18 Apr / Smile by Raina Telgemeier, with color by Stephanie Yue
For anyone and everyone who has or knows a middle-grader with braces (or about to get braces), this is the book of choice to share. “I’ve been telling people about what happened to my teeth ever since I knocked them out in sixth grade,” writes veteran comics-maker Raina Telgemeier in her “Author’s Note.” “The story had plenty of strange twists and turns, and I found myself saying, ‘Wait, it gets worse!’ a lot. Eventually, I realized I needed to get it all down on paper.”
So here’s the resulting colorful tale. Sixth-grade braces are bad enough – “You’re gonna be a metal-mouth!!” – Raina’s younger sister screams from the back of the family car. But indeed, for Raina, things do get worse … far worse.
Racing a friend to her front door, Raina falls and loses her two front teeth – actually, one falls out and the other one gets so far jammed into her gumline as to all but disappear. Not to give you TOO much information … but thus begins Raina’s quest from middle school to high to finally regain her smile …
Could that dental odyssey marked by surgeries, root canals, headgear, and tiny rubber bands have happened at a worse time than smack in the midst of adolescence with changing bodies, fickle friends, first crushes, makeovers, basketball tryouts, not to mention a major earthquake? Raina certainly has more to deal with than your average teenager, but all that angst definitely gave her plenty of good material for a poignantly entertaining coming-of-age story – in full color even!
Readers: Middle Grade