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Because Amelia Smiled
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Because Amelia Smiled

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  722 ratings  ·  198 reviews
Just try not to smile! A positively inspiring picture book from the creator of the Caldecott Honor–winning Interrupting Chicken.

Because Amelia smiles as she skips down the street, her neighbor Mrs. Higgins smiles too, and decides to send a care package of cookies to her grandson Lionel in Mexico. The cookies give Lionel an idea, and his idea inspires a student, who in turn
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published September 11th 2012 by Candlewick Press
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Average rating 3.89  · 
Rating details
 ·  722 ratings  ·  198 reviews

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Lisa Vegan
I haven’t been reading many picture books in recent months, but I’m really glad I read this one.

The pictures are wonderful. They sophisticated and fun, and I think they’re beautiful. I love the colors, the details, and the art style, which is reminiscent of the Impressionists.

The story is maybe a little too simplistic, but it does illustrate a fine point, and I did smile at the end, and I enjoyed the story. It’s definitely one I’d recommend for enjoyment and for lessons about how we’re all inter
Darshana Khiani
Jul 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed, cybils-2012
A sweet, tender story about how we are all inter-connected through a "butterfly effect" type of storyline. Amelia smile inspires Mrs. Higgins to bake cookies and send them to her son Lionel in Mexico. Lionel happy to receive the cookies, teaches his class a song about cookies, which inspires one of this students to become a teacher ... and the chain reaction of goodwill and inspiration continues across several other countries and eventually back to Amelia in the US.

The illustrations are gorgeous
May 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Amelia's infectious smile sets off a chain of random acts of kindness. This is a high energy "pay it forward" circular story with a feel good message for all ages. A lovely picture book that will serve as a gentle reminder that we can all make a difference. ...more
Jun 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Opening Move:
Raise your hand if you have ever read "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie?" or "If You Give a Mouse a Muffin?" [show the book to students]. What is the structure or pattern in these books? {student response} What about these books makes the story interesting? {student response} Today we are going to read "Because Amelia Smiled" by David Ezra Stein. This book is written with the same structure as these other books. What do you notice about the setting or characters in this book compared to
Nov 14, 2012 rated it liked it
We're all familiar with the chain reaction picture book, like If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. The idea is that because of one small action, a much greater one occurs at the end. Because Amelia Smiled is a bit of a twist on that trope. The chain reaction actually goes all over the world, and it doesn't get any bigger. It starts and ends with Amelia's smile, so it's circular, which is kind of cute. However, the around the world stuff is really, really random and kind of weird. It starts out with lit ...more
Apr 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
This is a sweet, circuitous story that speaks to the wide-ranging effects of an action, akin to the Butterfly effect. It's nice to think that a simple smile can trigger a string of positive and kind events all around the world.

The illustrations are a bit fuzzy/scratchy for my taste, but overall, they are colorful and complement the story nicely. It's a fun story to read aloud and we really enjoyed reading it together.

I don't know how many times I have mentioned it here, but I have the oddest c
Dec 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
This picture book with a positive message prompted me to think about the ripple effects our actions have and how one positive action (or even one negative action) can change the world. Dashing through the rain, Amelia smiles, setting off a domino effect as one person after another happens to take note of something pleasant and respond accordingly. For instance, a neighbor sees that smile and sends fresh-baked cookies to her grandson who is inspired to teach a song to his class. The reminder of h ...more
Feb 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Luann by: Lisa Vegan
The illustrations in this one are very different from Interrupting Chicken and Dinosaur Kisses, the two other books I've read by David Ezra Stein. They very much fit the story, and they give the reader a lot of detail to enjoy.

This is a great story for making you think. You just never know what effect your small actions, like smiling, will have on others.

The dedication reads: "To you: Pass it on!"
A version of Pay It Forward for kids? Maybe. Nothing is really done with the intention of paying it forward here, just something someone does in one place makes someone in another place feel good, so he does something nice, which makes someone else feel good, and on and on, from New York to Mexico to Paris and Israel and England and Italy. The connection may be a little loose, but the message remains strong: one person's action can make a difference, like ripples in the ocean. So be active. Make ...more
Lu Benke
...makes me smile. And gives me hope that we will get to a point that the discussion is no longer about the threat of new technologies to children and literacy. The illustrations were interesting if a bit cluttered. They were fun to pour over to see if I could uncover additional evidence of both old and new communication technology. Circular tale. Think global village and humans being human even if they have the latest ipad.
Mary Ann
Aug 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2nd, 4th, picture-books, 3rd
This book leaves ME smiling. I like the message that our spontaneous acts of kindness can impact those close to us as well as total strangers near and far. I worry a little bit that young kids will have troubles following all the leaps.
Oct 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
David Ezra Stein's artwork and narrative are blended perfectly in this marvelous journey of a single smile.

