Friday Reads: SMILE by Raina Telgemeier

We bought a house! Posts will be pretty sporadic while we clean and pack and move, but this summer will be full of goodness. I’ll be participating in #PitchToPublication as one of the freelance editors, and I’ll be hosting #70pit the first week of July. So get those manuscripts ready for some full requests! For now, here’s a quick review of Smile, a middle-grade graphic novel memoir by Raina Telgemeier.

smile

Everyone in my family adored this graphic memoir.

I was reading it in my hammock outside and kept laughing. Soon my husband came over (he’s the one with orthodontic experience) and began reading with me, laughing and reading his favorite quotes aloud. Then our son came and joined us, reading along.

The toddler wasn’t particularly interested, though. I’m thankful, because the hammock was already dragging on the ground at that point.

As for the actual content, Raina (the main character) goes through middle and high school, relaying her dental and social dramas. Telgemeier (the author/illustrator/adult) managed to fit a lot into a single volume graphic novel. Secondary characters were drawn in the 2D cartoony style but weren’t flat caricatures of people.

smile-inside

Click to view sample pages on Amazon.

Telgemeier can pack so much emotion into one facial expression—she’s insanely talented as an illustrator! But her storytelling is also finely crafted. We’ve got subplots, conflicts, friends and foes, self reflection. Life lessons aren’t a prerequisite for me in juvenile literature. Smile does have them, but Telgemeier never lectures her audience. Teen Raina is conversational, assuring and inspiring.

Recommended for 5th and 6th graders, and for anyone who’s survived middle school and/or orthodontia.

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