From Anita Silvey'sChildren's Book-A-Day Almanac:
In this honest and straightforward book, examining the struggles of growing up and dealing with identify, Raina shares all her concerns—getting crushes, finding new friends, and slowly beginning to understand her place in a new school. In the end she finds the solution to her problems: “I threw my passion into things I enjoyed, rather than feeling sorry for myself. I realized that I had been letting the way I looked on the outside affect how I felt on the inside. But the more I focused on my interests, the more it brought out things I liked about myself.”
Few writers have given better advice to young readers. Because Raina uses the most popular format of the day, the graphic novel, to tell this story, she has already won over her audience by the time she delivers these lines. Readers come to love Raina, cheer her along, and even learn a great deal about what happens in the dentist chair and what various dental procedures entail. For anyone who has had to undergo extensive dental work, whether braces or reconstructive surgery, this book is almost a necessity.
Since publication, Smile has been wildly popular with young readers. John Schumacher, Librarian at the Brook Forest Elementary School in Oak Brook, Illinois, witnessed a fifth grader put the book in a friend’s hand, guide her to the circulation desk, and say, “You must check this out now and tell me your thoughts in the morning!” An interactive website has also been widely used by fifth and sixth graders. Some read Smile as a memoir; others simply find themselves fascinated by a story that rings so true to their own experiences. Outside of being easy to comprehend and a very fresh and honest look at common dilemmas among children and teens, Smile has been created by someone who remembers, in exacting detail, the concerns of fifth through eighth graders. In the end, whether you are an adult or child, after finishing this book you will find yourself smiling along with the protagonist.
Here’s a page from Smile:
Also recommended: Tooth Trouble by Abby Klein
Originally posted February 16, 2011. Updated for 2012.