Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Smile

Telgemeier, Raina (Author/Illustrator)
Scholastic 2010. 218 pages
First published: 2010
ISBN: 9780545132060 (paperback)
9780545132053 (hardcover)
Original language: English
Book type: Graphic Text
Book genre: Memoir

Text Elements:

characterization, layout, panel arrangement

Awards

Boston Globe-Horn Honor Book – 2010
Eisner Award – 2011

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

One evening after a Girl Scout meeting, eleven-year-old Raina falls and knocks out her front teeth. This begins a challenging journey to repair her smile. She goes through braces, corrective surgery, retainers and headgear. All this on top of the usual trials and tribulations of middle school: a first crush, questionable friends and the physical and mood changes that usher in the teenage years.

Inspired by a true story, this graphic novel is conveyed through believable, often funny, dialogue and realistic cartoon-style visuals that perfectly capture the tone and dynamics between characters. (“You’re gonna be a metal mouth!!” taunts Raina’s sister from the car’s back seat.) Captions indicate the passage of time as well as Raina’s inner monologue: “I realized I had been letting the way I looked on the outside affect how I felt on the inside.”

Fantastic visual sequences punctuate the storytelling. The fall when Raina knocks out her teeth is particularly vivid, as are all of her experiences in the dentist’s chair, with none of the pain or gore spared.

Dealing with themes of identity, appearances, first love and self-acceptance, this story captures the struggles of youth with a great deal of compassion, humour and insight. By the novel’s end, Raina has a “normal” set of teeth. She has found true friends and has started sketching: things to really smile about.

  •  

    Smile uses graphic novel conventions to make meaning. For example, readers need to make inferences between panels and construct the story that happens “in the gutter.”

  •  

    What do you notice about the change in Raina after her accident? Compare her before and after, consider the ways she communicates with friends and family, and her hopes and frustrations, as presented through her speech and actions.

  •  

    Use Smile as a model text for creating storyboards, comics or short graphic novels about the challenges and victories in the life experiences of a young adolescent. Experiment with the use of graphic text conventions (panels, “camera angles,” speech bubbles, etc.) to build the story.

  •  

    Smile is a realistic graphic novel. Review terms related to graphic novels in particular as well as books in general—spine, front cover, end pages, panels, captions, speech bubbles, etc.—as preparation for reading this graphic text.

  •  

    With a partner, discuss some of the following questions: Why are some pages yellow? What are the positive aspects of having a group of friends that includes both boys and girls? What could a friend do to you that would make you end the friendship? Explain Raina’s words: “I realized that I had been letting the way I look on the outside affect how I felt on the inside.”

  •  

    What advice might a parent give about what to do (or not do) when wearing braces? A teen? Use a T-chart to compare the two points of view.

  • To communicate appropriately
  • To construct his/her identity
  • To use information
  • Health and Well-Being
  • Personal and Career Planning
  • Personal Development