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If you are a regular visitor, you may have noticed that I like to theme my blog posts, saving up books on a particular subject to group together.This post will be no exception – but today the theme is a bit less obvious. Today, the theme is books that have made me smile and brought sunshine into my day - as I hope they will for you in these difficult times!

First, a bright and sunny book specially designed to make you smile. 50 Ways to Feel Happy by Vanessa King with Val Payne and Peter Harper (QED) is an Action for Happiness title that aims to help promote not just happiness but health and well-being too. Browsing the fifty tips, there are not only practical ideas of things to make and do – a box of kindness, cards to make – but ways in which we can make changes to our lifestyles, and in very simple ways, too. For example, have a set bedtime; turn off technology; learn something new; realise a dream. Many of the suggestions may seem to be obvious, but it is often the obvious that passes us by. This book is a reminder that we should return to the simpler things in life - like the sunshine I am currently sitting in!

As we have seen, realising a dream can make you very happy indeed - what if your dream is to become a doctor one day or a pilot? Two very different careers, I admit, but with the help of Doctor Academy by Steve Martin, illustrated by Giodano Polini, and Pilot Academy, illustrated by Chris Andrews (Ivy Kids), those dreams could come true! Why did these books make me smile? Not only do they take me step-by-step through some of the basics of each career –learn how a doctor trains, the skills of empathy and how a pilot takes off and lands and can even have a role in saving lives – but I can also play with the stickers and make things with the press-out model. So much to learn, absorb and put into practice - what is there not to smile about?!

The final book that has made me smile is an encyclopedia. Let me provide some context: I have had a day off – a busman’s holiday – to go to a book fair and I was thrilled to find a very old copy of Ivor the Engine, PLUS the DVD of the complete colour series. Then when I came home, I had the chance to pour over Thomas & Friends Character Encyclopedia (DK Books)… well, smiles all the way! The Encyclopedia has been particularly fascinating as I had no idea that there were so many characters in Thomas’ world – I have some of the very first books, signed by the author which sadly only feature some of the very first characters. I have now learnt that there are Scruff and Whiff, the smelly engines, Samson, small but strong, experimental engines, cranes and even boats! I have loved discovering the world of Thomas, learning facts about his friends, putting them into the context of their own stories and of course playing with the mini Thomas toy was an added bonus!

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