It’s March Break here in Toronto. I’m not flying away to someplace warm (although it was 16 degrees here yesterday, so obviously I don’t really have to go anywhere to find the sun). Instead I am staying home, where I plan to write, make pies, read books, and watch too much 30 Rock.
I have been neglecting the blog a bit of late. This makes me sad. My excuse is that I’ve been trying to juggle a lot of things. I’ve been more or less managing to keep everything in the air, but I’ve decided to devote some well-deserved attention to the Elf this week. So everyday I’ll be posting a review of a picture book that is new to the library shelves at school. Think of it as a March Break Review-a-palooza. Good times, yes?
To begin, I’ve got Smile! by Leigh Hodgkinson. It’s a good place to start because it’s sunny and happy and I’m sure it will be a kid magnet as soon as I put it out on display. To give you a sense of the cute factor here, watch this:
You must be smiling now. (That music makes me want to be a cartoon character). The premise of Hodgkinson’s book is simple. Sunny is in a funk and she can’t find her smile. She goes hunting for it and in the process of looking, she starts enjoying herself and her smile returns.
I think that Hodginson has honed in on a particularly true experience for kids. Sometimes when you feel grouchy, all you want to do is think about feeling miserable but if you can do other things, suddenly you’ll realize that you don’t really remember what made you grumpy to begin with. I like that lesson. Stop feeling sorry for yourself and go do something already. It’s presented gently here, and the illustrations are completely charming. With the kid-like free style and the hand-lettering, you can almost imagine that Sunny could be behind the artwork herself. It certainly makes me think of Lauren Child, more in the voice than the illustrations, but the pictures are a little less busy than what you’ll find in some of Lauren Child’s books. Smile! is sweet as can be and a sure-fire cure for the grumps.
Reading Smile! has got me thinking that perhaps I should put together a “What are you so grumpy about?” display for the library. Sounds like a project for a rainy day in April…
Smile! is published by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of Harper Collins.