"No one is born fully-formed: it is through self-experience in the world that we become what we are." Pablo Freire

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Smile :)

Extraordinary, Charismatic, Picturesque, Realistic, Pertinent
Smile by Raina Telgemeier 
Published by Graphix, an imprint of Scholastic Copyright 2010
"Telgemeier has created an utterly charming graphic memoir of tooth trauma, first crushes and fickle friends, sweetly reminiscent of Judy Blume's work...Young girls will relate to her story, and her friend-angst is palpable. Readers should not overlook this seemingly simply drawn work; the strong writing and emotionally expressive characters add an unexpected layer of depth. As an afterword, the author includes a photo of her smiling, showing off the results of all of the years of pain she endured. Irresistible, funny and touching – a must read for all teenage girls, whether en-braced or not." -Kirkus Reviews
As we enter Raina's world, we soon encounter her weariness about getting braces. However, when Raina is running to beat her friends to her house, Raina trips and her two front teeth are broken. Immediately Raina and her mother go to the dentist and have painful work done. Waking up Raina has a cast on her teeth to hold them in place-no big deal, but when the cast is removed and her two front teeth are pushed up into her bone-"I look like a vampire!" (p 24). As the novel progresses, Raina has more and more trouble with her teeth,from head gear and retainers to braces and fake teeth. As the awkward times continue from middle school to high school, Raina realizes the people that make fun of her are not really her friends after all. She stands up to her friends, feeling lonely for awhile but in the end feeling better about herself all around. Telegemeier  writes, "I realized that i had been letting the way i looked on the outside affect how i felt on the inside," (p 206). This graphic novel is a great book for teenagers going through the awkward and difficult times that we all have to go through. In the end we all realize it's what we have on the inside that matters.

Reading Level: Grade 6
Suggested Delivery: Independent read
Extras: This book has neat signatures and yearbook signings in the front and back of the book. It also has a "Thanks To", "Author's Note" and page about the author in the end pages of the book.

Teachers here are some resources that may help you teach Smile...
Key Vocabulary: Endodontist, orthodontist, overbite, Novocaine, head gear, molars, optimism, Richter, periodontist, negligence, dissertation, respect
Electronic Resources:
  • Scholastic: Create your own smile video, read about Raina, and even watch a Smile video. Great for after reading activities.
  • Raina: Visit Raina's website as you view a summary of the book, where to purchase it, and multiple reviews. 
  • Youtube: Before reading, this would be a good video to show students to get them engaged and interested about the book. 
  • NYTimes: Read the first NY Times news article about Smile by Raina Telgemeier on May 14, 2010.
Activities for Students:
  • Before Reading: Show students the front cover of the book and ask them to make a prediction, then show them the back cover of the book. Did their predictions change? Why did they change? What did you notice about the back of the book? As a class, try to make a general prediction about what the book will be about.
  • During Reading: Students will be relating with Raina when it comes to friends, embarrassment, awkwardness and more. Have students write an essay comparing and contrasting how Raina's life is similar to their life. How does Raina feel in middle school? How is she starting to feel about her friends? What is she starting to realize about her friends and about her teeth? How does this relate to your life?
  • After Reading: Have students create their own smile comic on scholastic. After everyone has finished, share them with the class.
"Telgemeier's storytelling and full-color cartoony images form a story that will cheer and inspire any middle-schooler dealing with orthodontia." -Booklist
Telgemeier, R. (2010). Smile. New York: Graphix.  

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