I found And Yet They Were Happy on the "New Fantasy Fiction" shelf at the public library, and I was immediately drawn to how different it looked from the other books surrounding it. In a sea of mass market paperback-sized novels, with covers of purple and black that feature wizards on the cover, Helen Phillips' lemon-yellow, simply illustrated cover stood out as something unique.
The same could be said of the text of the book itself. And Yet They Were Happy is not a novel, it does not tell the story of a young hero on an epic quest, magic doesn't appear through spells and wizards, and I don't remember seeing a single elf. Honestly, I'm a bit surprised that it was shelved with the other fantasy novels.
But I'm so glad that it was.
Because, you see, the magic in And Yet They Were Happy is in the language and imagery of the text itself. It is the magic of crisp imagery, precise wording, and direct sentences. And as such, this is a magic that has the power to travel outside of its story, into the books next to it on the shelves.