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


Some books are written to make you laugh. Some books are written to make you scared. Some books are written to make you remember. Some books are written to invite you to see something greater than our ordinary lives and taken to a level of excellence that gives life and living a magnified and unique glory. This book is the kind that elevates us and asks us to look a little deeper and think a whole lot larger.

This is the life story of Charlie Chaplin. Most children today have never seen his Little Tramp episodes. They have no idea who this man in the funny suit and top hat is... heck, they don't know what a top hat is all about unless it's striped and being worn by an odd cat.

To get to the top hat days you have to go back and see the reality of this boy's life. He came from a family where Dad left a while back. Anyone know that boy? He came from a family that had to go into the poorhouse when Mom's voice failed and the sewing she did wasn't enough to pay the rent. Anybody know that boy?

Stay with Charlie for a few more years and find out how a teacher made a difference in his life. Stay with Charlie and watch how he just kept dancing and finding chances to entertain people. Then watch as Charlie began to understand people better than they even understood themselves. Watch how Charlie was willing to keep looking, to keep changing, to keep growing, to keep learning more and more and getting better and better and how he was willing to take a risk over and over again. Anybody know that boy?

In the backmatter there is a sentence that pretty much explains why Charlie Chaplin still merits a book. It sheds the light on why the ultra-talents of Gary Golio and Ed Young would come together to create this huge homage and inspirational reminder.

"Without Charlie Chaplin, there probably wouldn't be movies the way we know them today."

"In Charlie's Little Tramp character, what seemed like weakness often turned out to be strength. What was a problem became a solution."

"Charlie Chaplin had the courage to be funny. And that's why we love him."

Charlie Chaplin's life is celebrated through the elegance of the eye and art of Ed Young. Gorgeous story that reminds us what excellence looks like.

48 pages         978-0763697617        Ages 8-12

Illustrated by Ed Young

Recommended by: Barb Langridge,


An award-winning author and a Caldecott Medalist take a creative look at the early life of comedic genius Charlie Chaplin.

Once there was a little slip of a boy who roamed the streets of London, hungry for life (and maybe a bit of bread). His dad long gone and his actress mother ailing, five-year-old Charlie found himself onstage one day taking his mum’s place, singing and drawing laughs amid a shower of coins. There were times in the poorhouse and times spent sitting in the window at home with Mum, making up funny stories about passersby. And when Charlie described a wobbly old man he saw in baggy clothes, with turned-out feet and a crooked cane, his mother found it sad, but Charlie knew that funny and sad go hand in hand. With a lyrical text and exquisite collage imagery, Gary Golio and Ed Young interpret Charlie Chaplin’s path from his childhood through his beginnings in silent film and the creation of his iconic Little Tramp. Keen-eyed readers will notice a silhouette of the Little Tramp throughout the book that becomes animated with a flip of the pages. An afterword fills in facts about the beloved performer who became one of the most famous entertainers of all time.--from the publisher

48 pages         978-0763697617        Ages 8-12

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