Happiness is a Watermelon on your Head is a delightfully surreal picture book with a rhyming text provided by Daniel Hahn to complement the lush, fantastical world that Stella Dreis creates so well with her wonderful illustrations. This really seems like one of those perfect collaborations between writer and illustrator that children will adore.
It tells the story of Miss Jolly, a woman, who as her name suggests, is filled with happiness at the sheer wonder of what life has to offer. Miss Jolly enjoys playing the cello, living with her pet boar, Melvin, and enjoying a lot of fruit based activities.
Her neighbours, Miss Whimper, Miss Grouch, and Miss Stern, who are less thrilled with what life has to offer, try to work out what makes Miss Jolly so pleased with her life, and spend large parts of the book trying to copy Miss Jolly to ill effect, until Miss Jolly engages them in the biggest watermelon fight in the history of picture books, and encourages them to wear fruit on their heads.
As you do.
The story has a real element of the Lewis Carroll/Alice in Wonderland fantasy about it that makes it delightful to read and share. It is also very funny, both in the words the author chooses, and the way the illustrator chooses to depict the story. The vocabulary and images are rich pickings if you are trying to stimulate children’s creativity and engage in their love of off the wall material.
My children, aged 6, 9 and 14 loved this.