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Smile by Raina Telgemeier
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Smile (edition 2010)

by Raina Telgemeier

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9981088,575 (4.18)17
Member:tylerblount
Title:Smile
Authors:Raina Telgemeier
Info:GRAPHIX (2010), Paperback, 224 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:Graphic Novel, Braces, Teens

Work details

Smile by Raina Telgemeier

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    Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol (fyrefly98)
    fyrefly98: School-based coming of age stories, with very different contexts but similar message and art style.
  3. 20
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Raina’s teen trauma begins one dark night after the Girl Scout meeting. She trips, falls then stands up blood pouring out of her mouth with her two front teeth gone! It will be four-and-a-half years from sixth grade right into high school until she’s done with pediatric dentists, orthodontists, endodontists—who knew there were so many kinds of dentists—and meanwhile there’s school, friends, boys, annoying sisters, and, living in San Francisco, earthquakes to deal with. So who needs retainers with false teeth, headgear, and root canals to deal with at the same time?

Telgemeier’s ability to capture emotion and expression with her words and art is sharp and picture perfect in this coming of age memoir. Smile won the Eisner Award for Best Publication for Teens in 2011. ( )
  MaowangVater | Oct 18, 2014 |
Smile was a double-edged sword for me. On one hand, I liked that the subject matter is more serious than what you find in many graphic novels. I usually think of superheroes or brainy amoebas, but this book tackles the awkwardness of adolescence and navigating through the social complexities of middle school and high school. Based on a true event in the life of author/illustrator Raina Telgemeier, the feelings of the main character are very accurate, and most readers who have gone through middle school and/or had braces will be able to easily relate.

So, while I appreciate a graphic novel that tackles a serious topic, I also felt that it left me wanting more. The graphic novel format really only lets you see surface-level emotions and interactions, and I kept wanting to delve deeper into the characters. I am probably biased after recently reading the amazing Wonder by R.J. Palacio. Wonder also delves into the world of looking and feeling different in middle school, but the characters have much more depth, the story allows the reader to understand motivations, and the book leaves you pondering life and all of its complexities. Smile is more of an introductory look at complex situations. ( )
  stephanie.croaning | Sep 28, 2014 |
This semi-autobiographical graphic novel was cute in a childish way. I loved that it centered around teeth, orthodontia, etc. and a time in a child's life where they are already feeling insecure. I can see why this would be a popular book for tweens who are dealing with body changes, hormones, braces, bullying, and crushes. The illustrations are cute, and cartoonish. Great graphic novel for the tween audience.
( )
  recipe_addict | Sep 21, 2014 |
Great graphic novel about the author's trials with orthodontia, other dental work, friends and more. It captures the difficulty of growing up, fitting in, and standing out. ( )
  ChristianR | Sep 11, 2014 |
Raina Telgemeier’s years through middle and high school are told through this entertaining memoir. She does so in the form of a graphic novel, which really helps keep the attention of readers, keeping them interested and entertained all while learning a true story. Despite the unconventional style for biographies, Telgemeier makes very good use of plot, setting, and characters in her memoir.

The plot of Smile is a pretty simple one that follows one young girl's experience with braces. After losing her two front teeth in an accident, Raina has to get false teeth and braces, all while grinning and bearing through the pain and awkwardness of her situation throughout school. The events of this story are based on actual facts as this was something that Telgemeier had to go through in real life. She must remember her entire years of middle and high school just because of this, as one does not forget the physical torments of braces, or even the sociological torment that they can cause. The reader gets a look at the life of a school girl with braces and allows them to understand the trials and emotions Raina is going through.

Smile takes place in the city of San Francisco, focusing on three main areas: Raina’s home, her schools, and the orthodontist’s office. Each does a very good job of developing Raina’s character as she deals with her braces. Her schools are the only places where she does not feel comfortable and worries the most. It is true that the scenes at the orthodontist’s office can be painful, uncomfortable, and scary for Raina, but that setting is friendlier than at school. Dr. Dragoni, Raina’s orthodontist, is very nice and does everything he can to help Raina. No trip to the doctor is ever really fun, but it does help people out. Raina’s home is her refuge, where she can relax. It is only at school where Raina faces public humiliation, and must make difficult decisions about boys, classes, and even her own friends, all while fretting over her brace face. The setting is very crucial to the story and the development of Raina. The school alone serves as a crucible in which Raina is developed by different emotions and events.

Not a lot of detail is given to show just what years this story takes place in, but there are some big clues that come in the form of entertainment. Raina frequently plays Nintendo games and references several that were released around her childhood such as Super Mario Bros 2, and DuckTales. These are shown both visually and just in name. There is also a scene where the family goes to see the new release of the Walt Disney animated feature film, The Little Mermaid, which places Raina at the age of twelve in 1989.

The character of Raina is a very believable one that readers can easily relate to. Many people have had to deal with braces or at the very least trips to the dentist. Just about everyone should know what Raina is dealing with. Even without the braces, Raina faces many trials at school which help her grow as a character. Again, the school setting is one everyone can relate to. The other characters are also very believable, especially the ones found at school. Raina deals with two different boys she has feelings for. She also has friends that grow and develop along with her that are realistic. Her friends tease her constantly throughout the book, which is something many children do to each other, friendly or not. The readers even get to see all these same characters age throughout their school years, taking some time to focus a bit on puberty and what that can entail.

Telgemeier does not glorify herself one bit. In fact, it is actually quite the opposite. She frequently calls her cartoon version of her younger self nerdy and awkward, all of which are not helped out with her braces. This portrayal, however, is not too critical of Raina. At many points throughout the book, Raina must change in some way or make big decisions. Readers get to see just about all of her emotions as well as seeing the character in all sorts of situations.

The plot is set up fairly quickly and the pace of this novel works. It doesn’t go into so much detail that it distracts the reader from the focus. The pictures matched up with the topics that were being discussed throughout the entire story. This is an added incentive to keep students interested in the story itself without being totally distracted.

The major theme is self-exploration with typical coming-of-age subplots that revolve around growing up and trying to fit in. At first, Raina was mostly trying to fit in with her peers, and tried to change herself in order to do so. Even adult readers can relate to this as many did the same thing in middle school. However as time went on, Raina became more comfortable with who she was and stood up for what she thought was right, and that’s a good lesson kids nowadays need to keep in mind.
  rdg301library | Jul 2, 2014 |
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From sixth grade through tenth, Raina copes with a variety of dental problems that affect her appearance and how she feels about herself.
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From sixth grade through tenth, Raina copes with a variety of dental problems that affect her appearance and how she feels about herself.

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