Wednesday, May 25, 2016

*Review* Willow's Smile by Lana Button

Genre: Children's Illustrated
Published: April 5, 2016
Pages: 32


“Sometimes Willow smiled without even trying. But sometimes when she wished she could and knew she should, her smile slipped straight off her face.” So when her teacher tells the class that Picture Day is coming, shy Willow starts to worry. What if she isn't able to smile for the camera? How can she have her picture taken without smiling? But then on Picture Day, Willow gets the opportunity to watch the other children being photographed. She sees that all of her friends' expressions are unique, and perfect in their own way. And by the time it's her turn, she's realized that she doesn't need to worry about smiling for her picture. She just needs to be herself. 

In this sweet picture book, author Lana Button has created a relatable and reassuring story that offers children a terrific model for how to deal with a difficult experience in a socially and emotionally competent way. The simple illustrations by Tania Howells beautifully capture the story's focus through the range of emotions so clearly expressed by Willow and her classmates. This book provides opportunities for character lessons on self-respect, empathy and resilience. It would work for a classroom introduction to the annual ritual of Picture Day as well, a subject not often covered yet very significant to young children. It could also lead to a conversation about why we take pictures and what makes a great picture, and to activities such as making a class photo album.


I received a copy of this book through the Goodreads First Reads giveaway program in the hopes that I would leave an honest review.

The topic of this book seemed a bit strange to me. Granted it's been a while since my first school picture day, but I don't remember ever being nervous about it like Willow is. That led to a lot of eye-rolling on my part. It also makes me wonder if there is really a need for a book to help kids come to terms with the idea of school picture day.

My kids both enjoyed it. They liked how Willow helped everyone smile by being silly, and my 5 year old requested it for bedtime five nights in a row. She gets really excited when the pictures start being taken and the illustrations say "Flash". 

Overall I give Willow's Smile 4 out of 5 stars. 

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