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Smile author Raina Telgemeier



Everyone loves a perfect smile with great white teeth that sparkle and shine. No child wants to walk around with metal in their mouth, braces and feel like they are wired for sound. But, when Raina Telegemeier slips and falls that beautiful smile of hers disappears and what’s left in its place is two empty spaces. Bad enough she injured two front teeth but the end result will be every young sixth grader’s nightmare and many adults too as this journey leads her to the dentist, friends who are mean and not supportive and much more. Welcome to Smile: A True story we can all learn from.


This story is told in comic form with pictures that will help the reader understand why Raina and even adults dread going to the dentist. It starts with a visit to a dentist whose last name alone would send me flying out the door. Would you go to someone named Dragon? Making it worse Raina learns that she needs braces and naturally the first think out of her friend’s mouth is “ you are going to be metal-mouth.” Sounds familiar as my sister went through it too but I was not the one who said it. Next, the worst has yet to come as poor Raina goes to her Girl Scout Meeting and disaster befalls her even further. While there everyone chimes in a gives her their opinion and advice on what not to do when wearing braces. But, what happens after the meeting is what causes her even more strife and pain. Raina slips and falls on the way home and then realizes the present in her hand is not one anyone would want: a Tooth. Lucky for Raina the dentist was in and she endured the pain of saving her teeth. But poor Raina felt out of sorts. But, her teacher would send her card that I guess triggered the title for this great book, which said: Smile!


But, poor Raina’s troubles just started when she returned to the dentist I don’t know who was more in despair Raina or the dentist when he realized that the problem was more serious than he thought. Raina’s front teeth were not where they were supposed to be when the cast was removed and she now had to see an endodontist to repair the damage. Root canal is no fun that I can attest to and for sixth grader just the thought can be frightening. The pictures are so real and lifelike I felt like I was going through it with her and I just did not too long ago. I wish my dentist had given me a radio to listen to and not made me listen to him and the nurse. That rubber thing in her mouth brought back memories but the end result was you just wait and see. Every step of the way the dentist described what he was going to do and I guess that did not make her feel any better.


But, the visit to the orthodontist for her braces, which started with more films, impressions and poking and prodding, did nothing for her appetite or her self-esteem. But, poor Raina really got the raze from friends, her family and wanted something to make her feel grown up. So, even though she really did not want to give in her mother allowed her to get her ears pierced. Wearing headgear, braces and trying to become a normal teen would not be easy for our author or anyone at that age going through so much. What else could happen? Well if you are teen added to the braces what you do if the first day of school you broke out all over your face? But, band practice just might make more than just music as a cute guy notices her. Then, something that would awaken everyone happened. An earthquake is serious and when one hits even her sister sees things in a different light. Earthquake, missing teeth, braces and teasing what more does a kids need? But, she even realizes that she is lucky to have survived the quake and hopefully will endure and overcome the rest.

When the retainer finally felt right the braces had to be replaced and the girls in her classes were not very nice and the comments well totally uncalled for. Makeover that turned out to be nightmare and boy who just might like her but the girls made it sound differently. Pranks can hurt and Raina took things to heart but then she decided maybe a change would be good.


There are many real life issues that the author brings to light that so many kids go through. Teasing, braces, feeling awkward, trying to fit in and just being normal is not easy for anyone growing today or even in the past. Raina learns the true meaning of friendship, honesty and love as you take the journey along with this reader with Raina from middle school to high school and now in the present. Author Raina Telgemeier shares more than her story with us she shares her fears, her feelings and her awakening of what is truly important in this world. But, before all would be said and done she would endure getting a retainer, wearing braces for a long time and eventually false teeth to replace the ones she lost. But, kids can really be mean, the teasing does hurt but Raina manages to weather it all. From acne, to braces, to hair, makeup and much more our author shares it all with the reader but including her experiences with boys. The end and what happens you will have to read and learn for yourself. The lessons she learns are invaluable as one young girl realizes it is not what is outside that counts there is so much more. What did high school have in store for her besides new friends? Dentists that just might need to learn more about how to deal with kids. Kids that need to learn how to be more understanding and one young girl that teaches all of us that inner beauty is more important and valuable. What is her life’s passion besides trying to get one young man’s attention? What do you think? This is one book that I really enjoyed reading in one hour and will definitely reread again. Thanks to my nephew for telling me about Smile and the author. Thanks to scholastic for sending me this great book to read and review. Sometimes we forget that a simple smile can make all the difference in the world. So, whatever happens no matter what braces, acne or even a losing a tooth. SMILE! I WILL! Real life story, real life experiences and illustrations drawn so lifelike you feel like you are sitting in the dentist’s chair with Raina. Not only that you feel the pain, the stress, the tears and the smiles that one young girl has to go through just to SMILE!


Fran Lewis: reviewer




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