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.)
David Ezra Stein’s crayon art is playful and vivid.
—The New York Times
A playfully profound picture book that does its part in passing on good feelings.
Realistic, heavily colored, and intensely detailed, the illustrations invite children to look closely and see the way people across the globe are connected: the smiles, the pets, the music. Certainly there’s a lot to discuss here, and some adults may want kids to make connections with their own actions, but this is also just a lovely way to look at life.
A series of kindly acts comes full circle in this heartwarming, yet never saccharine story from Stein. . . . Stein’s spreads are dense with colored pencil and crayon lines and crammed with visual information. . . . 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.
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.
—School Library Journal
Salutary good humor and a series of related events are both reliable picture book patterns; their up-to-date transmission here, however, is particularly effective, as are Stein’s cheerfully energetic illustrations in pencil, water-soluble crayon, and watercolor. His main characters are scruffy and fascinatingly individual, his settings are exuberant with color and light, and both are sure to elicit smiles in any kind of weather.
—The Horn Book
Will nicely suit parents who hope to impart the value of pay-it-forward kindness to their children.
—Wall Street Journal
Teems with cheer and vigor, the illustrations bursting to the sides of each spread and rushing with color all around.
—Kirkus Reviews Children's blog
This book made me smile, it even made me get all misty-eyed from happiness, it darn well made me glad to be alive, and it made me want to stand on the corner and hand a copy to everyone I see.
—Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
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
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)