Friday, March 1, 2013
Smile by Raina Telgemeier
I am sorry to tell you that I was very much a latecomer to the graphic novel. I was resistant. I didn't want to like them or endorse them and now looking back, I am not sure why.
Smile by Raina Telgemeier was the first graphic novel I read and it was a completely wonderful experience. So much in fact, that Sarah and I selected it to be our Mother-Daughter book club book for the month of February.
Smile tells the story in words and pictures of Raina, a 6th grader who suffers a fall on her way home from Girl Scouts and suffers a rather traumatic injury that leads to several years of painful dental visits, retainers, and braces.
We follow Raina and her dental tribulations through to high school and along the way she learns the difference between friends who tease and bullies who are just mean. Raina's story isn't all doom and gloom, she tells it and draws it with a great deal of humor. And one of the most beautiful points of the story is that Raina learned to cope with her problems, dental and otherwise, by focusing on her art! And now she is a published and award winning cartoonist. My favorite frame in the book is of Raina, upside-down on the living room couch, reading the Babysitters Club! Telgemeier has adapted the first four books in this series into graphic novels. What a fabulous tribute to a favorite childhood book!
Smile is a great graphic novel and a great story. It is sweet and funny and shares lessons of friendship without ever being preachy or heavy handed.
The girls in our book club overwhelming loved Smile. One girl in particular who is usually quiet was very participatory. Everyone had great thoughts and shared them with the group. To compliment the friendship theme and 80's setting, we made friendship pins and the mom's seemed to enjoy this as much as the girls!