cover image Because Amelia Smiled

Because Amelia Smiled

David Ezra Stein. Candlewick, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-7636-4169-6

A series of kindly acts comes full circle in this heartwarming, yet never saccharine story from Stein (Interrupting Chicken). “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’s reaction to his grandmother’s gift spurs one of his students to become a kickboxing instructor; her video makes its way to England, inspiring virtuous acts in Israel, Paris, Italy, and back around to Amelia in New York City. Stein’s spreads are dense with colored pencil and crayon lines and crammed with visual information. Lionel can be seen in his second-story apartment in an unnamed Mexican city, but Stein draws Lionel’s whole neighborhood, with its tiled roofs, food cart, starry night sky, a dog—and that’s just one spread. Night and day, light and shadow, groups of old and young people spending time together: it’s a satisfying portrait of the feast of life. Even youngest children will grasp the idea that good deeds and positivity beget more of the same. Ages 3–7. Agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (Sept.)