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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Birdy's Smile Book, written and illustrated by Laurie Keller. Henry Holt, H B Fenn, 2010. $19.99 ages 3 and up

"Smiling is easy. You can smile when you:
Say the alphabet
Climb a tree
Brush your teeth
Stand on your head
Build a snowman
Take out the garbage
Ride a zebra
Cross your eyes and hop on one foot
Blow your nose
Act like a monkey
Eat broccoli

Did I just say you can smile when you eat BROCCOLI?!?!
I would NEVER say that!
Who put that there?"

I wasn't sure I liked this book when I read it first; but, like all good things, the more time you spend with them the more appealing they become. I can't wait to read it to a classroom full of 'smiling' and happy kids and to watch their faces light up. What fun is that?

It is sure to have them snickering and enjoying the humor offered up by Birdy as she explains the true value of a smile. It doesn't really tell a story; rather, it acts as a guide to the concept. Birdy conducts the tour, often going on a tangent inspired by something she is sharing, including:

"I heard an old saying -
'Let a smile be your umbrella.'
I tried that once.
I got soaking wet.
So I made up a new saying -
'Let an umbrella be your umbrella.'"


"A smile can make a NOT-SO-GOOD thing seem...

Every page is funny, with Birdy firmly and constantly reminding us of the importance of our smiles...not only for ourselves, but for everyone we meet. She loves the idea that photographers often ask their subjects to 'say cheese'. If she had a chance to be a food, cheese is what she'd be! She loves smiling, and seeing its effect.

She shows her audience what happens when one smile leads to another, and then another, and then another until it reaches all the way to Timbuktu. If she can send her smile so far away, maybe she could send one to the moon. But, that will take a lot of practice!

The idea of practice leads the reader to the final suggestion:

"I better go practice my smiling,
(Hopefully we're not having broccoli for dinner!)

A quick look to the right and there's a round plastic mirror for all those who share this delightful book to get right to it....start practicing!
I like the illustrations which are done with mixed media, and warmth. Birdy is a wide-eyed, welcoming young lady whose humorous side is evident throughout the fun-filled pages. The font changes in size and color will hold the attention of the intended audience and show young writers some interesting techniques that they might try to enhance their own stories.

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