The Smile (Little Gems) ISBN: 9781781125007
Published by Barrington Stoke Ltd, 2015
Everything seems to be going against Josh. His new brother Charlie, who is only seventeen days old, cries much of the night, and his parents are so absorbed in the baby that his own problems seem to go unnoticed. The family has moved house because of needing more room for Charlie, and Josh has had to leave the street and the room that have always been his. Furthermore, the baby was born the day before his birthday party, and that had been cancelled. His new room has terrible wallpaper, and while his parents plan to change it, so far there has been no time, and Josh hasn't even been able to unpack his things properly. The world looks sad from Josh's point of view, and it doesn't help when he sees his parents together in the night having a row because the baby doesn't stop crying. He feels alone, as if the three of them are a unit now - a unit in which he has no place. When Josh joins his mum while she is feeding the baby, they are able to talk quietly, and while mum doesn't understand all that is going on in Josh's mind, she is loving. When she asks Josh to hold the baby while she goes off to have a shower, he is unwilling, but does as she asks. And it is while Josh and Charlie are together, looking at each other, that Josh smooths a frown from Charlie's face and then sees a very quick smile appear as the baby falls asleep. He is instantly in love, and he knows that he will never let anyone hurt his brother. In fact, he gets quite 'soppy' in his reaction, but a loud fart from his brother brings him back to earth, and he knows they will always be special to each other. This utterly charming and realistic short novel about an older boy having to get used to the new brother in his life is beautifully written, as is to be expected from the prize-winning author, and the soft-pastel pictures add greatly to the whole. A truly sensitive story about how it feels to find oneself in a family of four rather than one of three.