Saturday, January 28, 2012

Kid Konnection: Smile

Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. Today I'm going to review a middle grade graphic novel that was especially pertinent in our household this week.

Summary:  Raina just wants to be a normal sixth grader. But one night after Girl Scouts she trips and falls, severely injuring her two front teeth, and what follows is a long and frustrating journey with on-again, off-again braces, surgery, embarrassing headgear, and even a retainer with fake teeth attached. And on top of all that, there's still more to deal with: a major earthquake, boy confusion, and friends who turn out to be not so friendly.

This coming-of-age true story is sure to resonate with anyone who has ever been in middle school, and especially those who have ever had a bit of their own dental drama. -- Scholastic

I decided that this week was the perfect time to read SMILE by Rayna Telgemeier. I have been meaning to read it ever since reading Sandy's review, but when Booking Daughter and I were cleaning out her book shelves this past week, I thought it was the perfect time. Booking Daughter got her braces this week and I wanted to see if she could relate to this book.

Booking Daughter read this book almost a year ago -- long before the reality of braces hit -- but she assured me that her story was nothing like the author's. Thank goodness for her that she couldn't relate to most of the dental aspects of this book. SMILE tells the true story of Raina, a tween girl who severely injures her front teeth after a fall. I know little to nothing about dental accidents, but it seemed to me that she had an especially tough journey to repair her smile. It took four and half very long years to fix Raina's teeth, and I was amazed by her strength and courage.

I just adored SMILE and thought it was a very sweet coming-of-age story for tween girls. I loved that Raina's story was presented in a graphic novel format because it just seemed ideal for her story and her character -- Raina grew up to be a successful and award winning illustrator. I admit that Raina's retelling of her dental procedures had me squirming and probably not as sympathetic to Booking Daughter's complaints as I might have been prior to reading about the author's issues, but I definitely became thankful for the little problems that I've had with my teeth over the years. I'm not sure I could have gone through what Raina did -- especially as a tween girl when I felt as if my every move was under a microscope.

While the story was certainly an interesting one, I think I most adored Raina and her spirit. SMILE covered four and a half painful years in Raina's life, but it was about more than just her journey to a beautiful smile. This book also showed how Raina dealt with other tween issues such as her family, mean girls, friends, school, gym class, acne, and boys! It also showed how Raina's family lived through the 1989 San Francisco Earthquake. And it's for these reasons that I think SMILE is such a special book. The author told her very unusual story, but she made it so that all tween girls can relate.

I loved SMILE -- probably even more so that Booking Daughter. I recommend it to all tween girls... and their moms!

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!


bermudaonion said...

I almost bought this at Target yesterday - it sounds like I should have.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I definitely should read this. In the 3rd grade? 5th grade? I got braces, headgear, retainer, the whole bit!

Laura at Library of Clean Reads said...

I loved SMILE too! My daughter reread the book when she got her braces a few months ago and was able to relate to Raina. The first time she read it she felt so bad for Raina that she dreaded the thought of getting braces. Now, SMILE is one of her favorite books.

Sandy Nawrot said...

My daughter and I loved this book. And we have to keep replacing copies in the school library because the girls cannot get enough of it and it just gets abused. It really delivers an excellent message to young girls.

Lesa said...

Bet this book was cathartic for the author. sounds like a book lots of girls could relate to whether they had braces or not.
Just discovered your blog and this link up-- thanks for hosting!