Harper really likes picking things these days. She wants to pick what clothes she wears (preferably with friendly animals on them, which can then NOT be covered by sweaters presumably in case they suffocate), what spoon she uses, what tea she serves us with her tea set, etc. So the last time we went to library, it was no surprise when she started pulling books off the shelves and asking me to “check” them. One of the books she picked was Smile, by Leigh Hodgkinson, and I sort of stuck it in the pile and didn’t really examine it until we got home.
Guess what? She wants to read this book CONSTANTLY. She always requests it at bedtime — “Samal? Pease?” Tonight she wanted to bring it into her crib with her. She loves it! And guess what else? I like it too, lucky for me, not that I was really given much choice in the matter.
The book concerns Sunny, a usually chipper and cheerful girl who has, tragically, misplaced her smile. Hodgkinson’s illustrations are super cute, sometimes including little charts and things, and have a layered, textured feel; the text combines type and handwriting in a way that just begs to be read in what I imagine is Sunny’s expressive, charismatic voice. Sunny’s one of those sassy picture book characters you just sort of love — she reminds me a little of Olivia. And even though it’s one of the longer books Harper’s really gotten attached to, I’m not sick of it after 8,000 readings, which is always very exciting. So, for a dose of smileyness in the dark depths of winter, we recommend “Samal.”
PS — An interesting interview with the author/illustrator Leigh Hodgkinson is here.