Smile by JoEllen McCarthy

Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.

Be kind. Always.

– -Plato

Some stories are meant to be told.  Some stories are meant to be written.  All stories are meant to be shared.  After all,  stories are what connect us.  As humans, we are all linked in so many ways. As readers, the  #heartprintbooks we share often open doors for us to talk about how we are linked. Like others in Nerdy Book Club, I find these books so often in tweets tagged #IMWAYR and #titletalk and #bookaday because when you just encounter a beautiful story, you have to share it.

This story is one that I heard, not read. But it is beautiful and needs to be shared.

The stories in our lives and the stories of our students’ lives help define us.

My colleague Mary Sussman I had been talking about Wonder and the impact it has on so many readers’ lives when she decided to share a little of her own Wonder, her brother Eddie Mitchell.

Like August, Eddie had a similar condition, called neurofibromatosis.  Like August, this caused the growth of tumors on his body. Many of his were on his face.  No amount of surgery could keep them at bay.  Unlike August, Eddie was mentally retarded.  Eddie could speak, and play, and laugh and brightened the lives of all those he encountered. He went to school and camp and bowling and movies and loved to eat out.

Eddie had a smile for everyone, even all those people who turned away instead of simply smiling back.  Eddie was always smiling. He had a smile for everyone.  People who took the time to look past his initial appearance got the pleasure of seeing his smile.  A smile costs nothing to give.

Eddie was and is the most wonderful thing that ever happened to Mary. Sadly, Eddie passed away last year at age 40. He is missed deeply.  He was and is the most wonderful thing that ever happened to Mary.

Eddie’s smile is gone but not for those who remember his story.

Take the time to notice and listen to the stories around you.

And share those stories.

When Mary shared Eddie’s story, I encouraged her to reach out to the author RJ. Palacio.  Not only did RJ respond, but she asked to include parts of Mary’s letter in the newest release of Wonder.  You can find it on page 343 in the new Exclusive Collector’s Edition of Wonder.


I recently finished Golden Boy by Tara Sullivan – a Nerdy recommendation from @stephshouldis. In it I found this advice:

“Positive changes in the attitude of the world only happen one interaction at a time, one person at a time.  Be that one person.”

Be that one person.

Choose kind and be that one person for the Wonders we meet in our world~ the people who love and just want to be loved in return.

Eddie and Mary

Eddie and Mary

“The only thing more powerful than one person smiling

is two people smiling at each other.”

– Chris Assaad

JoEllen McCarthy is a lifelong learner who spends her days teaching and learning in K- 8 classrooms as a regional staff developer.   She is obsessed with picture books, addicted to Twitter, and energized by the amazing community of learners she has the pleasure of working with daily and thankful for the inspiring readers, writers and thinkers she has met in the Twitterverse.