In this picture book, colorful, inviting illustrations pair with simple text to show the many dimensions of a smile.
What’s in a smile? Author Schmidt and illustrator Olds dig beyond the obvious to reveal smiling nuances to children: the metallic smile of a girl wearing new braces, an uneasy smile from another girl about to perform at a piano recital and her parents’ encouraging smiles in the audience. “Smiles say please. Smiles say thank you,” states a page illustrated by pictures of a smiling young boy near a cookie jar, an adult’s hand on the lid; the boy smiles even wider when he finally holds the desired cookie in his hand. No overarching story connects these vignettes, which can make the book feel a little haphazard. However, that allows the author and illustrator to employ an array of people and situations to develop a theme: “Smiles are a language used around the world. Smiles are used by young and old.” Many of the colorful illustrations tell solid stories even if they don’t coalesce into a strong narrative. In some places, the pictures surpass the text, which can be wordy or generic. For instance, Schmidt could have somehow shortened “Smiles say how happy I am to see you” to bring it in line with the standard cadence of “Smiles say please” and avoid slowing the established rhythm. The book ends with a rhyming couplet but otherwise avoids rhyme, which might have made the book too cutesy.
A gleeful blend of text and pictures that shows the power of good cheer.