SMILE by Gary Golio


How Young Charlie Chaplin Taught the World to Laugh (and Cry)
by ; illustrated by
Age Range: 6 - 12
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Children meet Chaplin in this intimate biography of the iconic silent-film comedian, whose movies, humor, and story grow ever more distant to each generation of readers.

Children unaware of Chaplin will immediately feel moved by young Charlie’s bleak origins: an empty stomach, dancing for pennies, an absent father and sick mother, and frequent moves in and out of the poorhouse. They will pull for him hamming it up in a children’s theater troupe and stand beside him watching “old Rummy Binks,” a local eccentric, outside a pub holding horses for pennies. Charlie would later appropriate Binks’ baggy clothes, bowler hat, crooked cane, and funny penguin walk to become his own Little Tramp, making the close association between laughter and tears. Young’s collages harness muddy and murky colors, silhouettes, torn papers, threadbare burlap and floral fabrics, jaundiced newspapers, and ink linework to evoke both Victorian times and the silent-film era. A succinct afterword, facts, and resources section offers kid-friendly biographical highlights, films, and books to encourage further exploration of this extraordinary comedian, filmmaker, and composer. Observant readers might notice the black silhouette of a little tramp in the bottom-right corner of each spread. Those intuitive enough to flip the pages will delight in a primitive but undeniably magical experience.

Readers who watch him waddle their way and extend a wave are certain to return his timeless greeting. (Picture book/biography. 6-12)

Pub Date: March 26th, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-7636-9761-7
Page count: 48pp
Publisher: Candlewick
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2019


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