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The Happiness Box

June 14, 2016

I can remember clearly, as a child, borrowing “The Happiness Box” from the library. I loved this book, and can remember that I borrowed it many times, and almost read the print off the page.

What I cannot remember, is knowing the back-story to this book and how it came to be written and published. Perhaps, as a child, that story didn’t interest me, so I didn’t think too much about it. Or perhaps, I never even knew that the book was written in
Changi prison.

Today, I heard the book and it’s origins being discussed and it brought many memories for me. So off I went to Trove, to see what I could find.

As always, Trove did not disappoint. The origins of the book are in the article below.

from: The Age, Melbourne, Thursday 06 November 1947, Junior Age Supplement, Page 2.

Author & Artists


The “Happiness Box” by David Griffin. Drawings by Leslie Greener. (Australasian Publishing Company; 4/6.)

Dedicated to children whose fathers “went to Singapore and never came back”, this book has a history which should appeal to all young children, and is a worthwhile record of what prisoners of war did during their internment.

In Changi gaol there were several English boys and girls, prisoners of the Japanese, and at Christmas, this book was written for them as a present. Because the Japanese were going to confiscate it, the story was buried in a tin for several years. After the war, it was dug up and has now been attractively published.


Heroes of the story are Winston, a Chi-Chak (wise little Malayan Lizard); Martin, a monkey, and Wobbley, a frog.

One day when Wobbley was digging, for food he found a wooden Box of Happiness.

Together the three sought advice from the wisest people in the Jungle— Dreamy Bill the oldest tortoise In the world, Flappy King of the Birds, and Bumble the Bee who knew every thing.

When the box was opened they found the recipe to happiness, which the three gave to all people they met.

Excellent pen sketches, it’s readable style, and its unobvious moral, which is good, make this little book worth inclusion in even adults’ libraries.

AGE GROUP — Up to 11. years.


Happiness Box





(Punctuation and paragraphs have been added to the above transcription for ease and speed of reading)






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  1. I have included your blog in Interesting Blogs, Friday Fossicking as below…

    Thank you, Chris

    • Thank you so much Chris, for highlighting my blog in Friday Fossickers. I often read your blog, so feeling very chuffed indeed

  2. My pleasure to do so, Jennifer… and it’s nice to know you read my blog. Thank you. You might like some of my other blogs, listed in the LH column of each of them.

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