Monday, March 15, 2010

Smile, by Raina Telgemeier - wonderful graphic novel for ages 9 - 13

So many kids are drawn to graphic novels and comic books - they love how visually stimulating they are, they love the laughs and the drama. They love reading books with fewer words but all the ideas! So it warms my heart when I read a graphic novel or comic strip that has wonderful characters, a rich story, and all the details I'd hope for in a novel. Smile, by Raina Telgemeier, is a brilliant story that speaks to tweens on the brink of adolescence.
by Raina Telgemeier
ages 9 - 13
available on Amazon or your local public library
Raina just wants to be a normal sixth grader - to fit in, to figure out the right clothes to wear, to have fun with her friends. But one night after Girl Scouts she trips and falls flat on her face, severely injuring her two front teeth. What follows is a long and frustrating journey with braces, dental surgery, embarrassing headgear, and even a retainer with fake teeth attached.  Definitely not the recipe for fitting in!

On top of the dental drama, Raina goes through middle school and starts high school, dealing with friends who turn out to be not so friendly, boys and crushes, and a major earthquake. This coming-of-age true story is sure to resonate with tweens and teens who are trying to figure things out for themselves. Author/illustrator Raina Telgemeier does a wonderful job of capturing the emotions of a young tween/teenager - the joy, the angst, the pain, the drama. Yes, this is a real story, based on all the dental drama that Raina really went through.
When I brought home the ARC (advanced readers copy), my 5th grader took it to her room and read it straight through. That night, she asked me to read it aloud to her (a treat!), and we did - staying up way past her bedtime to finish it! We just got our "real" copy in the mail, with full color and a glittery front, and my tween escaped with it again!

Raina Telgemeier might be known to you as the illustrator of the Babysitter's Club comics. She grew up in the San Francisco area, but made her way to New York City when she was 22 to attend the School of Visual Arts as an Illustration and Cartooning student. She has a lovely style, full of action and emotions, and yet not too dense so the story shines through.

You might enjoy this book trailer:

Smile went on sale last month. It's going to be my go-to present for girls turning 11 and 12! The ARC came from the ACL librarian group. We purchased the final copy from Amazon. If you make a purchase on Amazon using these links, a small percentage will go to Great Kid Books.  Thank you for your support.


  1. I also adored this book. As somebody who is about the same age as the author, I was really pleased to see all of her attention to detail that really helped capture growing up in the late 80s/early 90s. It doesn't make or break the book for kids who are too young to understand the references, but it made the experience all the more enjoyable for me. My kids are a little too young for this book but I am going to recommend it to my acquaintances who have tweens and young teens.

  2. I'm so glad you adored it, too. Isn't it amazing that she was able to include all these details, and yet also make it completely realistic in today's setting as well? Hope your friends with tweens enjoy it!

  3. hi i love this book its cool and amazing