Selma by Jutta Bauer

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.

This entry was posted in Ages 5+, Ages 6+, Ages 7+, Ages 8+, All Ages and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Selma by Jutta Bauer

  1. Anja, Germany says:

    I think, the story of Selma wants to tell us that you are only happy when you would do the same what you do now every day although you would have more time and/or a lot of money. So if your son (or Selma) would be truely happy working all long for example, he wouldn’t change that for all the money and spare time in the world. Selma might be crazy because she likes eating, caring or working (in the German version she is teaching the children to speak; not playing with them), exercising, chatting, sleeping. But that happens to be the definition of a good work-life balance.

  2. Lisa says:

    Oh, my library doesn’t have this one, and it looks so sweet. :( Is it new?

    • Amy says:

      That’s too bad that your library doesn’t have it. It is not brand new. It was first published in 2002 in Germany and in 2003 in the US.

  3. marydpierce says:

    What a sweet, simple story about happiness. I think the fact that your son has an opinion – even if it’s ‘Selma is so crazy!’ – shows that the book has had an impact. I’m betting one day he’ll be reminded of Selma and have one of those AHA! moments.
    Thanks for sharing. I’m unfamiliar with Jutta Bauer, but now I’m going to go look for more books by her.

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