Casey Strauss's Reviews > Smile

Smile by Raina Telgemeier
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Feb 08, 12

bookshelves: graphic-novels, picture-books

Based on a true story, Smile is told from the perspective of middle school-aged Raina, who, after an accidental fall, then begins the long dentist office filled journey of recovery for the next several years. Initially, because of the fall, her front two teeth are then pushed up into her mouth, making the front two shorter than the rest. The reader then follows Raina as she has to return to school and suffer the teasing of her fellow classmates. As time goes on, her teeth are completely removed and she then receives a retainer with false teeth. The story follows Raina from middle school into high school, including her crushes on different boys, struggles she has in her friend group, and other issues the arise with the constant doctor appointments required for her teeth. As she ages, she makes choices when it comes to her friends, and we see her character mature and change.

This is the first graphic novel I have read, and I appreciated that it was based on the author’s actual experiences. The illustrations are in color and enjoyable to view alongside the story. As a middle school teacher, I would be comfortable recommending this book to any one of my female students who is looking for a good book to read. I think that this book would be more enjoyable for a middle school girl to read because the content would be so relatable to her. One aspect of the story is that Raina’s friends are unkind to her, but it takes her time to realize that they aren’t good to her until she makes other friends that accept her for who she is. This is a very relatable theme for any middle school girl, it makes the story believable and it’s easy to feel compassion and sympathy for Raina. I could see using this book in a small literature circle or just as a recommendation when a student asks me if I’ve read any good books lately.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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L12_markmesserly The things that children tease others about is truly astounding. With so many resources geared toward bullying and promoting acceptance, it is disappointing that such maltreatment is so common.


L12_luisespinoza Espinoza I agree that this would be a very good book for middle school-aged girl to read. It sounds like this book touches on some important areas that students at this grade level deal with; areas such as acceptance, genuine friendship, and change. This book could support bullying-related initiatives by the school.


message 3: by Marie (new)

Marie I also very much enjoyed this book both for the information and the beautiful pictures. I agree it would be a great book to use for middle grades. The picture of him having the sign around his neck about being a clown because he spoke Spanish is very telling of the times. It would open a discussion about the times in history as well as bullying. Nicely written review.


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