Smelling Sunshine, written and illustrated by Constance Anderson, and published by Star Bright Books (2013), is a warm fuzzy of a book for young children, ages 3 to 5. It’s about doing laundry.

Like many household chores, we often consider doing the laundry boring. Maybe it’s because we put our muscles to work and tell our brains and our hearts to go to sleep. Smelling Sunshine invites readers to experience doing laundry with our eyes, our ears, our noses and our hearts.

Anderson creates a world where there’s beauty in the varied colors and textures of the clothes, as well as delight in the sound of birds, insects and dogs. We experience warmth and pleasure as mother and child share the tasks of hanging out the clothes and taking them down. We dance with them about the hanging clothes and play games with the wind. But Anderson does not leave us with the pleasures of doing the job, she wisely and artfully takes us beyond the moments of the bright day, showing us how the completed task can comfort us in the dark night. The text is in free verse and less than 200 words, but it gets the job done beautifully.

The mixed-media illustrations are colorful and child-friendly. Not just the people and the clothes have color; the backgrounds are also painted and textured. The illustrations depict moms and children from various cultures, expanding a child’s understanding of a world rich in the ways that people live. At times the pictures seem alive. I find it amazing when an illustrator can make two-dimensional art on a page seem to move. Anderson has done just that. We experience water dripping from wet cloth, birds flapping around wash lines, and the wind pulling at clothes on the line and in our hands.

Though many people do not hang their laundry out to dry, children and adults will still relate to Smelling Sunshine. We all do chores. Smelling Sunshine encourages us to look for and bask in the joy that can be found in doing our everyday tasks.

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.)  Her latest work for children is I Get a Clue, a mystery novel for girls 10-13. For several years she was a freelance reviewer of children’s and teen’s literature for the Focus on the Family website.

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