It was a happy day last week when this new graphic novel by Raina Telgemeier arrived in my library delivery. I read several glowing reviews and this little post here will be another.
Smile is an autobiographical story. 11 year-old Raina takes a spill during a fun game of chase with her friends and causes serious damage to her front teeth. The story follows her for the next 6 years as she deals with her teeth, school (middle/high school), friends, crushes, and her own self confidence. At one point in middle school she has to wear a retainer with false front teeth. I would have died. DIED.
This is such a charming story. A truly perfect middle school addition for realistic GN. It's a little dated (gasp! historical?!) since it is autobiographical, but hey, Mario Bros is a huge hit in my house and Little Mermaid worship has never ceased. So late 80s-early 90s references appear, but not overwhelming. There is one spread where we see Cover Girl NailSlics, Teen Spirit deodorant, Noxema, an EPILADY, and ex'cla-ma'tion perfume. It only lacked a Kaboodle makeup organizer and it was pretty much my exact middle school experience.
Raina's story, with the exception of the dental drama, is an every-girl story. She's not into clothes and makeup. She's still a Girl Scout and acknowledges she's not as "mature" as her other friends. She likes video games and plays the flute. She has great, loving parents. I cannot imagine a middle school (and even high school) not having this in their collection. If your students like her Baby-Sitter's Club GNs, this is a perfect next step up. (And in one spread, young Raina is reading BSC along w/ Calvin & Hobbes and For Better or For Worse.) This will be on my best of list for 2010.