Is there more to happiness than meets the eye? It's time to find out!
A grumpy alien called Zob is searching for happiness, and he’d love your help to find it.
Discover happiness for Zob on his adventure through this activity-based picture book, exploring happiness ideas like kindness, empathy and positivity and enjoying conversations about what it means to live a happy and fulfilled life.
I was a parent with primary school aged children when I began learning about happiness, but I wish I'd not left it so long. Just like any parent I wanted my children to be happy, but did I actually know what that meant and how to make it happen? I needed to lift the lid on happiness.
I was surprised to discover there was a scientific approach to the study of happiness and plenty of books available on the subject reporting findings of evidence-based happiness or wellbeing studies (a version of happiness associated with health or flourishing).
And an amazing range of positive findings were highlighted including better health, improved relationships, academic achievement, more creativity, success, optimism and even longer life.
Wow, had I been seriously underestimating the value of happiness? And if being happy was a bit like having a superpower(!) how could I help my children find it?
There were skills, attitudes and behaviours identified in the findings too, like acting kindly, being in nature and having a positive mind set and suggestions that skills can improve with practice. Could these be 'happiness clues' - small, every day things that perhaps made a big difference to life?
I started including some of these 'happiness behaviours' into my routine, adding regular 'happy activities' into plans for the week ahead whenever possible. I tried consciously to shift my attitude to talk about the positive parts of my day when familiar negative patterns started to kick in. Over weeks and months, I began to feel more energised, purposeful and optimistic, and noticed the childrens' attitude start to shift too as we tried to reflect more on the positive moments from our days.
But there were many happiness ideas that we just didn't find the time to talk about during the busy days of work, school, homework and after school activities and there was definitely a 'disconnect' between what my children thought would make them happy and the happiness 'clues' I'd read about.
Some of the clues had the potential to make others happier too and overlapped with friendship skills like kindness, empathy and compassion. I wanted to help my children be empowered in the knowledge of happy, healthier choices and with so much concerning news coverage about children's mental health, I didn't think I was alone.
Child happiness is declining. The Good Childhood Report (a study by The Children's Society that compares children's happiness, by examining year-on-year figures), has identified a downward trend in happiness with children's 'life as a whole'.
Understanding more about happiness had been helpful in my life and I thought it might be so for other families too. I wondered how I could share happiness ideas with busy families in a way that didn't add to the hectic schedules?
Reading at bedtime was part of our daily routine. My children regularly picked preferred books - often interactive ones with puzzles, items to spot or choices to make. And whilst they enjoyed being involved in directing the story, I enjoyed the opportunity for conversation, connection and fun whilst reading together.
As books about happiness had had such a positive impact on my life and knowing that literacy also supports happiness and wellbeing I decided that a book for children was the perfect format to help children in their happiness journey.
So, I imagined an interactive picture story book packed with empowering happiness ideas to explore, beautiful images, fun and playful pages with questions to support family connection whilst sparking conversations and reflection on positive moments from the day.
Like most ideas, this one turned up when I was least expecting it, on this occasion whilst out dog walking(!), but it's now been a 'passion project' for the past few years. I've been fortunate to work with and seek the advice of amazing professionals and parents who have steered, advised and sense checked. And as we near completion in these unprecedented and difficult times happiness, optimism and resilience (for both now and the future) have possibly never been more needed or more relevant.
I hope readers (young and old!) enjoy finding the many 'happy clues' in this hide-and-seek style activity book, and that as they grow, so will their own personal (and their families') happiness.
The book follows the story of a young, brave alien from the unhappy Planet Sob as he arrives on Earth to look for happiness. Two friends offer to show him around and make his journey a game to find the happiness activities hidden in the book!
Each double page highlights a different theme related to happiness and wellbeing including:
*Spending time in nature * Sharing time together * Enjoying fun hobbies * Acts of kindness * Helping others * Sport and exercise * Rest and sleep *
Here's an example double page which shows children enjoying nature:
Children learn as they play, so inside you'll find lots to do: there are questions, happiness clues to spot and lots of reminders about every day small things that make a difference to life. The book is designed for sharing with children of approximately 4 – 8 years old. Younger children will love the rhyme (which also supports language and learning skills) whilst older ones will enjoy the hide-and-seek format.
There are lots of opportunities for grown-ups to help children notice positive moments from the day, including a brief introduction to gratitude practice (reflecting and feeling thankful) and a reference to growth mind set, i.e. improvement of skills through practice, both of which are associated with positive mindset. There's plenty of chances to incorporate your own families' ideas into the story too.
Here are some further sample pages with happiness themes:
(Please note these are draft page rather than final approved pages and printed colours will vary and all pages were created and reflect pre-Covid)
From manuscript to final draft, advice and feedback from amazing book professionals to teachers, head teachers, parents and a GP has helped the book's development.
The artwork is by brilliant illustrator Rosie Johnson (@rosiejohnsonillustrates) who has turned happiness ideas into beautiful, engaging and visually appealing drawings of fun hobbies outdoors, kindness in the classroom and playground and creative activities in the home. Rosie's knowledge and skills from early years' teaching experience helps her create images that both appeal to and engage with younger children.
Rosie says, "Working with Coral on a book about children’s happiness whilst being a parent to two primary-aged children myself has been such a joy and an inspiration. Even just by illustrating her wonderful ideas I’ve brought more balance and reflection into my own parenting. I am Zob. I will take this learning back to my planet!"
