Saturday, March 06, 2010

Lost! Smile! by Leigh Hodgkinson

Mom says I can't have any more cookies until dinner. (And that includes crumbs and little broken pieces.)

By the way, I am definitely NOT sulking. I am not particularly chipper or chirpy either.

I have just realized something TERRIBLE!

I have lost my smile.

Sunny is annoyed that her pesky little twin brothers can still grin through it all, and in a bit of a pique decides there's nothing to do but look for that missing smile. She crayons a REWARD poster and posts it in the kitchen, but there are no takers. Sunny backtracks to her bedroom to see if she can find her smile there, but the scene is pretty grim!

"Perhaps I dropped it on my floor (if there IS a floor under all this stuff!)"

Sunny imagines her floor is a sea of pink jello, with all her stuff floating higgledy piggledy amongst assorted fish, but finally decides to look for her smile while she cleans up her room. The room finally looks brighter, but Sunny's face is still glum.

Downstairs, she finds her fish, Mr. Glittergills, also looking a bit down in the mouth. Even a shake of fish food flakes fails to uncover a smile in his bowl. Her mom points out that almost everything lost turns up either in the sofa, in somebody's pockets, or in their dog Honeycomb's sleeping basket. Sunny finds dad's missing flip-flop in Honeycomb's bed ("I think it's the FLOP one") and distracts herself with a game of cards with the dog. Five games later, Sunny is calm, but she's still not smiling.

Then Mom finds her and praises her for her spic and span room, for feeding the fish, finding the lost flip-flop, and playing with the dog, and Sunny suddenly finds herself with her lips turning up in a smile at last!

"We knew it would TURN UP!" say the twins.

Scratchy, childlike illustrations, tricks of text design, and first-person narration, very much in the style of Lauren Child's Charlie and Lola stories, make Leigh Hodkinson's newest, Smile! (Balzer and Bray, 2009) a sunny read for the picture book set.

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