Willow's Smile

illus. by Tania Howells. 32p. Kids Can. Apr. 2016. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781771385497.
PreS-Gr 2—Shy Willow worries she won't be able to smile for the camera on Picture Day at school. Despite practicing her grin at home and wearing ribbons in her hair, she nervously hides behind her hands when she enters the big gym photo shoot. Perceptive and empathetic, Willow notices some of her classmates are also feeling apprehensive, and she offers support in her quiet way. Howells's delicate pen and ink illustrations paint a portrait of a diverse classroom. The students' emotions and individualities shine through, from Kristabelle's confident posture to Julian's awkward discomfort in his new shirt and tie. Willow decides that "her way of looking picture perfect [doesn't] have to include a smile." When it is Willow's turn in front of the camera, her friends wave and cheer and she "[can't] help it. She smile[s]!"
VERDICT Like Willow's Whispers (2010) and Willow Finds a Way (2013, both Kids Can), this slice-of-life picture book is an affirming celebration of being true to your authentic self.

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