SMILE

Telgemeier has created an utterly charming graphic memoir of tooth trauma, first crushes and fickle friends, sweetly reminiscent of Judy Blume’s work. One night, Raina trips and falls after a Girl Scout meeting, knocking out her two front teeth. This leads to years of painful surgeries, braces, agonizing root canals and other oral atrocities. Her friends offer little solace through this trying ordeal, spending more of their time teasing than comforting her. After years of these girls’ constant belittling, Raina branches out and finds her own voice and a new group of friends. Young girls will relate to her story, and her friend-angst is palpable. Readers should not overlook this seemingly simply drawn work; the strong writing and emotionally expressive characters add an unexpected layer of depth. As an afterword, the author includes a photo of her smiling, showing off the results of all of the years of pain she endured. Irresistible, funny and touching—a must read for all teenage girls, whether en-braced or not. (Graphic memoir. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-13205-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Bantam Discovery

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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A biography that goes beyond static history, inspiring respect for Charlotte and encouraging writers and artists to defend...

CHARLOTTE BRONTË BEFORE JANE EYRE

From the Center for Cartoon Studies Presents series

This graphic biography presents Charlotte Brontë and her family as they persist through abundant struggles.

Readers see Charlotte grow from a cynical child in a family of six to an adult writer searching for a publisher. In telling her story, Fawkes includes lighthearted moments, like the reading posture necessitated by her nearsightedness or the dramatic fantasy world she and her siblings collectively imagined over the years. These temper the predominant, unavoidable melancholy over things such as the deaths of her two older siblings and the indentured drudgery of time as a teacher. Most successfully, Fawkes communicates the threat of poverty should Charlotte and her sisters be unable to secure financial independence, with few options available for Victorian women. Fawkes deftly weaves narration from Charlotte’s writings into appropriate biographical scenes. Despite setting notations, scene changes are sometimes jarring, and the ending is especially abrupt, cutting off at the moment of Charlotte’s success, as the title suggests. Fawkes’ illustrations appear as black-and-white, shaded pencil drawings in a style that cartoonist Alison Bechdel aptly describes in the introduction as “crisp and engaging.” A postscript by Fawkes explains her artistic and textual choices and personal “love” for Charlotte’s “persistence” and “imagination.” Sources for much of the narration and selected bibliography close.

A biography that goes beyond static history, inspiring respect for Charlotte and encouraging writers and artists to defend their work through adversity. (Graphic biography. 12-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-02329-0

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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Long on death, short on depth.

FEVER YEAR

THE KILLER FLU OF 1918

A general overview of the flu pandemic of 1918.

While World War I was raging, a particularly virulent influenza began to strike civilians and soldiers alike. No one knew, at first, that a virus caused the disease, and it spread rapidly and apparently randomly—a fact underscored by Brown’s (The Unwanted, 2018, etc.) use of statistics regarding mortality rates and the pace of infection from locations around the globe. One of the more confusing aspects of this flu was that it seemed to strike the healthy and young rather than the old and infirm. But this information, along with other facts—e.g. why black American nurses were not allowed to serve overseas—is not explored further. Also not explored, frustratingly, is what made this particular flu so deadly. The story emphasizes the important work of nurses as well as the complete ineffectiveness of health officials and civic leaders in combating the disease and preventing its spread, but it doesn’t delve beneath the surface. Brown’s illustrations, done in a sketchy style with a muted palette, are clear but lack vigor. The majority of people portrayed are white, and characters of power and interest are mainly white men, but this white male default as a Western society norm is not challenged. The term “colored” is modified with “sic” but is not contextualized.

Long on death, short on depth. (source notes, bibliography) (Graphic history. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-358-16851-5

Page Count: 96

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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