Allison's Book Bag

Because Amelia Smiled by David Ezra Stein

Posted on: April 4, 2013

For me to read a picture book to my husband, it has to be either very good or very bad. In the case of Because Amelia Smiled, it’s because it is very good. It’s the type of picture book that I also wouldn’t hesitate to read to my students who, at age ten, think they are far too old for picture books. Told in a circular style, where the ending leads back to the beginning, Because Amelia Smiled by David Ezra Stein is delightful fun. As are the inviting illustrations with their dynamic blend of crayon and watercolor.

What appeals to me so much about Because Amelia Smiled? I have to admit that I enjoy the circular style, despite its critics, which is also found in Laura Numeroff’s entertaining Give a Mouse A Cookie series. The structure is simple to understand by the youngest and oldest readers, and so somehow calms me. It’s nice to know that in some universe, there’s a happy and logical outcome to everything.

Then there’s the positive message which Stein conveyed through the actions of his multiple characters: If you smile, you might have a ripple effect across your neighborhood, town, or maybe even the world. After all, because Amelia smiled, her neighbor baked cookies for her grandson in Mexico, who in turn ate one of the cookies, who in turn…. Can you parents and teachers just imagine all the original circular stories this book might inspire your kids to write?

Finally, there’s the clever way in which Stein created a positive tribute to cultures across the world. He didn’t write an inspirational biography of individuals who overcome obstacles despite race. Nor did he tell a moralistic story about how everyone should get along despite their differences. He didn’t even simply write a book with the lead belonging to a person from another culture. All these are fine, but I loved how, by simply taking readers on a whimsical trip around the world, Stein created a positive impression of our global community. In the future, fans of his book will want to meet people from different cultures and travel to diverse areas such as Mexico, England, and Israel. All because Amelia smiled!

For the past month, I have been reading multicultural books from our local MOSAIC, hoping to find new gems. Because Amelia Smiled is one of my favorites and, as such, makes a perfect end to my study.

My rating? Bag it: Carry it with you. Make it a top priority to read.

How would you rate this book?


2 Responses to "Because Amelia Smiled by David Ezra Stein"

This sounds like a great book, Allison. I’ll have to check it out.

Because Amelia Smiled is currently my favorite picture book find of the year. 🙂

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I am focusing this year on other commitments. Once a month, I’ll post reviews of Advanced Reader Copies. Titles will include: Freddy Frogcaster and the Flash Flood by Janice Dean, One Two by Igor Eliseev, Incredible Magic of Being by Kathyrn Erskine, Dragon Grammar Book by Diane Robinson, and Wide as the Wind by Edward Stanton.



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