My full review:
Put me in mind of All the World by Scanlon, because of it's positive, yet simple message. If you are sentimental and you read it in storytime, be warned the last few pages might make your eyes water (mine did, must be allergies) ...more
Jack & Lily Wills
Apr 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
I love the message in this book, so I gave it 4 stars. However, I didn't love the drawings (too busy) and the events in the book almost had too much detail and got bogged down. But the message was great!! ...more
The specificity of the events, both mundane and outrageous, made my day.
Nov 06, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Fun story and concept, but really don't like the illustration style. ...more
Feb 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to June by: Pollly Ross and Katie Fitzgerald
Very sweet picture book that follows the effect of a smile around the world and back to the original smiler.
Apr 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Struggling to explain the butterfly effect to a child who needs to change their attitude? Say no more!
Feb 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A cheerful circle story of how Amelia’s smile went around the world and came back to her. It’s a great example of how others can feel our kindness!
Karen Stromquist
Dec 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I read this book as part of the United Methodist Women's Reading Program. It is a children's book but its message should be heard by all. It shows just what a random act, such as a smile, can affect the world. ...more
Sara Easterly
Jan 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
It’s a bright book — both in illustration style and subject matter — showing the infectious power of a smile and how we’re all connected as part of one big global village of love.

Complete review at
Jenn Adams
Sweet story about a series of kind actions that begins and ends with a smile. Recommended to me by a 2nd grader who loved the "chain reaction" ...more
Sep 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In David Ezra Stein’s Because Amelia Smiled, we see the chain reaction of one simple kind gesture as its ripple effects travel around the world, only to end right back where the story started. Stein uses minimal text on each page but fills his spreads with color and detail. His words tell of the act of kindness each character chooses, but his pencil, crayon, and watercolor illustrations allow readers to put themselves in the characters’ shoes, understand their lives, and feel their feelings.
Apr 25, 2014 added it
Shelves: multicultural

Text to world: Did you hear about the story in the news where the man in the McDonald’s drive thru paid for the order of the people behind him? Then those people paid for the next, and on and on and on. This is just like Amelia’s smile in this book, and the chain reaction it sets off.

Knowledge: What were some of the countries named in this book?
Comprehension: How are all of the events in this story connected?
Application: At the end Amelia smiled again. What might happen next if the story
Apr 03, 2016 added it
Shelves: author-study
Summary: Amelia smiles, and her actions affect the world around her and come back to her. Because she smiles, people do nice things for each other, which in turn causes people to do nice things for others.

Review: This book shares such a great message: one little action can have a major effect on the world around you. Energy is never destroyed, but passed on, and that positive energy from one positive action keeps moving. This can help kids understand how their actions affect each other. The ill
Sep 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
First, I want to say that I loved this book. Even for an adult it is so inspiring. The story of how one little girls smile can influence so many people around the world, just makes you want to smile. I believe that this book should win an award alone on the storyline, but I really believe it should win the 2013 Caldecott Medal. The illustrations in this book are beautiful. David Ezra Stein forms his own style of illustration with this book. It was said that he illustrated this picture with crayo ...more
Feb 28, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: storytime readers, parents who want established writers and illustrators
I am not really a fan of Stein's style of illustration. I think it is too hard for kids to follow, and this one at least was too complicatedly colorful. The story, while sweet, was a bit far fetched, to put it mildly. I think Stein had a great idea but I didn't care for the execution of it. I would reach for "I Like Your Buttons!" over this one. That uses a simpler color scheme, is more concrete and real to the kids I think. It is the same type of story: the consequences of a small action and ho ...more
When there are so many unhappy, disconnected people in the world, what a terrific message this picture book shares! This fantastic book helps readers understand that even though we feel powerless to be a part of the solution these days, something as simple as smiling can set a chain of events in motion that spreads love and good will. Amelia smiles as she and her parents run down the street in the rain. A woman sees this and decides to make cookies for her son in Mexico. Sharing the cookies with ...more
Oct 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
In a pay-it-forward plot, Amelia’s smile starts a chain of events: cookies sent to Mexico, a kickboxing video inspiring an English Ballet club in Israel, a Parisien make-over for a band that results in Gregor proposing to Phyllis-the tight-rope walker-in Italy, which inspires the Pigeon Man to let his pigeons fly free over New York. Bringing the story back full-circle, guess what Amelia does when she sees them? Told with detailed, vibrant “Stein-line” illustrations (crayon on waxy labels transfe ...more
Dec 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
There are three reasons I love this book - in the following order:

1) The illustrations are amazing!!! I opened the book onto the main title page, and was completely caught up in the double-page illustration. (Of the title page!!!) There is so much going on. The world is colorful even though it is raining. There is movement in the pictures. Each picture is irresistible.

2) The story travels around the world, and includes people of all ages, colors and nationalities. This adds a level of significan
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David Ezra Stein is an author-illustrator whose previous books include LEAVES, winner of an Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award. He lives in Kew Gardens, New York.

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