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SMILE by Raina Telgemeier

5 Ish Good!

Smile by Raina Telgemeier

I was first introduced to Raina Telgemeier's work when we paid a visit to the San Diego Comic Con back in 2007. It was our first trip to the comic con, and we only had a day to spend there so we wanted to make the most of it. Audra was very excited to pick up a copy of Raina's adaption of the Ann M. Martin's The Baby-Sitters Club graphic novel. Audra was a fan of Raina's work and was excited to finally meet her. Unfortunately we couldn't track her down and things were really crazy that Saturday that she didn't get a chance to meet her.

Flash forward to today and now we own all 4 volumes of The Baby-Sitters Club graphic novels as well as a couple of pages of original artwork from one of the books! (Yes, we are huge fans!) We both follow Raina on twitter and had been anxiously awaiting her new graphic novel called SMILE to be released.

SMILE is an autobiographical dental drama that takes place during Raina's childhood. The story is quite personal, and at times caught me off guard. I literally cringed while reading of the horrific accident that damaged her two front teeth, but this provides the nucleus for the story that unfolds. While painful to read at times, there are lighter moments too. Raina, like everyone, experienced the ups and downs of middle school as well as the joys and hardships of friendships and crushes. Raina does a really awesome job capturing the nuances of what it was like to grow up in her shoes. For me, it was like going through middle and high school all over again.


There are times when SMILE felt so deeply personal, that I almost felt guilty. It was like sneaking a peak at Raina's diary... but therein lies the charm of this book. While I have never had braces or dental horror stories of this magnitude, I can empathize and almost feel the pain that she went through. I cringed and laughed, uncomfortably at times because I can recall what it was like growing up and could relate entirely to the story that was unfolding as I read.

This really is a story of turning lemons into lemonade. Telgemeier could have simply lived her life without sharing these experiences with us, and that would've been that. Instead, she gives us a deep, personal look into what it was like living through multiple years of dental work and the pains and joys of each experience. Children picking up this book that are going through any of the same situations no matter how small or severe, will probably be relieved to know that they aren't alone.

SMILE had it's start as a webcomic before Scholastic scooped it up and put it on it's Graphix imprint. While the webcomic was done in black and white, the book is done up in dazzling full color. Raina's style is light and so fluid- a perfect match for the young characters she is drawing and the story that is being told. Most enjoyable was her hilarious view of how her dentists worked on her teeth as well as getting her first set of false front teeth. That said, I think many will enjoy reading this book even if you've never had braces or dental work done. The photo at the very end is worth the entire read. I know it will make you SMILE!

SMILE by Raina Telgemeier
224 pages, Full-color
Ages 9 - 13 (Adults will enjoy it to -Scott)
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-0545132053
Paperback ISBN-13: 978-0545132060

Full disclosure: By clicking on the links below and purchasing any of these books, you will be helping nemu*nemu!

Purchase SMILE by Raina Telgemeier at Amazon

  • Smile Cover
  • Smile Cast

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