Publisher: Graphix (Scholastic)
middle grade graphic novel memoir
Will Eisner winner
This was my first Telgemeier title and it certainly won’t be my last.
I loved hearing her on The Yarn podcast and immediately wanted to check out her work.
Smile is based on Telgemeier’s own childhood experience with extensive dental work after an unfortunate accident knocked out her two front teeth. Our main character, Raina, navigates through middle school and into high school while experiencing many levels of dental nightmares. She gets retainers with fake teeth, root canals, braces, fixes an over bite AND a cross bite, and has her entire mouth reconstructed to bring the top teeth closer together to fill the holes left by the two missing top teeth. Never having experienced even braces, I cannot imagine the pain she must have felt!
On top of all of this added anxiety, she is figuring out how the world works as one does in middle and high schools. Bad friends, boys, puberty… you know, the worst stuff ever. But the last panel shows her smiling, fixed teeth and all, for a school photo with a good group of friends showing that it is possible to get through some of the toughest years of our lives.
Telgemeier does a great job hitting all of the important topics for middle graders while telling her unfortunate dental history. And the art work is beautiful.
I can’t wait to check out more of her work and other memoir middle grade graphic novels.