Friday, February 12, 2010

Smile by Raina Telgemeier

Smile by Raina Telgemeier. Grades 4-8. Scholastic, February 2010. Review copy purchased.

How much did I love Raina Telgemeier's comic adaptions of the Baby-Sitters Club books? Um, A LOT.

How excited was I when I heard that she had written a graphic novel memoir*? Um, A LOT. So much so, in fact, that I pre-ordered it. Which I hardly ever do.

It came in the mail. I did a happy dance. And then I sat down and read it in one sitting, cringing in the appropriate places, laughing out loud in the appropriate places, and absolutely reminiscing (I so remember going to see The Little Mermaid with my friends in the theater and being completely enchanted).

Raina was in the sixth grade when she tripped and fell on her face, damaging her front teeth, gums, and jaw in such a way that over four years of painful dental work was required to make it right. So, yeah, the book's about Raina's dental drama, but it's also about all the normal drama that middle school girls go through - trying to fit in while straddling that line between childhood and young adulthood. In addition to her dental saga, Raina's dealing with friends (and frenemies), crushes on boys, fitting in at school, grades, dances... all that typical middle school stuff. And the fact that she makes it through will be an inspiration to all dealing with that particular torture that middle school can be.

This book will certainly have a special place in the hearts of all those who have regular appointments with an orthodontist, but what is great is that the book's about so much more than that. It's a coming-of-age story that will resonate with most middle school girls, braces or not.

The story's told in a frank, fresh style that kids will appreciate. If I had to pick one word to describe this book, it would be "genuine". It'll please avid comic readers and win new fans to the genre.

Um, okay. I confess that this isn't a review so much as unabashed gushing. I'd apologize, but I'm in that happy place where I just finished a book I really loved. :)

Take a peek inside with this book trailer:

And read more actual reviews at The Daily Cross Hatch, ComicMix, and Good Comics for Kids.

*Graphic memoir? Comic memoir? Illustrated memoir? Did we ever decide what we're calling this genre?