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Mr. Happy book and bruise soother September 20, 2012

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Books, Kitchen & Bath, Smiley.
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A couple of weeks ago, I posted about the awesome Mr. Happy notebook and bookbag my nieces and nephew gave me for my birthday. After I posted the photos of those gifts, I asked Jennifer if we still had her old Mr. Men and Little Miss books lying around, and — like the librarian she is — she went straight to them in our bookshelf, sorted through the stack and produced this:

Mr. Happy, by Roger Hargreaves. From Jennifer’s childhood bookshelf! 🙂

But wait, there’s more! Just a few days after that, we went on a shopping trip to The Container Store (where else would a librarian shop for organization tools?), and she called me over the to “impulse buy” rack where she’d spotted this AWESOME Mr. Happy “bruise soother” gel pack:

Of course she bought it for me. 🙂

Today, I was photographing the bruise soother for this post, and Jennifer said, “Man, I really could have used that for my knee.”

Remember Jennifer’s knee?

Bruise on my wife’s knee, 23 June 2009.

Reader-submitted “Smiley Book of Colors” April 16, 2012

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Books, Reader submission, Simulacra, Smiley.
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My friend Anthony P. — a librarian — sent me a link to this wonderful article about a book called The Smiley Book of Colors, by Ruth Kaiser.

The Smiley Book of Colors, by Ruth Kaiser. Submitted by reader Anthony P.

I assumed from the title that it was a children’s book, but I was half wrong. It is a children’s book, of sorts, but it’s rooted in some pretty hard-core scientific research, “at once teaching (eternal) kids basic color theory and instilling in them the habits of optimism — a charming, light-hearted complement to the recent grown-up exploration of the science of smiles,” according to Maria Popova.

The book’s concept is simple: it pairs color-coded smiley faces with psychologically appropriate aphorisms about happiness based on the colors in the images. But what strikes me most about the book is that all the images are simulacra — examples of smileys occurring accidentally (or synchronistically?) in the world! To my mind, that approach invites children (and adults) to be on the lookout for hidden smileys everywhere, and with that mindset, we all wind up thinking about happiness a little more and becoming happy a little more often. 🙂

If you can’t afford to buy the book yet, or you tried to check it out from the library but it’s already on hold by someone else, at least check out the article about the book and browse some of the AWESOME smiley simulacra there!

Horse with cage ball, in People magazine September 5, 2011

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Books, Smiley, The Great Enabler.
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Horse with cage ball, in People magazine, 4 July 2011. Photo by Karen Kuehn. (Click the photo to read the article online.)

Animals need happiness, too!

My mother-in-law, the Great Enabler, sent me this page from a recent issue of People magazine. The article is about the ways abused or neglected animals and traumatized children can help each other emotionally deal with their pasts. It’s a beautiful story, and what better lead photo than a giant, horse-sized ball with smiley face!

“Smile” comic book May 30, 2011

Posted by Samuel Snoek-Brown in Art, Books, Smiley.
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"Smile," a graphic memoir by Raina Telgemeier. From my personal collection.

Just a few weeks ago, my mother-in-law, the Great Enabler, gave me a handful of new smiley faces for my collection. The coolest by far was this delightful young-adult graphic memoir by Raina Telgemeier, in which she recounts the trauma and teen tribulations surrounding her orthodontic work. I was happy with the book just for the grinning smiley on the cover, complete with gleaming braces, but the book itself is actually quite good, a painfully and hilariously honest portrayal of those awkward teen years taken to an almost absurd — yet all-too-real — extreme. Telgemeier’s knack for character depth, storytelling, and accessible art make this a fantastic read, and the ending is superb, uplifting without being at all trite. (Plus, she’s the same age as me, so she’s writing about an adolescence I recognize ALL too well!)

Telgemeier is going to prove an important new female voice in comics, and I highly recommend Smile for anyone interested in the medium.