Monday, August 25, 2014

Book Review: Smile by Raina Telgemeier

Smile Discussion
Title: Smile
Author: Raina Telgemeier
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published February 1st 2010 by GRAPHIX
Note to readers.
Let me just start off by saying, I would not call myself a graphic novel reader. However, lately I have been working on expanding my reading-range; one way I’ve done this is reading graphic novels.  I’ve learned that “graphic novels” aren’t a genre, but a medium.  There are many genres in our library’s graphic novel section.  I would like to encourage anyone who hasn’t read graphic novel to do so. But, don’t just pick up the first book you see, try and find something you will like.  If you like historical romance, find a graphic novel that is a historical romance. If horror is your thing find a horror one.  I’m sure there are many readers that would love graphic novel if they gave them a chance. 
Recommendation.  I recommend this book for girls in the 5th through 9th grade especially those who have or are about to have braces. 

Just to make it clear, if I use the name Raina I am referring to the preteen/teenage Raina from the book and if I use the name Telgemeier, I am referring to her as the author.

Also I looked it up online and Raina’s last name is said “Tell-gah” (like rhymes with Helga) and “meyer” like Oscar Meyer the hotdog company.

Smile starts off with a peppy, easy-to-love, twelve year old Raina.  Raina has ordinary twelve year girl problems like bossy friends, being unsure about boys, and an annoying little sister.  On the way home from a Girl Scout’s meeting Raina trips and busts out her two front teeth.  Now Raina has to deal with orthodontist appointments as well as being picked on at school due to her less than perfect teeth.  As Raina progresses out of middle school and into high school,  the reader sees her mature into a confident teen.

I absolutely enjoyed this book, just like I did with Drama.  Raina Telgemeier’s story and artwork have a way of pulling you into the story and into her life.  I find her books very relatable; they make me remember being an awkward middle school student with braces and little sisters.  When I saw the images of young Raina getting her braces tighten I could feel the pressure on my teeth.  Telgemeier certainly has the gift of story-telling and drawing.  I am eager to read anything she writes in the future.

·        It may just be because I’m not very familiar with graphic novels, but I think the usage of dialogue bubbles is fantastic.   I never had a problem understanding the tone of the conversation or who was speaking. (This is something I worry about when reading a graphic novel.)  For example, Telgemeier used dotted lines for whispering. 

·        I love Raina—the character and the author, but I’m talking about the character here.  She’s fantastic! She is so relatable.  She admits that she makes mistakes, like with the tiny-tot 6th grade, and she definitely learns for her mistakes.
·        My favorite part of the book is when she stands up to her middle school friends.  I admire and envy her confidence.  I’m so glad that she finds a group of friends who encourage her to be herself and don’t try to change her.  I wish I had had that type of confidence at her age.

·        I know this may sound mean or weird (sorry, Telgemeier), but I’m glad she didn’t date her crush.  The reason is it’s important for twelve year old girls to know that it’s okay not to have a boyfriend, and that most of your crushes will not end up being your boyfriend.

·        I loved Raina’s relationship with her little sister.  I feel you, girl! As the oldest of four girls, so I 100% understood all of Raina’s older sister problems.

·         Even though this book is about Raina’s life while she has braces, the braces aren’t the main focus of the book.  This book has several take home messages for middle grade readers, and all of them are important.
o   Be yourself, and you will be happier.
o   Boys aren’t as important as it seems.
o   Don’t let others begin you down. 
o   This too will pass.  (Or the idea that everything bad is temporary, like Raina’s braces)

·        This book is literally painful to read!  As in every time Raina got her braces tightened I remembered the pressure of my braces being tightened.  I hadn’t thought about that in years.  So, in a way this counts as a dislike, but in a way it’s a like because Telgemeier did such an amazing job with this book.

·        The book was too short.  Even though the story was over I wanted to keep reading.

 oh! And guess what comes out tomorrow... a sequel!!!

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