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Meet Magination Press Authors Jon Lasser and Sage Foster-Lasser
From Sketch to Book at Magination Press: Chris Lyles


My name is Kiko. I'm a gardener. I grow happy. Let me show you how.

Kiko shows the reader how she grows happiness: by making good choices, taking care of her body and mind, paying attention to her feelings, problem solving, and spending time with family and friends.

Kids will learn that they can play a pivotal role in creating their own happiness, just like Kiko.

A Note to Parents and Other Caregivers provides more strategies for helping children learn how to grow happiness.

About the Authors

Jon Lasser, PhD, is a psychologist, school psychologist, professor, and program director of the school psychology program at Texas State University. At Texas State he has developed and taught graduate courses for the school psychology program and has also taught the freshman first-year experience course.

He has co-authored two other books (School Psychologist as Counselor and Professional Ethics in Midwifery Practice) as well as journal articles and chapters on a variety of subjects including autism, parenting, ethics, sexuality, and graduate preparation.

Jon holds a bachelor's degree in Plan II liberal arts from the University of Texas at Austin, a master's degree in human sexuality education from the University of Pennsylvania, and a doctorate in school psychology from the University of Texas at Austin.

He grows happy by spending time with his family, kayaking, listening to Bob Dylan, and gardening.

Sage Foster-Lasser is a student at the University of Texas at Austin, where she majors in psychology. Upon the completion of her bachelor's degree, Sage plans to take time to travel and explore before moving on to pursue a graduate degree in some area of psychology.

Sage enjoys exploring the outdoors, reading while snacking, and spending time with all of the wonderful people around her.

Sage's loving family members, amazing group of friends and, last but not least, beloved golden doodle Nico help her grow happy every day.

About the Illustrator

Christopher Lyles has illustrated numerous books for children. Inspired by vintage graphics and antique surfaces, he uses collage and mixed media applications to create his art.

He lives in a quiet New England town surrounded by wilderness. When he is not creating picture books, he enjoys spending time with his family and hiking the surrounding woods.

The illustrations for Grow Happy were created using cut-paper collage, crayons, acrylics, and digital media.

Reviews & Awards

All readers could learn from Grow Happy, but like gardening it's much more fun when you read it together.
Plant Talk

This book should lead to many good discussions around well being and each person's ability to cultivate their own contentment.
School Library Connection

I love that this book teaches kids that they have the power to make themselves happy.
—Mom's Radius

Wonderfully entertaining from beginning to end and with an invaluable life affirming message, Grow Happy is unreservedly and enthusiastically recommended for family, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections.
Midwest Book Review

A charming and to-the-point book for addressing mindfulness with young children, perfect for classrooms and libraries.
School Library Journal

Creating and caring for a garden serves as an apt metaphor for self-care in this sensitive story from the father-daughter team of Lasser and Foster-Lasser…Crinkly, textured papers bring pleasing warmth to Lyles's mixed-media collages, creating an atmosphere of positivity to match the girl's confident attitude.
Publishers Weekly

In Grow Happy, the authors help children to think metaphorically about growing happiness in a variety of strategic ways. This is a fun and meaningful way for children to learn more about cultivating happiness. This is crucial because so many children do not realize that their happiness is not dependent upon luck and circumstances. Parents will enjoy reading this book with their children and teachers can use it as a way of promoting wellbeing during literacy time.
—John Mark Froiland, PhD, NCSP (a.k.a., Dr. Happiness on Twitter @DrJohnMFroiland)
Research Director of Pearson Clinical Assessment; Associate Editor of School Psychology International; Positive Psychology Author

Grow Happy, by father and daughter team Dr. Jon Lasser and Sage Foster-Lasser, is a joyous, creative, loving, and beautifully illustrated story about a child, Kiko, who is growing a bountiful garden and, at the same time, developing a healthy, positive, happy self. Kiko shares how she makes good choices, takes care of her body and mind, and practices self-acceptance. Kiko experiences her feelings and finds solutions to her challenges through her own thoughtful actions and help and care from others. The illustrations by Chris Lyles bring the story alive — Kiko is a very appealing and fun character. The book will be a cherished read for children and their parents/caregivers and will be appreciated by teachers, counselors, and psychologists. I highly recommend this book and will definitely include it in my own library.
—Deborah J. Tharinger, PhD
Psychologist; Professor Emeritus, University of Texas at Austin

We teach our kids to read, do math, become productive. But what about how to be happy? Isn't that what we want most for them? If I'd had this book when my daughter was little I would have read it to her every day.
—Colin Beavan
Author of How To Be Alive: A Guide to the Kind of Happiness That Helps the World

This is a delightful book. Comparing the growth of children to the growth of plants is so clever and so right. I think all children will love this book as much as I did.
—Violet Oaklander, PhD
Author of Windows To Our Children