Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Smile

This charming tale recounts the time in Raina's life in San Francisco from sixth until 10th grade. In this space of time lots happens, but the thread that goes through much of it is surprisingly dentistry and orthodontics. After Raina knocks out her two front teeth, she has to go through a number of procedures, including extractions and root canals, and ends up wearing braces and a headgear at night. She takes these events pretty hard and they affect her social life when she thinks she is weird or nerdy because of her dental issues.

As time goes by she participates in the Girl Scouts, gets her ears pierced, has crushes on boys, and learns to navigate life in high school. Also, she and her friends share some growing pains and their relationships get strained by teasing, pranks, and pettiness. Art becomes an outlet for her, and she begins taking more interest in being an animator after being blown away by The Little Mermaid.

The book's creator Raina Telgemeier has been nominated for Eisner and Ignatz Awards. She has drawn four adaptations of The Babysitter's Club books, which have garnered accolades from the Young Adult Library Services Association and the American Library Association. This interview with the Daily Crosshatch provides insight into her work and life.

A Boston Globe-Hornbook Award Honor title and New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice, Smile is a well regarded work. Kirkus Reviews named it one of their Best for Teens 2010 books, calling it "irresistible, funny and touching." Elizabeth Bird praised Telgemeier, noting that she "has a knack for synthesizing the preadolescent experience in a visual medium." Chris Bolton writes that what sets the book apart from others is the humanity brought to the work.

An excerpt, preview video, and an interactive comics maker are all available here from the book's publisher Scholastic.

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