All the Ways to be Smart

From the award-winning creators of Under the Love Umbrella comes this joyful ode to all the unique and wonderful qualities that make children who they are.

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About the book

Publisher notes

  • Publication date: 15/10/2018
    ISBN: 9781925713435
    Format (h x w): 280mm x 215mm HB
    Extent: 32pp
    RRP: AUD $24.99|NZD $30.00
    Rights held: World
    Rights sold: France (Éditions Sarbacane), Italy (Il Castello)

  • Publication date: 14/02/2019
    ISBN: 9781911617556
    Format (h x w): 280mm x 215mm HB
    Extent: 32pp
    RRP: £11.99
    Rights held: World
    Rights sold: France (Éditions Sarbacane), Italy (Il Castello)

  • Publication date: 09/03/2019
    ISBN: 9781947534964
    Format (h x w): 280mm x 215mm HB
    Extent: 32pp
    RRP: US$16.99
    Rights held: World
    Rights sold: France (Éditions Sarbacane), Italy (Il Castello)


Smart is not just ticks and crosses,
smart is building boats from boxes.
Painting patterns, wheeling wagons,
being mermaids, riding dragons …

From the award-winning creators of The Underwater Fancy-Dress Parade and Under the Love Umbrella comes this joyful ode to all the unique and wonderful qualities that make children who they are.

What age is this book for?

  1. Babies — perfect ‘welcome to the world’ gift to encourage parents through sleepless nights and establish a precious reading routine. It rhymes too, so can be sung as a lullaby or perky rhyme.
  2. Toddlers will be transfixed by the illustrations — be prepared for lots of spotting! Great vocabulary builder, but supervision recommended!
  3. 3-5-year-olds absorb it all, instantly!
  4. 6-8-10-year-olds have a more sophisticated appreciation of the art, and the transferability of the story — it’s not only about accepting themselves, but others too.
  5. Graduation gift from high school!

‘Every page of this book is joyous, imaginative and life-affirming.’ —Bronte Coates, Readings

All The Ways to be Smart is the most beautiful, brilliant new picture book. Full stop.’—Courtney Adamo, Babyccino


‘I wish my seven-year-old self had read these words of wisdom, but books are a reflection of society, and 30 years ago, most parents, like mine, believed that getting good grades at school was all that mattered; as a result, our self-esteem often rode on what we scored in tests and examinations. However, the very fact that this gorgeously buoyant and necessary picture book exists today is a heartening sign that there has already been a huge shift in parental and personal mindsets — and it’s about time, too … I just know that this is one of those special books that will find its way into many hands and hearts, and perhaps change a few lives along the way.’
—Eileen Sim, Picture This Book

‘Charming illustrations in pretty, appealing colours? Check. Great rhyming text that is super fun to read aloud? Check. A wonderful message conveyed in a beautiful non-judgey way? Check. The book is a joyful celebration of childhood and all the different, unique ways to be smart…This is honestly such a heartwarming, happy book and you can’t help but smile and nod along as you turn each page.’
—Courtney Adamo, Babycinno

‘Back with gusto is Davina Bell and Allison Colpoys, the third pairing of this powerhouse duo – producing what is in my mind a perfect picture book. Yep. I said it! With galloping rhyme and gorgeous illustrations, we leap through a landscape of creativity and kindness, cleverness and composure. ALL the ways to be smart. It’s a celebration of learning and play and learning through play.’
—Liam Daniels, @wordsandillustrations

‘Celebrate the myriad of ways smart exists in this affirming and whimsically detailed book. We honestly can’t recommend it enough.’
—Miranda Rosbach, @Bookbloom

‘Simple, flowing words coupled with fluorescent illustrations (created from ink, charcoal, and pencil, then digitally assembled) give young readers a book brimming with examples of how they are smart all day, every day. Smart at making—like gluing wings on Halloween bats, concocting slime, and “building boats from boxes.” Smart at understanding people—like offering sympathy, “saying hi and bye / to people when they feel all shy,” and “being sorry when you’re naughty.” Smart at “growing, throwing, / bubble blowing,” “crazy dances! Horsey prances! / Feeling scared but taking chances,” and even “sitting still and quiet for ages.” Realistic illustrations show children of varying racial presentations joining sentient animals and benign, hairy monsters to confidently explore their world, real and imagined. There is no narrative throughline as such, but double-page spreads are thematically unified. Children soar on dragons, lecture dinosaurs, play with pirates, show off in a circus, and explore space while always receiving the message that “every hour of every day, / we’re smart in our own special way. / And nobody will ever do… / the very same smart things as you.”’



‘Written in rhyming text that does not falter, it’s great fun to read aloud, and would merit many re-readings and further discussions between adults and children. Colpoys’ distinctive illustrations are perfectly matched to the text. They are playful and full of movement and vivacity, with a sophisticated palette of green, apricot, blue and black that imparts a charming retro aesthetic, while still feeling contemporary in tone and content. All the Ways to be Smart is a celebration of what childhood can be, and it will likely become a classic.’ (4.5/5 stars)
–Louise Pfanner, Books+Publishing

‘All the Ways to be Smart is a great book for nurturing a child’s confidence, and those who feel different from their friends will be reassured by the book’s varied descriptions of what makes someone smart. Colpoys’ distinctive illustrations fizz with her trademark charm and vivacity.’
–Bronte Coates, Readings Monthly

‘Allison Colpoys’ illustrations shimmer with vibrancy; her loose-line illustrations and selective colour palette exuding a nostalgic charm. Children will want to pore over each page, while the seamless read-out-loud rhyming pattern will ensure this is a favourite for years to come.’
–Penny Harrison, Kids’ Book Review

‘A 2018 favourite of mine is Davina Bell and Allison Colpoys’ picture book, All the Ways to Be Smart. Bell and Colpoys are the writer-illustrator duo that brought us Under the Love Umbrella and The Underwater Fancy Dress Parade. With its catchy rhyming structure and visual vibrancy, All the Ways to Be Smart promises to be just as irresistibly popular as their previous works. This book teaches children that intelligence is so much more than being book-smart. Intelligence can also mean being empathetic, artistic, athletic, and inquisitive. It places value in every kind of talent, from ‘building boats from boxes’ to ‘kindness when there’s crying’. All the Ways to Be Smart is the perfect feel-good bedtime story that I can’t wait to gift this Christmas.
–Sherry Landow, Membership & Development Officer, Writing NSW Magazine