Because Amelia Smiled

Because Amelia Smiled178344784Because Amelia Smiled

David Ezra Stein, author and illustrator

Candlewick Press, Fiction,  September 2012

Suitable for:  Ages 4 -8

Theme:  A child’s smile inspires happiness, kindness and love

Opening/Synopsis“Because Amelia smiled, coming down the street…Mrs. Higgins smiled, too.  She thought of her grandson, Lionel, in Mexico and baked some cookies to send to him.”  Lionel shares the cookies with his class and teaches them an English song.  His act inspires a student in his class to film her kickboxing skills, who in turn inspires a ballet club in England.  These acts of kindness start a ripple effect that takes the reader to England, Israel,  Paris, Italy and back to New York City and Amelia.  It only takes one big smile from a little girl to ignite a chain reaction from people around the world.

Why I like this book:  Stein’s book shows children the power of how we are all connected to people we know and don’t know.  Everything thing we do has an impact on someone else.   And, with the internet and social media, our actions within our global family becomes even more important.   With Amelia her unknowing act of kindness spreads like wildfire around the world.  Too often we see the negative and it is an inspiring message to share with children and adults.  And Stein urges readers of his book to “Pass it on.”  The illustrations are very detailed and done with pencil, water-soluble crayons, and watercolor.  Stein is the author-illustrator of Interrupting Chicken, which was awarded a Caldecott Honor.

Resources:  This picture book alone stands as a powerful tool for parents and teachers to encourage children to do acts of kindness at home, school,  and in their neighborhoods and communities. The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation is a great resource for classroom activities.  Candlewick has a page about the story behind the book.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book.  To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

40 thoughts on “Because Amelia Smiled

  1. This book looks great, Pat! I love the idea behind it. (I really love it – I had the same idea this week, although I hadn’t completely formulated how I was going to write it, but it’s a good thing you posted this or I might have written the same story :)) I love the message of kindness. This is a perfect book for our list. Thanks so much for adding it 🙂


  2. YAY Pat – I have this book on hold at B&N and now I cannot WAIT to pick it up! Thanks for a stellar review (and sneak peek for me!). My book today is about kindness, too, and there’s an author giveaway! Barbara


  3. What a beautiful book Pat. As I was reading your review I immediately thought of Amy Krouse Rosenthal and the beckoning of lovely videos. Her random acts!
    I love the message in this book, and what we do has a rippling effect.


  4. Great message and I love stories that show you other countries. It’s not easy to do and still be character led.


    • Catherine, I’m glad you liked the message. It was possible in the book because of social media. I liked the kindness spreading around the world and back to the child. But, it can be done with kids at home and in their communities.


  5. As I read your review, I nearly gasped out loud at the beauty of what happened “because Amelia smiled.” What a wonderful way to show kids how just one small act can have such an incredible ripple effect, and affect so many people positively. Thank you so much for introducing us to this book, Pat. I have a warm feeling inside just from reading your review — imagine what the book would do to me!


    • Thanks you Beth. What I liked about the story, was that the little girl was clueless of what her smile caused a ripple effect — as it should be sometimes. We never really know how we impact people by something small we say or do. A very important message for kids.


  6. Oh my…this sounds like it borrows a theme from the book Cloud Atlas (being released as a movie next week). In Cloud Atlas, a single kindness done in the past ripples through time and results in a revolution centuries later. I guess there is something to be said by “We are bound together past and present. Through each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.”


    • Michael, I always enjoy your thoughtful remarks about “being bound by past and present.” Will have to see Cloud Atlas when it’s released. It also reminds me of the movie “Pay it Forward.” But, the beauty is the child is unaware of what her smile does, but it comes back to her in the end. Great message for kids — especially with behavior.


  7. Wonderful! This shows the butterfly effect so well, going beyond the community impact a book like “Because Brian Hugged His Mother” has and taking it international. We had the opportunity to present at an after-school program this year where we taught about how one little thing done in one place can have an impact that you can’t even imagine. I’m so glad you’ve shared another book we can use to help tell that story! Another one in that theme is “How Full Is Your Bucket” (for kids).


    • Craig, I’m glad you enjoyed this new book. Loved the after-school program you did with children on this topic. Will have to check out the book you mentioned. I have read and reviewed over a year ago two similar books on “How Full Is Your Bucket.” All good books to get the message across.


  8. This sounds great. What a good message for kids — and it sounds like it shows it in a way that makes it understandable for them. I’m also glad someone finally explained the premise of Cloud Atlas. I’ve seen several previews for that movie, and was mystified by all of them. So thanks! 😉


  9. I really like the cover of the book. It makes me smile! I notice that ripple effect wherever I go. It is a real phenomenon. I think kids would really like this book and it could create a ripple of its own. Thanks for sharing. I’ll check this one out.


  10. I’m in love with the idea of this book! Something as small as a smile really can make a big impact on those around us, and it sounds like this book did a great job of showing that.


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