Book review: The Girl with the Lost Smile by Miranda Hart

First of all, permit me a quick foray into the raging debate about celebrity children’s authors and their books. As an aspiring author myself, I know that I am going to have to fight to get my book read by the right people (assuming I EVER manage to finish it, of course!), and a long and difficult road to publication. If I’m lucky. So, yes, it does seem unfair that in the meantime, people who are already household names can waltz into publishers with no more than a mediocre idea and receive a large amount of support and money to turn it into a book BUT:

  • That doesn’t mean that they don’t work hard (if not at the book, at the very least at whatever is was that got them to their position of privilege). I’m not talking about the people who don’t actually write their books, obviously. That’s just WRONG and just a little dishonest
  • Sometimes they are actually pretty good
  • Anything that gets children reading is a good thing in my books (no pun intended!)

I don’t have an issue with celebrity-written children’s books. That doesn’t mean that I don’t find it heart breaking that truly fantastic work loses out on window displays, marketing and recognition to the more profit-friendly celebrity work but it’s nobody’s fault that bookselling is a business. And, to be fair, the not so good ones fade away just as quickly as any other below par book.

Right, now that that’s over. Let’s turn to The Girl with the Lost Smile! Chloe has been having a pretty hard time of it at home lately; her parents always seem to be arguing and they have little to no time for her. To help her cope, she retreats into an imaginary MAGIC LAND where she can skate with penguins and pick barbequed sausages straight from a bush, but soon even this doesn’t make Chloe happy anymore. As things start to fall apart even more at school and at home, Chloe must fight to save the real MAGIC LAND and find her smile again.

I love Miranda Hart. She is lovely and hilarious. I went to a launch event for this book at Bath Children’s Literature Festival this year and she was her usual, galloping self. I couldn’t wait to get home and read the book.

It was…fine.

I won’t lie, I was disappointed. I was hoping for something unique and funny. What I actually got was a predictable but slightly confusing story line with fairly one dimensional characters and lacking in Miranda-ly hilarity; it feels unfinished, like this is a pre-edited version that could do with some finessing (it is not easy to read aloud!).

It’s not all bad though, the message is clear and it’s a good one: “It’s okay to be sad. Tell someone if you’re sad”

The book touches on young children dealing with depression, as well as divorce and unhappy homes. It’s also a fairly classic rite of passage tale and the finishes with Chloe essentially outgrowing the need for her imaginary MAGIC LAND.

I’m sure kids (I think it’s fairly gender neutral) between 8 and 12 years old will enjoy  more than I did, but I don’t see it becoming a cherished favourite.

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