When Shane Dunphy starts work at Little Scamps crèche, he has no idea what he has let himself in for. He had not worked in an early years setting for many years and on arriving for his first day he found that two members of staff, Susan and Tush, are at the end of their tether and on the verge of resigning. The children themselves are completely out of control. At the centre of this chaos Shane finds Tammy, a pretty, doll-like five-year-old who is a mystery to everyone: she does not talk, or even smile, yet shows signs of remarkable intelligence.
Through the course of the year, Shane attempts to bring order to this motley group and we learn the stories of some of the other children in the crèche: Milandra, an angry, violent four year old, the daughter of a Nigerian father and Irish mother; Rufus, a gypsy child who is direly neglected; Julie, a tiny, painfully shy little girl with Down's Syndrome. How is Shane ever to find a way to communicate with and ultimately befriend such diverse and challenging personalities? Then one afternoon, Gus, the class tear away, receives the gift of a blue crayon - a crayon he claims is magic. And Shane begins to wonder if this magic could be the answer to all his problems ...
Shane Dunphy's moving portrait of a year at Little Scamps is a testament to the redemptive power of love and nurturing, of finding oneself through the care of others, as well as finding the secret of a girl who couldn't smile.