2 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
Sugar is very self-conscious. She is supposed to perform at a talent show at school, but she is afraid of opening her mouth. She meets a playmate named Kylar, who tries to convince her that she doesn't need to be afraid or ashamed. Will she find the courage to perform?
Smiling Back at You by K.A and A.K Ashton is a children's book that would be appropriate for ages 3 to 8. (As a side note, Onlinebookclub.org has the authors' names as K.K Ashton and A.K Ashton, but the book cover lists them as K.A and A.K.) The themes are being yourself and not allowing others to set your limits. The vocabulary is simple with many repeated words. Not only does this help young children easily read the story but it also brings home the point that the author is making.
My favorite part of the story was, in fact, the message. Kids need to learn from an early age not to let others dictate what they can and cannot do. In addition, it will allow them to see that differences are actually common and should be celebrated, as several characters have disabilities.
The characters in the story are all animals, which children will enjoy. Most, including Sugar and Kylar, are dogs; however, one character is a giraffe. It seemed a bit odd to have every other character a dog, but it wasn't overly problematic.
The illustrations are colorful and pleasing to the eye. They went well with the story and were interspersed with the words fairly evenly. My one issue was that Sugar's "affliction" isn't pictured as well as I would like. It's barely noticeable and not realistic to how it would appear in real life. I believe this does a disservice to children that find themselves in Sugar's shoes.
Another problem with the story was the editing. It was atrocious; there were more than ten errors, which is unheard of in a short book like this. Many sentences appeared without periods. A quotation mark was missing. Commas are put in the wrong place, making sentences awkward. For example, Sugar's mom says, "Speak it into, being." This is going to confuse children. Another round of editing - even thorough proofreading - would be extremely helpful.
Overall, the story has a great message, and the drawings are eye-catching. The book is marred by the poor editing, though. Thus, I rate Smiling Back at You 2 out of 4 stars. Children's books should be more carefully edited than adult novels because they don't know better. I would, also, recommend a revision of the drawings. This would work for families as a read-aloud story, especially if the kids don't know how to read yet. That way they won't be learning bad habits. I do hope the authors make some revisions in order to allow the great message to shine.
Smiling Back At You
View: on Bookshelves