Not a Smiley Guy  

Coming April 2024


What will it take to get Ernest to smile? Find out in Newbery Honor author Polly Horvath’s picture book debut.

From the day he’s born, Ernest has few complaints. His family is lovely; the world has a lot to offer. He’d like there to be more elephants around, but hey, you can’t have everything. Ernest is just as happy as the next guy.

The trouble is, everyone around him is obsessed with smiling. His parents smile when he learns to walk, when he learns to talk, when he learns to button up his snowsuit. But smiling just isn’t for Ernest, and they can’t let it go. When drastic, elephant-related measures are taken, and Ernest still doesn’t smile, the whole family learns that sometimes loving someone means meeting in the middle.

Equal parts deadpan and genuine, Not a Smiley Guy is an ideal conversation starter for kids just discovering that we each have our own ways of showing how we feel. Readers who struggle to be understood will resonate with Ernest’s good-natured exasperation.

Boris Kulikov’s textured, moody illustrations accompany National Book Award winner Polly Horvath’s sardonic tale of acceptance and intentional communication, as useful for grown-ups as it is for kids.