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Augustus and His Smile
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About the Author

Catherine Rayner was born in Harrogate and now lives in Edinburgh. She has a BA (Hons) in Visual Communication and Illustration from Leeds College of Art and Edinburgh College of Art. Much of her inspiration - and occasionally modelling! - for her illustration comes from her pets: her horse Shannon, guinea pig Marvin, dog Ellie and two goldfish, Bruce and Sheila.

Reviews

Scottish author and artist Rayner combines a poetic sensibility with textured backgrounds and sweeping brushstrokes in this understated, visually dramatic story of one tiger's quest. Engulfed in sadness, Augustus embarks on a search for his missing smile. Muted colors and full-bleed spreads contain both spongy washes and bold shapes in earth tones that lend the tale a solemn air. The hero begins his search under low-hanging branches; leaves in solid shades of gold and dusty green dangle over the big cat, rendered in a fury of black ink and brushstrokes with pastel smudges of amber and rust. "He climbed to the tops of the tallest trees./ He found birds that chirped and called,/ but he couldn't find his smile." Next, he climbs mountains and searches the ocean depths, all to no avail. Rayner's strategic use of stark changes in scale and color emphasizes the lengths to which Augustus will go. His small silhouetted form appears atop a jutting black triangular mountain ridge outlined against a stormy purple sky; next, he appears to grow larger as he swims in an aquamarine sea with a school of multi-colored fish; he looks larger still, while prowling against the full-bleed burnt-orange backdrop of the desert, his shadow looming across the spread. Although Augustus's ultimate realization that "his smile would be there whenever he was happy" provides a pat conclusion, the masterful art will engage readers on a deeply sensual level. Ages 4-7. (May) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

PreS-Gr 2-Augustus the tiger has lost his smile. Not knowing where to find it, he begins a quest that takes him all over the world. He explores jungles, deserts, and oceans while searching for it, and finally finds it by looking in a pool of water. He comes to the realization that all of the things he has experienced will bring back his missing smile any time he thinks of them. Rayner has created a simple, poetic story that will have children speculating about what makes them feel good. The underlying theme of the enjoyment of the natural world will also help them articulate what parts they like best. The art matches the simplicity of the large-print text. Each spread has shapes or creatures that symbolize the area that the protagonist is currently visiting (large overlapping leaves for the jungle, a school of fish for the ocean, etc.). The illustrations work well with the spare narrative, giving viewers an idea of the expanse of the environments without becoming cluttered. The settings are soothing and majestic in contrast to the tiger's movement and energy. This book will suit storytimes, where children will smile along with Augustus.-Susan E. Murray, Glendale Public Library, AZ Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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