Sunday, January 19, 2014


Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.

I had the opportunity to review a children's ebook by Suzy Lieberman.

A brief background of this author: Suzy currently resides in the USA, but she is a native of Germany and former resident of the Dominican Republic, Mexico, the Islands of the Bahamas and Switzerland. Well versed in languages and education, she launched Happy Language Kids Publications in 2010 as an interactive language learning program for children. She created a sea character who is a starfish named Hugo. Her stories tell of his adventures in not only exploring the underwater worlds, but also of his discovery of various modes of feelings, lessons of character, ecological alertness and life skills.

The ebook from her series that I was sent for review is called, "The Secret to Happiness." This is something we as humans all long to know and be able to achieve in our lives. Lieberman's series of books have a central focus and theme: building healthy and successful relationships with peers and to educating children about their feelings, their attitudes, their choices and the consequences that follow.

Hugo is a starfish who has a big heart desiring to help others but often his feelings get in the way and sometimes he gets confused about what choices are the best for him. He desires to help others but just like humans sometimes do, he does not always make to best decision right away. Sometimes he needs to learn from his mistakes before finally doing the right thing.

Storyline and themes found in this ebook:

He starts out the story bored, and a little sad. So he finds a friend/acquaintance known as the "Magic Mantra" who is deemed wise and who he asks for advice. His friend suggests he searches right where he is. Well Hugo takes it a bit literally and is thinking that happiness is a tangible object that he must search for. So he searches under various plants, rocks, or sea life, thinking it was something misplaced and able to be found. He begins to get frustrated and even angry (the picture in the ebook shows him with angry eyebrows, teeth clenched and fist clenched in air---I was a little surprised at his quick anger in this children's book).

His friend then suggests he take a nap and so Hugo naps. When he awakes he still feels angry and sad. He longs for happiness that last for a whole day. He decides to take on a fun activity, so he goes fishing above water. Tired out from the long day of fishing, he goes to bed tired but very happy. The next day he wakes up sad and wonders why his happiness was short lived. He asks Magic Mantra what would make him happy for a whole month, to which he suggests Hugo spend time with a good friend. So Hugo does just that and for the time being seems very happy and satisfied.

Unfortunately happiness is fleeting and he is bored again, looking for something to gratify his need for happiness. He longs to be happy for a whole year, and at the advice of his "wise" friend, he goes in search of fortune and treasure, finds it and buys lots of tangible gifts and possessions for himself.

As I read this, I begin to wonder the wiseness of his friend Magic Mantra, but also wonder if perhaps Mantra is trying to teach Hugo a lesson and have him learn from his mistakes. Mantra then tells Hugo that things we are used to having all the time loose their luster and appeal. We then begin to not appreciate what we have. We become greedy and rely on tangible things to brings us happiness. But in reality, these bursts of happiness/pleasure/satisfaction are only temporary.

Hugo desired for lasting happiness and finally learns that loving and sharing with others is what truly brings complete satisfaction in life. He learns empathy, the feeling that you understand and share another person's emotions that they are feeling and that you desire to care about their needs. His heart grows even more and he is able to share his love and heart with others. Later in the story Hugo is able to help a friend in need and this help strengthens him in many ways. He feels renewed and his happiness grows. He feels accomplishment and realizes that is is more important to share and care instead of trying to feed his desire and wants.

I read this story twice and it has a good message. It teaches the reader that happiness comes from loving and caring for others. Those who already know this "secret" to happiness are reminded of this and will hopefully have a renewed interest and renewed desire to share their time and love with others. This is a simple story that will be a good life lesson for young readers. The theme is simple, but often we as adults have difficultly grasping this at times. We all need to devote our lives to loving others first, before ourselves.

For more information on this series and the author, please visit:

This book is available on in ebook form as well as hardcover.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

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