Archive for March 22, 2019

Smile: How Young Charlie Chaplin Taught the World to Laugh (and Cry)

Written by Gary Golio
Illustrated by Ed Young

“Smile though your heart is aching … just smile” – “Smile” by Charles Chaplin

Charlie Chaplin had an unbelievably hard childhood in London. This is a fascinating look at the Chaplin people may not know. His father, an actor and singer, left the family when Charlie was a baby. His mother, also a singer, made a meager living with her singing, but her voice left her when Charlie was only five. That was the exact age Charlie was when he discovered he could make people laugh and cry with his antics. The family wound up in the poor house, with his mother being ill. His older brother was off hanging around with and working with boys his own age, leaving Charlie all alone. But Charlie continued to entertain. He reached the heart of a promoter, who sent him on a tour of America. Eventually, he entered silent films, doing nearly every job related to that industry.

The collage and ink illustrations create silhouettes more than appropriate for a star who, though he was very famous, broke into movies without a voice.

Readers will not only learn about one of the most famous stars of all time, but they will find out how a person can rise from the most squalid of circumstances to the highest heights. Since Chaplin often made people both laugh and cry at the same time, readers can also explore the relationships of many emotions.

  • SmileTitle: Smile: How Young Charlie Chaplin Taught the World to Laugh (and Cry)
  • Author: Gary Golio
  • Illustrator: Ed Young
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press, March 26, 2019
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 48 pages
  • Grade Level: 3 to 7
  • Genre: Biography, Entertainment
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-9761-7

A Green Place to Be: The Creation of Central Park

Written and Illustrated by Ashley Benham Yazdani

In 1858, as New York City grew, so also did the distance citizens had to go to find open spaces. Central Manhattan had few trees and a lot of muddy, rocky places. Calvert Vaux convinced the city fathers to set aside an area for all New Yorkers to enjoy. He partnered with Frederick Law Olmsted to design the area that became Central Park. This fascinating story of the development of that area is entertaining an eye opener for the reader. To show the enormity of the project to develop the park, she talks about many of the people who had a role. Even the original plan included time for visitors to color in grass and trees.

The author uses her art background to highlight some of the more picturesque aspects of the park, including the thirty-four distinctive arches and bridges within the park. She adds to the reader’s interest by including things to look for, such as the squirrels that needed to be introduced to the park.

This would be a great addition to a classroom unit on conservation, history, or the importance of green spaces. It’s fun also as independent reading, especially given the fame of the area everyone knows as Central Par.

  • Green Place to BeTitle: A Green Place to Be: The Creation of Central Park
  • Author/Illustrator: Ashley Benham Yazdani
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2019
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska                                                                                                                                     
  • Format: Hardcover, 40 pages
  • Grade Level: 2 to 5
  • Genre: History, Gardening
  • ISBN: 978-1-7636-9695-5
  • Extras: Additional background, Author’s Note, Bibliography