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Monday, April 18, 2011

Smile, written by Raina Telgemeier. Scholastic, 2010. $13.99 ages 10 and up

The one on the basketball team?
He's cute! Hey, Valentine's Day is
coming up! You should ask him out!
What?! Me?!
Sure! Ask him to the dance or something!
I could NEVER do that!
Why not?
I'd want him to ask me."

Raina is a typical sixth grader, wanting to be normal and well-liked, inobtrusive yet popular. Coming home from a Girl Scouts outing she trips and falls. The painful result is painful trauma to her two front teeth and the subsequent years of treatment to try and repair the damage done. It is a long, unpleasant and disheartening process that includes braces, surgeries, headgear, false teeth and retainers. That is all about her teeth!

What about the normal day-to-day drama of middle school and finding your way through the maze that includes acne, boys, ratty friends and a San Francisco earthquake? How does one deal with all of that, too?

As an adult whose passion is art, specifically graphica, you create a story about it. You do it with skill and sensitivity, bringing back memories of your past and trying to make sense of it all for your future.  If you are a middle school survivor you might find bits of yourself here. If you had to deal with dentists, orthodontists, periodontists, dental surgeons, you may even share some of Raina's experiences.

Every middle school student will be familiar with uncertainty about appearance, vulnerability within friendships and finding independence and a sense of self. Raina Telgemeier shares this memoir with warmth and dignity, adding generous doses of humor along the way.  Your kids will love it, be sure to get it into their hands!

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