Smile by Raina Telgemeier is a true story about the author as a teenager. Oh, and it’s a graphic novel. The main plot revolves around the knocking out her front teeth and getting braces but it really shows how these things affected how she looked at her life.
I’ll start by explaining that Raina was already slated to get braces to correct her overbite before the accident where she knocked out the teeth. From the sounds of it, the whole thing should have been short and easy but instead she had to deal with years of surgeries, headgear, retainers, and a restricted diet. I was totally having sympathy pains throughout all the dental stuff. I went something very similar when I was around the same age, only without knocking out any teeth and no headgear, thank goodness. I’ve always had problem teeth. When I was in Grade 3, I had a spacer that was supposed to get rid of the gap between my front teeth but ended up overlapping them and then they had to reverse it. This is more than likely the reason that I had to get braces. When I was in Grade 8, my dentist discovered that I had a tooth near the front that was coming in sideways, so I had to have oral surgery (like Raina) to expose that tooth and remove seven others (including my wisdom teeth so that they didn’t interfere later). Then they put on the braces and had to slowly drag down the exposed tooth into place, which was extremely painful. Since braces are so expensive, my parents saved money by getting them done at the local university. The students did a good job but unfortunately, they took around twice as long as they should have in an attempt to make my teeth perfect. Also, like Raina, I had a cry in public moment when I was told that they had to stay on longer. Altogether, I had braces for almost three years. The best day of my teenage life was the day that they came off.
I think that my favourite part of this book is that Raina’s dental problems really made her think hard about her relationship with her friends. I won’t give anything away but there was a part that I cheered really hard for her because she did something I’m not sure I’d have had the courage to do at her age.
This was the second time that I read this book and I enjoyed it just as much as the first time. Will this book win the Intermediate Division? Hard to say. Oh, and even thought this book is Intermediate Division, it definitely would be good for younger ages, too.
What I’m reading now: Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness, 13 Treasures by Michelle Harrison, The Faceless Ones audiobook by Derek Landy, and Incarceron audiobook by Catherine Fisher.
The Red Pyramid is the beginning of Rick Riordan’s new kid’s series, The Kane Chronicles. This book landed in the Intermediate division but I could have easily have been Junior, as well, which is proven by the fact that the first book of his other new series, The Lost Hero, is in the Junior division. I personally feel that the organizers really wanted to include both of the books but the rules say that you can’t have two from the same author in the same category.
Sadie and Carter Kane are siblings but they aren’t close. Ever since their mother’s death six years ago, they have lived apart; Sadie in London with their maternal grandparents and Carter traveling the world with their Egyptologist father. At the beginning of the book, Carter and his father travel to London for their annual visit with Sadie for her birthday. But before the festivities can begin, they make a stop off at the British Museum to see the Rosetta Stone after hours (I totally had a gleeful “I’ve been there” moment when I read this part). This is when the Kane kids discover two things about their father: he can do magic and he’s being chased by other magicians. Something goes horribly wrong as he tries to do a spell and he unleashes several Egyptian gods that were trapped in the rock; the worst being Set, the god of chaos. And so the Kanes set off on a journey to find their father, who was taken by Set, discover their magical Ancient Egyptian heritage, and attempt to save the world, all the while running from the First Nome (the other wizards) and trying to deal with the god that have taken up residence in their heads.
I started this book expecting it to be like the Percy Jackson series and in some ways it is. It has the interesting characters, witty dialogue and random ridiculousness. But the rest of it is quite different. First, the book is supposed to be a transcription of a recording the Kanes have made to inform people of what they went through. The whole thing is in first person but the perspective changes from brother to sister and back to brother several times through the book with the occasional aside about comments that the other sibling makes off tape. Both of the Kanes are quite funny, especially Sadie, and it’s an interesting way of being able to keep the story in first person and follow both kids when they separate. I read this book quite a while ago and then earlier this year I listened to it on audiobook to refresh it in my mind for the teen book club that I run. The audiobook was brilliantly done by two different narrators. It took a little time to get used to stuff like how each did voices a little differently for the same characters and when they did each other’s accents but I quickly grew to love it. The other big thing that was so different from Percy was how the gods work. Unlike the Greek gods who have physical forms and can go wherever they like, the Egyptian gods are only spirit like creatures outside of the Duat (Egyptian heaven and underworld) and must possess someone in order to act. Only people with the blood of the pharaohs, like the Kanes, can handle being possessed by the important gods like Horus and Isis. Thousands of years ago the magicians banned taking on gods because they believed that that was the reason the Egyptian rule fell apart. The Kanes’ family disagreed and that is why they were on the run.
I recently finished the third book of this series, and possibly final, book of this series and I loved all of them. Will it win the Intermediate Division? Quite possibly.
What I’m reading right now: The Rowan by Anne McCaffrey, The Faceless Ones by Derek Landy (audiobook), and The Fifth Elephant by Terry Pratchett (audiobook).