Thursday, 5 February 2015

I Read... Smile and Sisters

I'm not a big graphic novel reader, but I often suggest them for students and teachers to use in the classroom.  I've been trying to make sure that I read more myself so that I can recommend titles and understand the medium better, but I am not usually drawn to the form.  I decided to pick up Smile by Raina Telgemeier- it's been sitting on my bookshelf for awhile and I had only heard good things.  I'm so glad that I finally picked it up because I ended up reading both Smile and the accompanying book Sisters within the hour.

First of all, the art is great- super fun and engaging.  It certainly drew me in.  Smile is about Raina, a middle-school girl who is going through the awkward stage that so many girls can relate to.  She has an accident that leaves her with a dental issue that makes her look different from her peers.  I could really relate to this girl's frustration about the crossover between her dental damage and her coming-of-age story- I have been going through through the process of getting a dental implant which leaves me toothless for long periods of time.  I also had an accident when I was a young girl where I had my front tooth fall out (which lead to my current problems...), and I could relate to some very specific concerns that Raina had- when she talked about her dental cast, I had flashbacks to my own dental cast.  

Through the process of having her teeth fixed, Raina learns about the true meaning of friendship, family, and the importance of being yourself.

After reading Smile so quickly, I decided to grab Sisters, which you can purchase in a boxed set with Smile.  As the title suggests, this story follows Raina and her sister Amara.  The family is taking a road trip to visit family, and the story flashes back to important times in their relationship as they grew up.  The girls don't get along, but as they reflect on their changing family situation they come to an appreciation of one another.  While this graphic novel was charming and had hilarious moments (look for "the incident" of the snake), I didn't think that it compared to the charm of Smile.  

Food for thought... Do you read graphic novels?  Have you ever used them in the classroom?  What are some graphic novel titles that you can suggest?  

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