Friday, August 27, 2010

Review: Smile

Raina Telgemeier
2010; Scholastic; ISBN 978-0-545-13205-3 (hardcover)

Summary: Raina is running to her front porch when the sixth-grader falls and knocks out her two front teeth. This accident starts several years of dental drama for Raina, including braces two separate times, headgear, a retainer with two fake teeth, and more. It's a lot of pain and discomfort, made worse by the friends who tease her all the time. Raina struggles to deal with being true to herself without losing her friends. By the time she reaches high school, something's got to give. When Raina finally has normal teeth again, she decides to make a fresh start.

A touching comic book memoir, Smile goes one better of the traditional story about getting braces. With gentle humor and a fine sense of middle school society, Telgemeier tells her story. The artwork is bright and cheerful, with a cartoon-like style that still feels very real. Best of all is how we see the young Raina slowly realize that her friends are not really her friends, and how she manages to assert herself. A must-read for any middle schooler, Smile is bound to be snapped up by fans of Telgemeier's earlier work: the graphic novel adaptations of The Baby-sitters Club.

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