Shiny Happy People: A Children’s Picture Book song lyrics by R.E.M. and illustrations by Paul Hoppe

R.E.M.’s hit song is brought to life in this joyful picture book celebrating friendship and togetherness.

R.E.M. burst into the music scene in 1980 and mainstream acceptance was a slow one at first. They caught the attention of everybody 7 years later with their first hit in 1987, “The One I Love”. 

R.E.M.’s lyrics have always been exceptional by nature. The alternative band blossomed in the 90s with their album Out of Time album which received seven nominations at the 34th Annual Grammy Awards.

The album’s second single, “Shiny Happy People” (one of three songs on the record to feature vocals from Kate Pierson of fellow Athens band the B-52’s), was also a major hit, reaching number 10 in the US and number six in the UK. Paul Hoppe has taken the lyrics of Shiny Happy People and turned them into a thing of art.

This book is ideal for fans and for kids to listen to and read with their parents. R.E.M. has lyrical content that has always been visual in nature, this is the perfect song to draw inspiration from.

“Shiny happy people laughing
Everyone around, love them, love them
Put it in your hands, take it, take it
There’s no time to cry, happy, happy . . .”

“The story is simple, but careful readers will note that color plays a large role—fiery reds and oranges denote conflict, while vibrant blues, purples, and pinks surround the happy folks at the end. While the song on which the book is based has somewhat dark, ironic undertones—it was released two years after the Tiananmen Square uprising, and the titular phrase was taken from Chinese propaganda posters—the illustrations match the pop feel of the melody, with an upbeat tone that will resonate with kids. A pop song finds new life as a simple yet heartfelt story of acceptance.” —Kirkus Reviews

R.E.M. was a Georgia-born alternative rock band best known for their hits “Losing My Religion” and “Everybody Hurts.” Founding members Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, and Michael Stipe played their first show on April 5, 1980, at a friend’s birthday party in an abandoned church in Athens, Georgia. From that point forward until 2011, when they decided to call it a day, the band released fifteen albums, toured the world, won multiple GRAMMYs, two Billboard Music Awards, twelve MTV Video Music Awards, and were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, leaving a lasting legacy of great songs that defined an era.

Paul Hoppe has illustrated various children’s books, including Good Vibrations, with song lyrics by Mike Love and Brian Wilson; How Did Humans Go Extinct? by Johnny Marciano; Neymar: A Soccer Dream Come True by Mina Javaherbin; and The Woods, which he also wrote. His work has appeared in publications such as the New Yorker, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times. During the summer, Hoppe teaches sequential art at the School of Visual Arts. His work has been honored by the Society of Illustrators, Communication Arts, and American Illustration, among others. Originally from Poland and raised in Germany, Hoppe works from a shared studio in the Pencil Factory in Brooklyn and lives in Queens.

ShinYeon Moon is an illustrator, educator, and aspirational shiny happy person based in New York. She holds an MFA in Illustration as Visual Essay from the School of Visual Arts. Moon’s work can be found in print and online publications as well as gallery exhibitions.