Great Middle Grade Reads discussion

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ARCHIVE - BOTM discussions > BOTM for April is Smile by Reina Telgemeier

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message 1: by SaraKat (new)

SaraKat | 226 comments Mod
What did you think about Smile?


message 2: by Carmel (new)

Carmel | 73 comments I loved it! Touched my heart and made me smile! 😀 And I’m not into graphic novels. 5 ⭐️


message 3: by Manybooks (last edited Apr 06, 2019 05:45AM) (new)

Manybooks | 336 comments Smile

I really (and for a couple of years) actively hesitated trying this because the book cover

Smile by Raina Telgemeier

to me at first looked as though Raina Telgemeier's autobiographical graphic novel would be featuring big yellow moonfaces instead of actually depicted human individuals (with heads, torsos and limbs). But indeed, when I finally did decide to consider reading Smile, I not only could very much appreciate both Raina Telgemeier's story and her accompanying pictures but I also just so much loved how similar and relatable all of this has been to and for me personally, to my own late childhood and early teenagerhood (for yes, aside from Raina's issues with her teeth, much of what is illustrated and shown, written about in Smile, but especially Raina's problems with her younger sister and her toxic friends who turn out to be anything but friends, this has really often felt rather like looking in the mirror and seeing myself).


message 4: by Jaylyn (new)

Jaylyn (jaylynya101) | 18 comments I really enjoyed this book because it was such a quick read. I always wanted to read this book because when I was younger and would see my friends read this and I had no idea it was a graphic novel. I'm just starting to getting into a graphic novel and this was a great start because this is so relatable to me. I had to get oral surgery because I had an extra tooth growing in my gums. my teeth then went cricked trying to fill that space and so I had to get braces. I also liked seeing how she dealt with her toxic friends and got new ones because I'm trying to get rid of my toxic friends. anyways I liked it.


message 5: by Alba (new)

Alba Arango | 30 comments This book is a little different than most books I review because it is a graphic memoir ( I didn't even know that was a thing!).

What I liked: the author does an amazing job of showing the trials and tribulations of trudging through middle school: awkwardness, self-consciousness, friends (who turn out to be toxic), family relationships, and secret crushes. The illustrations are fun and engaging, and the woven storyline of her orthodontia experience is humorous and relatable.

What I didn’t like: a few parts of the story seemed a little slow, but as it is a memoir, that’s quite excusable.

I would highly recommend this for any kid about to get braces, or even for any kid about to enter middle school.


message 6: by Maria (new)

Maria Dateno | 44 comments I enjoyed Smile a lot. The illustrations are so expressive--I'm always amazed at how cartoonists/graphic artists can say so much through characters' expressions and body language.

Others have mentioned the toxic friends. I found myself comparing that part of the story line to a similar story line in another book I just read: The Friendship War by Andrew Clements. In Smile and The Friendship War, the friendship appears to have devolved into a less-than-healthy relationship, one that is too dependent on one side and too unkind on the other. In Smile, Raina ends the relationship, but doesn't make her former friends into enemies. The book says something like, "we still acknowledged our shared past." In The Friendship War, when Grace (the picked-on one) starts to resent the state of things, the relationship becomes very antagonistic, but eventually both Grace and Ellie (the bullying one) feel sorry for their part in the "war" and there is a reconciliation and the beginning of a new friendship with them on an equal footing. I think these are both good models for kids on how to handle a relationship that has become unhealthy.


message 7: by SaraKat (new)

SaraKat | 226 comments Mod
For me, this was a winner many times over. It hit all of the right notes to totally enthrall me. The protagonist is about my same age, so it was a trip through memory lane to see all the pop culture and events mentioned that I knew as a kid. It also made me realize how much there is to think and worry about as a middle-school kid besides school work! I think all middle school teachers should read this book to remind us what it feels like to be a kid. Raina didn't have things too bad in this book, but like most teenagers, it always feels like everything is ten times worse and everyone around you is totally focused on your issues! As we get older, we realize everyone is actually focused on their own issues and don't much notice ours! I'm glad that Raina finally realized how toxic her group of friends was and found some friends that fit her better.

