Because Amelia Smiled {with Giveaway}

by Dawn


One rainy day, as she ran down a New York City street between her parents, a little girl named Amelia smiled. Maybe it was in response to their attempts at dodging the drops, or maybe she simply enjoyed the feel of the cool rain. Whatever the reason, Amelia’s little grin started a chain reaction of shared happiness in David Ezra Stein’s new picture book Because Amelia Smiled.

If you’re a contemporary picture book lover like me, you’ll surely recognize Stein’s name from his hilarious 2010 romp, Interrupting Chicken, a book I happily promoted on our site when it was a Cybils Awards nominee before it went on to win the award for the best picture book! (Click that link to read about why I love it so much!) While that little chicken cracked me up, this newest offering is much more touching and endearing than humorous.

Following the idea that one good thing leads to another, Amelia’s lovely little smile is observed by a woman looking out her window, who smiles, too, as a result. That smile gets her thinking about her grandson living in Mexico, and she decides to bake him some cookies. When her grandson receives those homemade cookies, they’re so delicious he has to share them with his class, while teaching them a song in English. And so the happiness goes on, from those students in Mexico via some cookies to a ballet club in England thanks to a video posted online, all the way to a child watching a dance show in Israel! The effects of that smile continue to travel around the world until they return again to New York. As you might have guessed, the story comes full circle, with Amelia’s adorable face lighting up in another smile in the closing pages.

I really value the idea at the heart of Because Amelia Smiled– one little smile can bring much joy to many people. What a powerful message for young children to hear! When I read this to my younger children recently, my six year old daughter let out a happy sigh at the end. “Oh, I just love that. The smile just went around and around.” Another highlight according to her are “all the colors in the pictures,” a deft way to describe Stein’s sketchy and highly colorful illustrations that convey movement and action so well.

In fact, as part of the promotion of this joyful book, Candlewick Press sent me and my children some smiles-on-sticks to get a little goofy in place of our regular grins. I, of course, have a ton of pics of my kids with these, but I’ll take just one moment of your time to share my six-year-old daughter’s silly smile, as she’s a huge fan of this great book.

I had the fabulous opportunity to chat with David Ezra Stein this past weekend at the Library of Congress’s National Book Festival. What I loved most among the things he said during our conversation was that Because Amelia Smiled was simply something he felt he “needed to do.” He says he envisions this book as a lap book to be shared with children of all ages, with various levels of explanation or discussion with different aged children. He sees many different ways that adults can help children connect to the story, which is so heartfelt. I especially enjoyed the way he described a child’s experience with his illustrations: “Kids can definitely fall into the pictures.” The warm spirit that is alive in Because Amelia Smiled was evident in Stein’s personality, and I thank him for taking a few minutes to talk with me, a huge fan! (And for taking a photo with me and my oldest son!)

Are you ready to smile? We have a copy of this sweet picture book to give away to one lucky reader. Please leave a comment to be entered to win. (US shipping addresses only, please.) We’ll announce our winner in our October 10th giveaway column. This giveaway is now closed.

Dawn’s adoration of picture books gets indulged every day in her preschool classroom and when reading with her own children. When she gets a chance, she tries to blog just a little bit at my thoughts exactly.

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Email Author    |    Website About Dawn

When she's not reviewing books, Dawn (and her online alter ego, morninglight mama) can be found blogging at my thoughts exactly and contributing to The DC Moms.

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Karen September 26, 2012 at 9:01 am

I haven’t read this book yet, but based on your review, I’ll wait to see whether I win and then go out and buy it when I, inevitably, don’t :)

I love how a children’s book can open up a way to talk about kindness, and am reminded of how my son’s kindergarten class was forever changed when the kids strove to be “bucket-fillers” ala _Have You Filled a Bucket Today?_ It gave this bunch of rambunctious little five-year olds a meaningful vocabulary for thinking about the effects their actions had on others. What a beautiful thing to watch!


2 Sheila K. September 26, 2012 at 10:05 am

This would make a great gift for my niece—thanks for the opportunity to win a copy!


3 Jen N September 26, 2012 at 10:07 am

I love picture books, too!
Thanks for this giveaway- our family would enjoy sharing the smile!


4 diane September 26, 2012 at 11:15 am

What a wonderful giveaway. Fabulous for my granddaughter.


5 Donna L September 26, 2012 at 1:36 pm

I would love to win this book for my granddaughter. Thanks for the chance!


6 Jessica T September 26, 2012 at 4:00 pm

Looks sweet! Would love to win for my kids – or maybe as a gift for my new niece or nephew!


7 Katie September 26, 2012 at 5:00 pm

Wow, sounds wonderful. I love the cross-cultural themes. Would love to share this book!


8 Cindi September 26, 2012 at 7:08 pm

I love the cover of this Amelia book and adore
the smiles on a stick…Both are very clever
ideas! Many thanks for the special chance to
win this delightful book.


9 Carolyn September 26, 2012 at 9:08 pm

Winning this book would make my kids smile! :)


10 Fides September 26, 2012 at 10:21 pm

This books sounds amazing. It inspires me to write and I know my kids would enjoy it a lot!


11 Wehaf September 27, 2012 at 12:52 am

This sounds absolutely delightful!


12 riTa September 27, 2012 at 5:43 pm

I LOVE reading books to the grandkids when they come over and they expect book time before bed.
riTa recently posted..2012 Week 38:My Profile


13 Clair September 28, 2012 at 6:38 pm

This looks like a great book to share with my nieces or my students. I would love to win.


14 Staci A September 29, 2012 at 12:01 pm

This sounds like a wonderful book. I’d love to read it with my boys!


15 Beth C September 29, 2012 at 4:35 pm

This looks like a very good book! Thanks!


16 Samantha W September 29, 2012 at 10:32 pm

i love picture books, great giveaway


17 Amy September 30, 2012 at 12:01 pm

What a wonderful giveaway! I just reviewed the book on my blog ( and I just love the positive spirit that’s captured in the story. I think we all, big or small, young or old, often need a reminder to focus on bringing positive energy into our daily lives.
Amy recently posted..Book #273: Because Amelia Smiled by David Ezra SteinMy Profile


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