Read before 2 Rites of Passage: braces and/or middle school


After an accident causes Raina to severely injure her two front teeth, her hopes for being a "normal" sixth grader are dashed. Through middle school and into high school, she is dealing with various treatments to repair her teeth. There's a lot of "dental drama": surgery, braces, retainers, and even headgear. Along the way, Raina learns that boys are not the nicest people, friends can be enemies, and you should never stray too far from who you are. 

BTSYA / Teen Reader (12):
Throughout the book, I could feel myself wanting to reach out and comfort Raina. The story is very realistic, and she goes through many tough situations, both physically and emotionally. The author incorporates humor into the story, and even in serious spots, Raina was able to make fun of herself at that age (something many of us cannot do). Even while she acknowledges that preteens and teens aren't always logical, rather than sulk about it, she twists it into something enjoyable and funny. 

The main theme is accepting who you are, and time and time again, the book reinforced this. By the end, Raina is a changed person, both physically because of her teeth but emotionally too. She realizes what she loves, what she hates, and that some people are not worth her time. And that is Okay! At first glance, it may seem long (233 pages), but because it is a graphic novel, it is actually much shorter. Plus, pictures tell most of the story. I recommend this story as a gift for people ages 10-14 who are getting braces, feeling left out, or just want a good read. It is a definite must read! 


Reader Enjoyment Factors:

Whether they have or are facing the rites of passage known as braces and middle school, young readers will find a friend in Raina. The story is personal, reflective, inspiring and even a little funny.

Content Awareness Factors:


Type of Book:
This is an autobiography told as a graphic novel for preteens. It is an excellent choice as a high interest / low readability book for remedial readers.
Educational Themes:

Graphic novels tend to be books that you read independently, and this is no different. Lots of the "action" takes place in the illustrations. Even so, this would be a good book to share in a book club and then come back to discuss.

Reading Level:
Recommended Age To Read By Yourself:
9 and Up
Recommended Age To Read Together:
10 and Up
Age of child:
Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™ . Reviewer age: 12
Purchase Recommendation:
Buy. Our teen says this is a buy for kids who feel left out or are getting ready to deal with braces.

Title Smile
Author Raina Telgemeier
Publisher Graphix, Imprint Scholastic Inc. © 2010
ISBN 9780545132060
Material Paperback
Cost $10.99
Genres Friendship, Humor, Biography, Coming of Age, Comics | Graphic Novels, Health & Wellness, Growing Up
be the star you are Cybils
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