Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 6 to 9
- Grade: 1 to 4
- Reading age: 6 to 9
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
Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts:
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).
About the authors
Cary Fagan is the author of eight previous novels and five books of short stories, including The Student, Great Adventures for the Faint of Heart, and A Bird's Eye. He has been nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Writers' Trust Fiction Award, the Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction, and has won the Toronto Book Award and the Canadian Jewish Book Award for Fiction. He is also an acclaimed writer of books for children, having won the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award, the IODE Jean Throop Book Award, a Mr. Christie Silver Medal, the Joan Betty Stuchner—Oy Vey!—Funniest Children's Book Award, and the Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People. Fagan's work has been translated into French, Italian, German, Dutch, Spanish, Catalan, Turkish, Russian, Polish, Chinese, Korean and Persian. He still lives in his hometown of Toronto.
Milan Pavlovic 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. His many other books include Son of Happy by Cary Fagan, The Boy Who Invented the Popsicle by Anne Renaud, Moon Wishes by Guy and Patricia Storms, Seamus’s Short Story by Heather Hartt-Sussman (“The illustrations, in rich watercolor and colored pencil, are elegantly patterned —School Library Journal, starred review) and The Snuggly by Glen Huser.
- Commended, CBC Books Best Canadian Picture Books
[An] impressively entertaining story for young readers.
Midwest Book Review
[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