Monday, October 15, 2012

Because Amelia Smiled

Horn Book (September/October, 2012)

What goes around comes around, to excellent global effect: it’s pouring as Amelia runs down the street, holding her smiling parents’ hands as they lark through puddles on comfortably shod feet. Where some kids might grumble at the weather, Amelia’s rain-spattered grin is so contagious that it prompts old Mrs. Higgins to bake cookies for her grandson in Mexico -- who shares them and a song with his class, which inspires one grateful student to become a teacher of dance and make a video that’s shown in faraway England. The good vibes voyage on to Israel, Paris, and more, prompting a marriage, among other happy events, and eventually completing a circuit (via TV) back to New York and Amelia herself. 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. joanna rudge long

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