One Smile
Author: Cindy McKinley; Illustrator: Mary Gregg Byrne
Pages: 32 pages
Publisher/Date: Illumination Arts/2002
ISBN: 0935699236
Age Levels: 4 and up

Book Review

What can one smile do? Quite a lot as we find out in this noteworthy tale. The story begins with Katieand her mother walking through the park. She thoughtfully bestows a bright smile on a forlorn, out-of-work young man sitting on a park bench. It inspires the young man to begin looking for a new job. While doing so, he sees a woman whose car has a flat tire. He changes the tire for her. She, in turn, leaves a large tip for a waitress. This continues on until, eventually, the good feelings inspired by Katie's smile comes back to her and her mother.

The text is well-written and flows smoothly. The themes of kindness and interconnectedness shine through on each page.

The illustrations are exceptional. The realistic paintings are done in vibrant colors. Each double-page spread captures perfectly the mood and atmosphere of the story and invites the reader into the scene.

Without lapsing into moralizing, One Smile shows readers that small acts of kindness, when sent out into the world, can have profound and lasting effects.

Reviewed by the teachers at Education Oasis
©2003 Education Oasis

About the Author

Cindy McKinley has always loved working with and helping children. An elementary school teacher, she has a Master's Degree in Reading from Eastern Michigan University. The inspiration for One Smile came from Cindy's desire to show children the powerful blessings that can flow from a simple act of kindness. "We often have no idea," she says, "how our generous actions affect those around us." Cindy lives in Milford, Michigan with her husband, Shawn, their children Jordon and Justin, and Mittens the family cat. You may visit the author's website.

About the Illustrator

Mary Gregg Bryne's love affair with art began when she was a little girl. While well-versed in a variety of crafts and fine arts, watercolor is her primary media. "I love the beauty of watercolor," she says. "It is alive. It creates with the artist." Mary lives in Bellingham, Washington, where she enjoys watching children play as her garden grows.


Katie's smile becomes the vehicle through which students are able to explore the concept of "paying it forward." You may visit the Pay It Forward Foundation for more information. There you will find educator resources, information about grants, and much more.