Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Smile by Raina Telgemeier

Book Jacket

Raina just wants to be a normal sixth grader.  But one night after Girl Scouts she trips and falls, severely injuring her two front teeth.  What follows is a long and frustrating journey with on-again, off-again braces, surgery, embarrassing headgear, and even a retainer with fake teeth attached(!).  And on top of all that, there's still more to deal with: a major earthquake, boy confusion, and friends who turn out to be not so friendly.  Raina's story takes us from middle school to high school, where she discovers her artistic voice, finds out what true friendship really means, and where she can finally...smile.


Ah, adolescence.  I have no desire to ever think of you in any way other than hilarious graphic novels.  Suddenly the awkward physical appearances and awkward social situations are less horrific and more hysterical!  I so admire Telgemeier for recounting her autobiography in such an entertaining format.

I know this was not supposed to be educational, necessarily, but I was really impressed with the level of dental care available!  I had to go through braces, but Raina takes teeth arrangement to a whole new level.  She knocks out her two front teeth, then gets braces to slowly move the rest of her top teeth toward the center.  She has to correct a crossbite and an overbite.  And after so much rearrangement, she has to have gum surgery to repair the damage.  GAG.  I can't even imagine going through so much pain for over four years!  Raina is a superhero.

I also like the subtle way Telgemeier portrayed friendship.  The friends that Raina grew up with were catty, and more willing to put someone down than build them up.  Luckily, Raina become confident enough to call them out on their insulting behavior, and soon makes friends with far more awesome people. 

Five out of five orthodontists.

Release Date: February 2010
Reading Level: Grade 4+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection: GRAPHIC TEL

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