Friday, May 14, 2010
A minor detour was required amidst serious reading. My daughter bought this insanely popular book "Smile" at the book fair, and she assured me I could read it in about 20 minutes. Turns out, it took about an hour, but was a wonderful diversion. A little bonus? It was a graphic novel! I haven't started whittling away at my Graphic Novel Challenge yet. My intent was to have a month of graphic hedonism sometime this summer. But why not see what all the fuss was about? There had to be something to it if Emma has read it three times already.
The book is an autobiography of sorts by Raina Telgemeir, a comic illustrator who has been nominated for various Ignatz, Cybil and Eisner awards, as well as the adaptor and illustrator of Babysitter's Club graphic novels. The story follows Raina from 6th grade into high school. It documents her 4 1/2 year journey through dental torment, including reconstruction, retainers and braces. We also see her progress through boy troubles, judgemental friends, a devastating earthquake (in her hometown of San Francisco), acne, homework, and family dynamics. She learns to stay true to herself and not allow her peers to walk all over her.
In the middle grade and young adult literary environment of vampires, teen sex, foul language and bullying, this novel is a breath of fresh air. It just reconfirms that you don't need trash to entertain a 12-year-old. If I sound a little edgy, that is because I am. I recently read a very positive review of a book that I ordered from the library for my daughter to read...it sounded like it was right up her alley. Only to have my her tell me it was full of foul language and inappropriate behavior (she is pretty good at policing herself!). Shame on me for not reading it first. (I DO intend to read it by the way, so I talk her through whatever damage has been done.) She is a pretty mature 12-year-old, and understands the difference between right and wrong. Does this mean that she should read this stuff? I think she would choose not to. It makes her uncomfortable and finds it distasteful, and prefers books that make her feel like a happy, normal 12-year-old.
It is refreshing to read a book with a wholesome message. Ultimately, the proof is in Emma's attitude towards this book, which, as I said earlier, she has read three times and has rated it with quite a bit of love.
Emma: 5 out of 5 stars
Me: 4 out of 5 stars