Rhyme and Scansion Editor, Lily Neal has over 20 years of experience in teaching poetry and creative writing, and also writes and performs her own comic verse. Lily has also been running The Topsham Bookshop for the past 27 years!
Lily says, “Working on this project with Coral has been very exciting for me. With my own two small grandsons in mind, I have been helping Coral to frame the excellent message of her book in as pacy and inviting a style as possible. We wanted the words of this book to be easily memorable by young children”.
Meanwhile, book designer Dan Prescott from Couper Street Type Co. formerly of Penguin Books has provided a professional overview of overall design and style.
Dr Daisy Robinson is a GP at College Surgery Partnership, Devon and her interests include clinical education and young people’s health and wellbeing.
Daisy says, " ‘The most powerful change lies in the art of the conversation’. This clever new illustrated story and activity book has the power to bring parents, carers and children together through inspiring conversations that matter – Where does happiness come from? What’s important for a happy & healthy life? Research into these questions and the field of Positive Psychology is now embedded in many of the public health and workplace initiatives to support our wellbeing but it is rare to find it told from the perspective of our youngest children. In a world of digital, competitive busyness, we often lament that there is no longer time to play and little incentive to read when we know these are crucial to healthy development and emotional wellbeing. Through simple stories and practices that can easily be made part of family life, children and adults alike can learn together how everyone can build lifelong wellbeing, happiness and positivity."
And as for me:
I'm a mum, designer, dreamer and optimist, passionate about sharing positive ideas through storytelling and creativity. I'm interested in topics that improve my understanding of the world and my place in it, like history, literature, art, psychology and mindfulness. It's so much fun to see Zob the alien taking the journey I took to discover all the wonderful ways to find happiness!
We've been fortunate to receive some great feedback from families with young children who've read and reviewed a draft copy of the book.
The content and design work is mostly complete, and all that needs to be finalised are the book name and cover design.
The plan is that paperback copies of the book should be ready for printing within around 8 weeks of the crowdfunder end date. However, it is possible that there may be some unforeseen delays due to Covid-19. Currently, as I write this, my UK-based printer and the Royal Mail are still operating with safeguards. The aim is to send books out approx. 8-9 weeks after the crowdfunder finish date and we are allowing an extra week for artwork or clothing orders. Watch out for updates, we aim to get them to you sooner if we can!
Your money will support:
- The first print run of full colour paperback books
- The purchase of an ISBN (a unique number for published books)
- To fund some marketing to help spread the word about the book
To make them suitable for sharing, books are fairly large with soft paperback covers. Book dimensions are anticipated to be approx 230mm x 260mm. A UK printer will be engaged.
There are plenty to choose from, from the book, to artwork, adult hoodies and children's t-shirts, we hope you find something you like!
There are 3 prints to choose from, 'squirrel watching', 'leaf kicking' and 'happy thought'. Each has a caption or some poetry based on happiness themes in the book. Draft samples are shown below (note: final print colours in all rewards may differ slightly to how they appear on the computer)
The children's t-shirt design sample 'be a happiness spotter' is below, it has a visual reminder to help kids remember to notice happiness when it happens in their day.
Children's T Shirt Design
We don't want to leave the grown ups out from the delights of spotting happiness, so here's also the design sample for the adult hoodie 'my happiness hoodie' with a rainbow to brighten up the day.
Adult Hoodie Design
FunFair Books and Designs was set up to inspire children and grown ups with positive messages and hopeful ideas. The company is modelled on values linked to happiness including generosity, kindness and helping others, which ensures the business does good and makes a contribution to the world! (see below for more information about a community literacy project)
The links between wellbeing and literacy are evident from research, National Literacy Trust research suggests approximately 1 in 8 children don't own a single book and some children still struggle to read even as they begin at secondary school.
FunFair Books and Designs is the home of an initiative called Book Share, delivering good quality second hand donated picture books to children in communities without a library.
A mini picture-book-lending shelf is being piloted in a North Devon Community Shop, thanks to Sue's support at High Bickington Community Shop. Families are already benefitting from this book-borrowing shelf and we hope to support more young readers in the future.
Once the target is reached, a stretch target will be introduced. The stretch target will include printing more books and upgrading some of the paper and cover choices PLUS we will donate £1 for each book pre-ordered (or pledges of £10 or over) to be split between the Bramble children's ward at the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Hospital and Young Minds, the children and young people's mental health charity.
The campaign aims to support children, literacy projects and the NHS. We also support all families in lockdown with our free book-based themed activity sheets. Download and enjoy them at www.funfairbooks.com/free-resources/ with drawing and colouring-in activities and opportunities for positive reflection.
There are several ways to support Zob's journey to happiness,
- Pledge or purchase a gift on our crowdfunding campaign
- Like, follow and share on FunFair Books social (Facebook, Instagram, twitter)
- Spread the word, tell friends, family and colleagues
I hope you will like the rewards, but any pledge (big or small) will help to empower children and families and make the dream a reality! Thank you.
* Enjoy stories and time together * Share positive ideas * Start conversations * Empower with knowledge * Talk about feelings * Build connection * Promote understanding * Support lifelong benefits of literacy *
Thanks so much for reading and watching. Your support means a lot!
Here's a peek at how it looks inside : )