The Big Little Book of Happy Sadness By Colin Thompson




Another beautiful Colin Thompson book – do not read this one without waterproof mascara and tissues!


George lives with his grandmother. His parents are an empty hole in his life and George is filled with loneliness. Every Friday he visits the dog shelter and makes his way right down the end where the cage houses the dog whose time is just about up. Here George feels as though he can relate.

One Friday, instead of hiding in the shadows at the back of this cage, the dog within it, is at the front. He stares at George with a quiet dignity and George falls in love.

He and his grandmother rescue this poor, divine little dog and together they learn a whole new vocabulary, like ‘warmth’ and ‘cuddle’ and they learn to fill the emptiness inside.


Why I love it:

Thankfully, I read this book whilst alone in the privacy of my own home. I was full-sobbing by page two! It is a gorgeous story, but it is one you probably need to be wary of, with young children, as the themes are a little challenging (even for a grown-up like me).

Colin Thompson is a master at drawing parallels between animals and people and does an incredible job of tugging at your emotions and making you appreciate what you have.

This book is a gem, but you have been warned – it is a tear-jerker.

Themes to discuss with your child:

  • Dogs
  • Love
  • Life and death
  • Appreciation
  • Loneliness
  • Family
  • Dignity
  • Emptiness
  • Kindness
  • Acceptance
  • Happiness
  • Sadness
  • Hope

Questions to ask your child:

Before reading:
  • What do you think this book might be about?
  • Do you think this is a fiction book (a story) or a non-fiction book (facts)?
  • Is this a book you want to read? Why/why not?
  • How do you think the woman and the boy feel about the dog on the cover?
  • Who do you think the woman and the boy are?
  • What do you notice about the words in the title of this book? Why do you think there are pairs of opposites used?
After reading:
  • Did you enjoy this story? Why/why not?
  • Did it make you feel happy and sad?
  • What part made you the saddest?
  • What part made you the happiest?
  • Why do you think George felt a connection to this particular dog?
  • Where do you think George’s parents were?
  • Do you think Jeremy is a good name for the dog? If not, what would you name him?
  • How do you think Jeremy felt when he realised he was going home with someone?


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