I love the lesson Raina learned about how she was letting her fear of her appearance being noticed prevent her from fully engaging with others. She finally was able to smile confidently and she realized that people smile back!

I thought the illustrations were excellent and the way her friends all seemed way older than her was a great way to make her feel isolated and inadequate.


message 8: by Louie (new)

Louie | 82 comments I just finished reading Smile for the third time and it was just as good as it was the first. Raina Telegemeier knows how to make her characters feel real and she is a master at making the reader feel emotional just after a few panels. I have read almost all of her books and I can't wait til her new one comes out in September, Guts by Raina Telgemeier .


message 9: by Elza (new)

Elza Kinde (elzakinde) | 6 comments I really enjoyed Smile. The autobiographical style was refreshing from a storytelling standpoint. It's cool to see realistic relationships and misadventures shared, especially things like growing out of toxic friendships and following passions that could someday become a career!

I was also surprised by how emotive Raina Telgemeier's art style is. It made the story much more immersive for me because I was able to connect with the facial expressions and body language.


message 10: by Manybooks (last edited Apr 15, 2019 03:08PM) (new)

Manybooks | 336 comments Louie wrote: "I just finished reading Smile for the third time and it was just as good as it was the first. Raina Telegemeier knows how to make her characters feel real and she is a master at making the reader f..."

I am really looking forward to Guts but yuck, the "squee" gif-heavy reviews (or pre-reviews) that currently have the most likes are giving me major headaches, sigh.


message 11: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 336 comments Elza wrote: "I really enjoyed Smile. The autobiographical style was refreshing from a storytelling standpoint. It's cool to see realistic relationships and misadventures shared, especially things like growing o..."

Raina Telgemeier is so refreshingly honest about her childhood and beyond and also appreciatively does not paint herself as Miss Perfect, which is another reason I have found both Smile and the sequel Sisters so personally relatable.


message 12: by Elza (new)

Elza Kinde (elzakinde) | 6 comments Raina Telgemeier is so refreshingly honest about her childhood and beyond and also appreciatively does not paint herself as Miss Perfect, which is another reason I have found both Smile and the sequel Sisters so personally relatable.

YES! I'm always looking for realistic characters. What's more realistic than someone's actual experience? I think that's what makes her writing so powerful, and subsequently, popular.


message 13: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 336 comments Elza wrote: "Raina Telgemeier is so refreshingly honest about her childhood and beyond and also appreciatively does not paint herself as Miss Perfect, which is another reason I have found both Smile and the seq..."

Indeed, and I have for example not enjoyed Telgemeier's Drama nearly as much simply because it is both fictional and not as personally relatable.


message 14: by Justine (new)

Justine Laismith (justinelaismith) | 300 comments As with the theme of the month, this book, on the surface, did not appeal to me. I'm not really into non-fiction, and I don't like reading graphic novels. On top of that, the book cover doesn't do anything to pull me in. But since so many of you raved about it, I just had to borrow a copy from the library.

And I loved it! How can we not root from her after she loses her two front teeth ? Her illustrations are great, the story is so relatable and I like the way she's grown up and overcome the social awkwardness of those teenage years. An uplifting book that tells the story of resilience.


message 15: by Manybooks (new)

Manybooks | 336 comments Justine wrote: "As with the theme of the month, this book, on the surface, did not appeal to me. I'm not really into non-fiction, and I don't like reading graphic novels. On top of that, the book cover doesn't do ..."

Yes, the book cover totally turned me off as well and made me wait years before I considered reading it (and only because so many of my GR friends had loved it and told me, no, the book does not have yellow moon faces as its main characters).


message 16: by SaraKat (new)

SaraKat | 226 comments Mod
Yep, this book totally embodied the theme for this month!


message 17: by Nicole (new)

Nicole M. Hewitt (nicolemhewitt) | 2 comments I read this book (and Sisters, its companion) last year, so I didn't join in with you guys this month, but I did really enjoy the book when I read it. Since it's a memoir, all the issues don't get tied up with a nice tidy bow, but I thought that actually served the story well, in this case.


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