad wears a suit and tie to work, the family can buy a new car, his mom can take piano lessons, and he can have a skateboard and cellphone. But something feels different. The boy wonders if his dad misses being a clown. Or is he the one who misses Happy?

With bittersweet humor, Cary Fagan brings us a story about a boy’s growing consciousness and a father’s realization that he can be himself.

Key Text Features
speech bubbles

Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.4.3
Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character's thoughts, words, or actions).

Published By Groundwood Books Ltd — May 1, 2020
Specifications 44 pages | 7.25 in x 8.5 in
Written By

CARY FAGAN writes books for children and adults. He has won the Vicky Metcalf Award for Children’s Literature, the Jewish Book Award, the IODE Jean Throop Book Award and the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award, among others. His picture books include A Cage Went in Search of a Bird, illustrated by Banafsheh Erfanian, and Son of Happy, illustrated by Milan Pavlović, which was named one of the Best Canadian Picture Books of 2020 by CBC Books. Cary lives with his family in Toronto.

Illustrated by

MILAN PAVLOVIĆ lives in Toronto with his family. When he is not illustrating picture books, drawing or playing the ukulele, he is teaching visual communication and illustration at OCAD University and Seneca College. He has illustrated over fifty children's books including Son of Happy by Cary Fagan, The Boy Who Invented the Popsicle by Anne Renaud, and Moon Wishes by Guy and Patricia Storms. He created the lyrical wordless picture book Sonata for Fish and Boy.

Written By

CARY FAGAN writes books for children and adults. He has won the Vicky Metcalf Award for Children’s Literature, the Jewish Book Award, the IODE Jean Throop Book Award and the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award, among others. His picture books include A Cage Went in Search of a Bird, illustrated by Banafsheh Erfanian, and Son of Happy, illustrated by Milan Pavlović, which was named one of the Best Canadian Picture Books of 2020 by CBC Books. Cary lives with his family in Toronto.

Illustrated by

MILAN PAVLOVIĆ lives in Toronto with his family. When he is not illustrating picture books, drawing or playing the ukulele, he is teaching visual communication and illustration at OCAD University and Seneca College. He has illustrated over fifty children's books including Son of Happy by Cary Fagan, The Boy Who Invented the Popsicle by Anne Renaud, and Moon Wishes by Guy and Patricia Storms. He created the lyrical wordless picture book Sonata for Fish and Boy.

Audience ages 6 to 9 / grades 1 to 4
Reading Levels Fountas & Pinnel Text Level N
Guided Reading N
Key Text Features speech bubbles
Common Core CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.4.3

Commended, CBC Books Best Canadian Picture Books, 2020

“[A] heartwarming story … Milan Pavlović’s mixed-media illustrations have a childlike feel with scribbly lines and crayon shading. … Cary Fagan’s text is ideal for early readers — simple with lots of short sentences and a pleasing rhythm.” —Quill and Quire

“[An] impressively entertaining story for young readers.” —Midwest Book Review