Friday, March 11, 2011


Telgemeier, R. (2010). Smile. New York, NY: Graphix.

Plot Summary:

Due to her overbite, Raina was told by her orthodontist she’s going to have to get braces. The very same night Raina was racing some friends in the street and falls, busting her two front teeth. She was immediately rushed to the dentist who attempted to replace her teeth and build a cast around them to keep them in place. After a week the cast was removed and (oh no!) the jawbone had sustained more damage than her dentist thought and her two front teeth were higher up in her gums than the rest of her teeth. She looked like a vampire! These teeth had to go. Raina was given a temporary retainer with two fake teeth attached to fill the large gap left by her missing teeth. Then, the dentist decided to put braces on Reina, as planned, but try to bring all of her teeth closer together, thereby replacing her missing teeth with the teeth she already had. This was a lengthy and painful process filled with fake front teeth that were continuously shaved down as Raina’s teeth moved closer together through the constant tightening of her braces. After years of this, the gap between Raina’s teeth finally closed and her existing teeth were reshaped to look normal. Throughout this entire ordeal, Raina finished elementary school, middle school, and entered into high school; she also grew apart from her friends and found new ones who were much more accepting and fun to be with.


A graphic novel was the perfect format for Raina Telgemeier to tell the story of the long horrible process of fixing her front teeth. The illustrations provided funny and truthful portrayals of the discomfort and pain associated with dentist and orthodontist visits. The subject matter would have not been as entertaining or easy to read about without the illustrations. Not only did the author succeed in telling us about her horrific ordeal with dentists, orthodontists, endodentists, and peridontists, she also was able to show the changes that she was going through in addition to her teeth; those of her friendships and school life. Reina made a transition common to many children who move from elementary to middle school, she realized she had less in common with her friends than she had when they were younger, so she parted ways and found some new ones. This is a transition I went through at that time, as I’m sure many have. It’s nice that this graphic novel shows that this is just something that happens and can turn out to be a really good thing.

graphic novel, nonfiction

Reading Level:
Ages 9-12

dental care, self-identity, friendships

2010 Boston Glob-Horn Book Award Honor
2010 New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice

Character Names/Descriptions:
Raina Telgemeier: begins her story in the sixth grade and finishes as a sophomore in high school; sustains a serious mouth injury which causes her to spend many years trying to get her front teeth fixed

After knocking out her two front teeth, Raina spends her tween years filled with visits to dentists, orthodontists, endodentists, and peridontists. Throughout these years, Raina learns about life, friendships, and most of all herself.

No comments:

Post a Comment