Smile! by Leigh Hodgkinson

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Smile! by Leigh Hodgkinson

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Category: For Sharing
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Keith Dudhnath
Reviewed by Keith Dudhnath
Summary: A delightful picture book about a little girl looking for her smile. Smile! is a sweet tale, beautifully illustrated. It's also a masterpiece of design, weaving its component parts together into a glorious whole. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: April 2009
Publisher: Orchard
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1408301814

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Sunny McCloud's mum tells her she can't have any more biscuits before tea. (By the way, Sunny isn't sulking). On a completely unrelated note, Sunny's smile has gone missing, so she hunts high and low throughout her house, hoping to find it. It's not under her bed, it's not down the back of the sofa, or in her pocket. She's offering a reward of one humbug, but the twins, Glittergills or Mr Honeycomb haven't seen it. What if it's lost in the big wide world?

Smile! oozes happiness. It's a wonderfully quirky tale, presented in a fresh style - Leigh Hodgkinson's illustrations have the look of (perfect) drawings by children, with each page weaving the pictures and text together to create a glorious whole. She plays around with fonts and diagrams, mixes outline-only backgrounds with the colourful main characters, all in all creating a masterpiece of book design. It's not design for the sake of design - first and foremost it's a book to read - but it's a book to savour page by page, rather than romp through.

I suppose what I like best about Smile! is that it trusts its readers, regardless of how young they are. When you sit and overanalyse it, a hunt for a smile is a bizarre and abstract concept. Kids get the joke, and Leigh Hodgkinson knows they do. They get the joke of playing cards with a dog, and of wondering if a floor is made of jelly. It's not a surreal book - it's just a gentle tale of a search for happiness - but it approaches it from an oblique angle, and it really pays off.

Browsing Leigh Hodgkinson's website,, will give you a feel for her design style. It's a fun website to explore, but I don't think it's a patch on exploring her books. Have a quick look around there, and then Smile!

My thanks to the publishers for sending it to Bookbag.

Leigh Hodgkinson's previous book, Colin and the Wrong Shadow, also involves an odd hunt, this time by a cat; it's great fun too. Don't Read This Book! by Jill Lewis and Deborah Allwright blends the text and illustrations together to a similar standard to Smile! It will also make you smile. Smile!

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Buy Smile! by Leigh Hodgkinson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Smile! by Leigh Hodgkinson at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Smile! by Leigh Hodgkinson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Smile! by Leigh Hodgkinson at


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