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The Lost Smile

By Nadia King
Illustrated by Nelly Aghekyan
Reviewed by Margarite Igras

Nadia King’s  charming picture book  captured my attention from the first page. I was eager to learn where this story would go, what lesson will be learned about a child who wakes up feeling blue, and how she finally finds her smile again.

Zaytoon wakes up feeling sad. She wants to find her smile, so she explores her home, her family, and the world around her home for an answer. She has an embracing extended family to go to, as well as a cultural background that she can draw from, and a connection with the animals in her backyard, the vegetable garden and the trees tended by her father.

The text is simple but beautiful and together with  illustrations by Armenian artist Nelly Aghekyan, we see a story captured from a child’s perspective, with a close-knit family in a different cultural home, and yet, this family could be in our neighbourhood.

The lesson was a powerful one – that it is okay to feel sad; that this is often only temporary and will pass. Zaytoon is comfortable asking her family members to help her find her smile. The family plays a gentle and reassuring role from Ammi trying to distract her by asking her to help with some cooking, to the cocooning hug and song from her Dadi.

The author believes in stories that make the world a better place. When Zaytoon finally finds her smile reflected from the window, her search was over, and sun was smiling down. One day, Nadia claims she wants to ride and elephant- this wish is hidden in every page of the book waiting to be found.

Dixi Books 2021

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