Smile and Sisters by Raina Telgemeier
Smile, a NY Times bestselling youth graphic memoir is based on the childhood of artist Raina Telgemeier.
While in sixth grade, Raina is running into the house after a Girl Scout meeting, and she trips and falls, causing her two front teeth to be knocked backwards. This begins several long years of braces, surgery, headgear, etc -- not a fun way to start middle school. At the same time, Raina is dealing with all of the drama that comes with middle school -- boys, changing friendships (not to mention a major earthquake).
Her story continues in Sisters -- The summer before high school Raina and her family take a road trip from San Francisco to Colorado, but flashes back to memories of their childhood as well This sequel mainly focuses on the relationship between Raina and her little sister Amara.
Both graphic memoirs can be read independently of each other, but are more powerful together. Telgemeier's colorful illustrations bring the story to life and create an emotional depth in the characters.
Highly recommended for tweens on up -- both memoirs would be as enjoyable for students starting middle school as for nostalgic adults (note: the author is in her 30s, so her childhood in the 80's/90's was very familiar to this reader)
Readers who enjoy Smile and Sisters, should check out Telgemeier's fictional works -- her first graphic novel was Drama, and she has also done the Baby-Sitters Club Graphic Novels). Readers may also enjoy Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson (reviewed here by James) and El Deafo by Cece Bell.
Adult readers who enjoy graphic memoirs will also enjoy the works of Lucy Knisley, including French Milk and Relish which I reviewed here previously. (note: her works do touch on some more mature themes)