Selma by Jutta Bauer is an unassuming book about an unassuming sheep that poses the big question: “What is happiness?” I keep this lovely little book on our mantle.
My family recently returned home from vacation, and, as we resume our normal routine, this book has once again been resonating with me.
“What is happiness?” a frustrated dog asks a wise ram.
The wise ram replies: “Happiness? Let me tell you the story of Selma…”
The wise ram then proceeds to tell the tale of Selma the sheep. Each day, Selma eats a little grass, plays with her children, exercises, chats with a friend, and falls fast asleep. When asked what she would do if she had more time or more money, Selma replies that she would do exactly the same thing; she would eat a little grass, play with her children, exercise, chat with a friend, and fall fast asleep.
Selma confuses the heck out of my children. According to my son, “Selma is so crazy!” In contrast to Selma, my son dreams of big things like becoming a famous writer and earning enough money to purchase a year’s worth of bubblegum.
However, Selma has been making a lot of sense to me. There are summer days — exhausting summer days — when I find myself wishing that the school year were already here and I could ship the kids off to school. However, there are other days when I, like Selma, feel content with my simple summer routines: runs along the lake, morning coffee, family bike rides, ice cream cones and impromptu conversation with neighbors. When I appreciate these simple everyday blessings, when these feel like enough, I feel supremely happy.
Selma is a great book for those of you who could use a beautifully delivered reminder that happiness comes from appreciating what you have. It is also a wonderful little book to share with children. I love knowing that the story of crazy Selma is rattling around in my children’s minds and that someday, when the time is right, they may appreciate Selma’s wisdom as well.
Author Jutta Bauer is a German author who won the prestigious Hans Christian Anderson Illustrator Award in 2010. For more about Jutta Bauer, see Jutta Bauer’s biography at the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) website.