Free Fridays: Smiles to Go


Smiles to Go is about Will Tuppence who is afraid. Afraid of death, afraid of heights, afraid of failure, afraid of the future, afraid of what is happening with a crush. Proton decay has occurred, which means nothing in the universe lasts. He worries.

Lo, his sister is seriously injured in a skateboarding accident. This pulls Will back into reality and into the present. Will learns to love his sister and appreciate the current life around him. Life is good, even when it is tough.

Smile to Go

Will Tuppence is an entering high school freshman, so this book is perhaps most appropriate for the teens in the children’s literature world.

This book taught me about living in the present and not worrying, a lesson I had learned before but is sometimes hard to remember. The present is a privilege. People around us are the most valuable objects presented to our senses: interacting with them is a joy as well as an honor. Then I also came to love The Horsehead Nebula and star parties and seahorse necklaces and atoms more through this book. Jerry Spinelli expresses a contagious wonderment with the world and with science.  Spinelli also shows a characteristic appreciation and understanding of people. And he shares a love for goodness. The book is also just fun to read.

The title comes from “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost. But instead of “miles to go before I sleep, miles to go before I sleep,” a student in Will’s class quotes it as “smiles to go before I weep, smiles to go before I weep.”

E. Schellhase


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