New York — Very few people know the value of a smile, smirk or wink better than Cindy Crawford.
But her knowledge doesn't come only from her career as a model, where she'd use a lustful look or a giddy grin to help sell vastly different products. She learned about facial expressions as an intense form of communication when her son Presley, now 2 1/2, was an infant.
"Presley was in my lap. I was sticking out my tongue and he was mimicking it," she says. "We connected."
Not long after, the idea for "About Face" (HarperEntertainment) was born. Crawford worked with children's author Ellen Schecter and photographer Jade Albert to create the book that encourages reading, playing and face-making.
If a parent and baby understand each other's body language, they have a jump-start on their relationship, Crawford says.
"Now he (Presley) will see my face when he throws Play-Doh on the floor," she says. "He'll say it's my angry face."
But, she adds, the connection made during the one-on-one facial "conversations" is very personal. "Some faces like awe and joy are pretty universal, but while I can tell Presley's shy face from his scared, I don't know if I'd confuse them on another child."
Making these sometimes kooky faces also can be liberating for the adult, according to Crawford, who was interviewed by phone.
"I'm a lot less inhibited. I'm not afraid of making a fool of myself anymore," she says with a laugh.
And to get the best photographs for "About Face," Crawford had to strike some poses that will come as a shock for those expecting Cindy the Glamour Girl. She makes monkey faces and kisses toes to elicit the right responses from the book's other "models," and since Presley doesn't like her with makeup on, she wore very little for the shoot.
While Presley is one of the featured faces, Crawford's second child with husband Rande Gerber, Kaia, is not. But the new baby, who was born in September, did figure into another new venture for Crawford.
She teamed with eStyle to help create a "fashion-forward" maternity line, often serving as the fitting model to make sure the clothes really worked for a pregnant woman.
"I wanted a couple of outfits that you can build a wardrobe around. ... Especially when you're pregnant, you don't want to be wearing things that you would never wear in real life."
Crawford explains her involvement as a collaborator who encouraged flared legs and fitted shoulders, although she did not sit down and design each garment.
This evolution of supermodel to supermom just sort of happened, Crawford says. "Whatever I'm doing in life seems to manifest itself in my career."