cover image SMILE A LOT!


Nancy Carlson, . . Lerner/Carolrhoda, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-87614-869-3

A grinning green frog stars in Carlson's (the Harriet and George series) encouraging lesson about the power of positive thinking: "Life has all sorts of ups and downs./ That's why you should always smile a lot!" In Carlson's signature style, a framed panel introduces the pajama-clad amphibian against a busy orange and yellow backdrop; opposite, the titular advice ("Smile a Lot!") and a persuasive argument ("It's much easier than complaining") introduces an example in action. For instance, in the first of a trio of framed panels, he sticks out his tongue when his mother serves him "oatmeal with prunes." His grimace turns into a Cheshire cat–like grin ("Smile a Lot!") as he imagines other culinary options ("Ask if you can help her make chocolate chip pancakes tomorrow./ Then figure out what to do with your oatmeal"). The last panel shows the frog spoon-feeding a younger sibling. The format repeats throughout as the frog faces bullies on the playground, a low score on a spelling test and a grueling soccer practice. In each situation Carlson goes beyond "grin and bear it" to give readers a glimpse of karmic justice: in exchange for his upbeat attitude, the frog is justly rewarded. Ages 3-8. (Aug.)