Augustus and His Smile

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Editorial Reviews

From The Critics
Newcomer Rayner brings an inspired, Zen-like minimalism to this uplifting tale about a tiger who has lost his smile and is determined to find it. Far from being a cute, cuddly cartoon, Augustus is a magnificent beauty, painted in loose, flowing strokes of black and orange that simultaneously suggest his power and peaceful nature. The giant feline roams through mountain, ocean, and desert, encountering other creatures-but alas,no smile. In the end, it's in a clear puddle that he finally discovers his elusive quarry: "Augustus realized that his smile would be there whenever he was happy" and "happiness was everywhere around him." (Ages 4 to 6)
Child magazine's Best Children's Book Awards 2006
Publishers Weekly
Scottish author and artist Rayner combines a poetic sensibility with textured backgrounds and sweeping brushstrokes in this understated, visually dramatic story of one tiger's quest. Engulfed in sadness, Augustus embarks on a search for his missing smile. Muted colors and full-bleed spreads contain both spongy washes and bold shapes in earth tones that lend the tale a solemn air. The hero begins his search under low-hanging branches; leaves in solid shades of gold and dusty green dangle over the big cat, rendered in a fury of black ink and brushstrokes with pastel smudges of amber and rust. "He climbed to the tops of the tallest trees./ He found birds that chirped and called,/ but he couldn't find his smile." Next, he climbs mountains and searches the ocean depths, all to no avail. Rayner's strategic use of stark changes in scale and color emphasizes the lengths to which Augustus will go. His small silhouetted form appears atop a jutting black triangular mountain ridge outlined against a stormy purple sky; next, he appears to grow larger as he swims in an aquamarine sea with a school of multi-colored fish; he looks larger still, while prowling against the full-bleed burnt-orange backdrop of the desert, his shadow looming across the spread. Although Augustus's ultimate realization that "his smile would be there whenever he was happy" provides a pat conclusion, the masterful art will engage readers on a deeply sensual level. Ages 4-7. (May) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Phyllis Kennemer
Augustus the tiger is sad because he has lost his smile. He does a huge stretch and sets out to find it. His journey takes him under bushes, to the tops of trees, over mountains, into the ocean, through the desert, and ends in a drenching rainstorm. Along the way he sees a shiny beetle, singing birds, snow clouds, tiny fish, and long shadows. He does not see his smile. The reader, however, discovers that Augustus's smile is appearing and gradually growing as he scampers about in his search. By the time he feels the first raindrops, his smile is filling his face. After dancing in the rain, he spots a newly formed puddle and when he looks into it, sure enough, he finds his smile. He also comes to the realization that his smile will always be there whenever he is happy. Large colorful illustrations contrast nicely with the mostly white backgrounds as Augustus embarks on his joyful jaunt. A good read aloud choice for young children.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-Augustus the tiger has lost his smile. Not knowing where to find it, he begins a quest that takes him all over the world. He explores jungles, deserts, and oceans while searching for it, and finally finds it by looking in a pool of water. He comes to the realization that all of the things he has experienced will bring back his missing smile any time he thinks of them. Rayner has created a simple, poetic story that will have children speculating about what makes them feel good. The underlying theme of the enjoyment of the natural world will also help them articulate what parts they like best. The art matches the simplicity of the large-print text. Each spread has shapes or creatures that symbolize the area that the protagonist is currently visiting (large overlapping leaves for the jungle, a school of fish for the ocean, etc.). The illustrations work well with the spare narrative, giving viewers an idea of the expanse of the environments without becoming cluttered. The settings are soothing and majestic in contrast to the tiger's movement and energy. This book will suit storytimes, where children will smile along with Augustus.-Susan E. Murray, Glendale Public Library, AZ Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Arresting art props up sketchy, uninspired writing in this tale of a tiger who sets out in search of his lost smile. Feeling sad, Augustus stretches and pads off, encountering a beetle and birds, fish, frost, mountains, shadows, desert, rain and, finally, a puddle in which he sees that his smile has returned-which brings him to the twin realizations that "his smile would be there whenever he was happy," and that "happiness was everywhere around him." Throwing down black paint for the stripes and filling in the body and square-nosed face with vigorously applied ink and color, Rayner creates a tiger every bit as powerfully impressive as the one in Marcia Brown's Caldecott Medal-winning Once a Mouse (1961). In a subtle touch that observant young readers will pick up long before Augustus himself does, he actually restores his smile almost immediately. Too bad the story isn't quite as strong as the visuals. (Picture book. 5-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781561485109
  • Publisher: Good Books
  • Publication date: 4/28/2006
  • Pages: 28
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: AD620L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.50 (w) x 10.30 (h) x 0.50 (d)

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