Smile: How Young Charlie Chaplin Taught the World to Laugh (and Cry) by Gary Golio, illustrated by Ed Young. Candlewick, 2019. ISBN 9780763697617
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4
What did you like about the book? Poetic prose tells the story of how this son of London stage performers becomes one of the most celebrated actors of the early 20th century. Alternately homeless and living in the poorhouse for much of his childhood, the kid learns about human nature by observing everyone around him on the street and on the stage, which is what made him so beloved: he really learned how to communicate the tragedy and comedy of human existence. I love how effectively this particular skill is described, so that kids see that it wasn’t just luck or looks that catapulted him to stardom. Ed Young’s collage and ink art uses black and white space as a nod to early movies. Great sources at the end, including notes on the “Little Tramp” character, milestones of Chaplin’s life, sources, and recommended Chaplin movies.
Anything you didn’t like about it? The collage and ink illustrations are artistic and abstract and don’t add to the understanding of the time or character.
To whom would you recommend this book? For kids ages 5 and up who like old movies. It would make a good read aloud for K – 2 classrooms.
Who should buy this book? Elementary school and public libraries
Where would you shelve it ? Children’s biography
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes – there aren’t many picture book biographies of Chaplin.
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA
Date of review: March 28, 2019