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Pickle Me This

February 12, 2016

My Heart Fills With Happiness, by Monique Gray Smith and Julie Flett

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As the world’s biggest fan of Little You, the board book by Richard Van Camp and Julie Flett, I’m particularly excited about Flett’s latest work, My Heart Fills With Happiness, a board book written by Monique Gray Smith (whose novel, Tilly, was winner of the 2014 Burt Prize for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature). “This book is dedicated to the former Indian Residential School students and their families—may you find what you seek,” reads Smith’s dedication, and her text is a celebration of First Nations culture as well as those perfect moments of exuberant joy that might be noted as ordinary if they weren’t so extraordinary (and perhaps the key to happiness lies in knowing that distinction): when you see the face of someone you love, smell bannock baking in the oven (with a teapot in the illustration; and oh, do I ever want to bake bannock now), when you’re dancing, singing, or holding the hand of someone you love. “What fills YOUR heart with happiness?” the book asks as it ends.

I received an advanced copy of My Heart Fills With Happiness back in December when I’d been ill in bed for weeks, and I recall reading it with Iris one afternoon while we were home alone together. It was late afternoon and the west-facing window in my room was poured through with sunlight, as yellow as this book’s beautiful cover. We were lying in my bed, face to face, and prompted by the book’s final question, we started talking about the things that fill our hearts: cake, and sunlight, and hugs, and books. The first proper conversation we’d ever had, it occurred to me, as her brain had undergone some transformation rather suddenly (she’d just turned two and a half) and now was (kind of) a creature capable of communicating complex ideas: she looked at me and said, “The sun makes my window so open.” And I knew exactly what she meant.

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IMG_20160212_084913UPDATE: Bannock happened! We baked it this morning and the smell is indeed one that would fill your heart with happiness. Delicious. We happen to have leftover Devonshire cream in the fridge as well as strawberry jam, so my heart is basically exploding (and not just with cholesterol). I got the recipe from here.

2 thoughts on “My Heart Fills With Happiness, by Monique Gray Smith and Julie Flett”

  1. My dad used to make bannock for us. I should make it again. 🙂

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