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The Happiness Box

by Andrew McLean, Mark Greenwood

In 1942, Sergeant “Griff” Griffin was a prisoner of war. With Christmas approaching, he decided to make a book for the children cooped up in nearby Changi Prison. The book was said to contain the secrets to happiness. But the enemy was suspicious … With this picture book, award winners Mark Greenwood and Andrew McLean bring to life the inspirational true story of a book that became a National Treasure.

This is the true story of Australian prisoners of war who created a picture book called The Happiness Box as a Christmas present for children interned in Changi Prison.

The book was written for children to chase away fear and give them hope, and contained the “secrets to happiness” such as the importance of friendship, kindness, compassion, generosity, loyalty, faith, courage and hard work.

The Happiness Box survived the war. It toured Australia along with Sir Don Bradman’s cricket bat and Ned Kelly’s helmet as part of the National Treasures exhibition from Australia’s great libraries. The book currently resides in the State Library of NSW.



About Andrew McLean

Andrew McLean grew up in the Victorian country town of Bairnsdale. He trained as a painter and teacher, and taught in secondary schools before becoming a lecturer in painting and drawing at Caulfield Institute of Technology. He has been a full-time artist now for more than thirty years. Andrew and his wife Janet have created many picture books together, and Andrew also illustrates books written by other authors. Many of his books have been award winners: he has won the Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Award three times.

Other books by Andrew McLean


About Mark Greenwood

Mark Greenwood's award-winning books examining history, myths and legends have been honoured in Australia and internationally. Simpson and His Donkey was a CBCA Honour Book. Jandamarra, illustrated by Terry Denton, was shortlisted for the CBCA Eve Pownall and the NSW Premier's Literary Awards. Mark often teams with his wife, illustrator Frane Lessac, to produce books that promote history as well as an understanding of multicultural issues.

Other books by Mark Greenwood



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