Because Amelia Smiled

Overview

Just try not to smile! A positively inspiring picture book from the creator of the Caldecott Honor–winning Interrupting Chicken.

Because Amelia smiles as she skips down the street, her neighbor Mrs. Higgins smiles too, and decides to send a care package of cookies to her grandson Lionel in Mexico. The cookies give Lionel an idea, and his idea inspires a student, who in turn inspires a ballet troupe in England! And so the good feelings that started with Amelia’s smile make their ...

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Overview

Just try not to smile! A positively inspiring picture book from the creator of the Caldecott Honor–winning Interrupting Chicken.

Because Amelia smiles as she skips down the street, her neighbor Mrs. Higgins smiles too, and decides to send a care package of cookies to her grandson Lionel in Mexico. The cookies give Lionel an idea, and his idea inspires a student, who in turn inspires a ballet troupe in England! And so the good feelings that started with Amelia’s smile make their way around the world, from a goodwill recital in Israel, to an impromptu rumba concert in Paris, to a long-awaited marriage proposal in Italy, to a knitted scarf for a beloved niece back in New York. Putting a unique spin on "what goes around comes around," David Ezra Stein’s charmingly illustrated story reminds us that adding even a small dose of kindness into the world is sure to spur more and more kindness, which could eventually make its way back to you!

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A series of kindly acts comes full circle in this heartwarming, yet never saccharine story from Stein (Interrupting Chicken). “Because Amelia smiled, coming down the street... Mrs. Higgins smiled, too. She thought of her grandson, Lionel, in Mexico and baked some cookies to send to him.” Lionel’s reaction to his grandmother’s gift spurs one of his students to become a kickboxing instructor; her video makes its way to England, inspiring virtuous acts in Israel, Paris, Italy, and back around to Amelia in New York City. Stein’s spreads are dense with colored pencil and crayon lines and crammed with visual information. Lionel can be seen in his second-story apartment in an unnamed Mexican city, but Stein draws Lionel’s whole neighborhood, with its tiled roofs, food cart, starry night sky, a dog—and that’s just one spread. Night and day, light and shadow, groups of old and young people spending time together: it’s a satisfying portrait of the feast of life. Even youngest children will grasp the idea that good deeds and positivity beget more of the same. Ages 3–7. Agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
A playfully profound picture book that does its part in passing on good feelings.
—Kirkus Reviews
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
The story begins with a view of a busy city in the pouring rain. On the next double page, a girl named Amelia smiles as she dashes through the rain holding hands with her mother and father. And because she smiles, Mrs. Higgins, watching from her window, smiles too. Thinking of her grandson Lionel in Mexico, she bakes some cookies to send him. Lionel shares them with his class and teaches them a song. Because of this, one of his students decides to become a teacher. She puts a video of herself dancing online. From this video, a ballet club in England adds new moves to their recital in Israel. A little boy there decides he likes dancing, and dances his brother to sleep. The results move a band to Paris, an ex-clown to Italy, and eventually back to New York. A subway scene, a rooftop, and the pigeons that fly from there all lead to making Amelia smile again. "Pass it on," is the moral. Pencil, water-soluble crayon, and watercolors create cheerful detailed scenes and believable characters. We can sense the rain on the title page, and want to join the happy students in song in Lionel's class. The brief text on the bottom of pages is almost redundant because of the clarity of the illustrations. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 2–4—Because Amelia smiles, Mrs. Higgins smiles as well. She thinks of her grandson in Mexico and decides to bake cookies for him. Lionel shares them with his class and teaches them a song, setting off a chain of events that spans the globe from the U.S. to Mexico to Europe and back. Stein's simple text reminds readers that what goes around comes around, and that the simplest of gestures can impact a multitude of people. Outstanding illustrations in bold, vintage Stein portray the busy streets of New York, a plaza in Mexico, a stage in Israel, an outdoor café in Paris, an oceanfront in Italy, and more, depicting how a simple smile brought happiness to many people all over the world. Dynamic blends of crayon and watercolor create an impressionistic scene that still conveys eye-catching detail. The visual elements will capture readers' attention, and the story offers valuable opportunities for discussion of how one person's actions can influence events far beyond their own surroundings.—C. J. Connor, Campbell County Public Library, Cold Spring, KY
Kirkus Reviews
Amelia's smile, brought on by a rain shower and seen by a neighborhood grandmother, catalyzes a cheery chain of happy consequences. The ripple of resultant good acts (the grandmother makes her grandson cookies, he teaches his class a song about cookies, one of his students then decides to become a teacher...) travels from New York to Mexico, England, Israel, Paris, Italy and finally back to New York. This streaming story, with its lively artwork and satisfying page turns, allows even young readers to see the interconnectedness of people, the effects of open-hearted deeds and the contagion of happiness. Indefatigable linework (in pencil, water soluble crayon and watercolor) encourages readers to explore every corner of the page, from every angle. Energy zigzags across the illustrations, showing each teeming locale, rendered jaggedly and joyfully. Such dizzying inclusion makes sense in a book about how we're inextricably bound together in this kooky world, but readers might feel adrift in these busy, sometimes murky pictures. There's little variation in color saturation and therefore no visual relief or fixed point of focus. Stein manages to expand and reduce the world at once, jumping across wide oceans, countries and continents while connecting the teeny-tiny lives of individuals. When the chain of smiles comes full circle, returning to Amelia and making her grin, readers smile too. A playfully profound picture book that does its part in passing on good feelings. (Picture book. 4-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763641696
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 9/11/2012
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 136,003
  • Age range: 3 - 7 Years
  • Lexile: AD760L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.00 (w) x 10.70 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

David Ezra Stein is the author-illustrator of Interrupting Chicken, which was awarded a Caldecott Honor. His previous books include Leaves, winner of an Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award. He lives in Kew Gardens, New York.

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