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Review: ‘Share Your Smile’

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Share Your Smile: Raina’s Guide to Telling Your Own Story
by Raina Telgemeier
Graphix, $12.99
Ages 8-12

Raina Telgemeier’s latest book puts a workshop course between covers. Her many devout fans will find this journal, full of prompts and activities, a friendly guide to making their own comics.

After a welcoming introduction, there are four chapters, each focusing on one of Telgemeier’s books: Smile, Sisters, Drama, and Ghosts. The first, covering Smile, is the longest, with the most detail about Telgemeier’s creative process and short lessons on drawing characters and expressions.

Share Your Smile: Raina's Guide to Telling Your Own Story

The chapters each include a three- or-four page excerpt from the graphic novel, information on what inspired the book (illustrated by selected panels), brainstorming questions to spur thoughts on the subject, photos from Raina’s childhood, and blanks to draw or write according to the prompts. The book ends with a list of creativity tips and a couple of preview pages from Telgemeier’s next book, Guts.

A library might consider that much of the book encourages readers to write and draw in its pages, making it difficult to lend without caution. Even those uninterested in creating may find the short sections about background and influences informative about favorite reads, although they are generally light and breezy, aimed at the younger audience. The emphasis here is firmly on showing kids how to start making comics about things that interest them.

Telgemeier makes the process look attractive and fun, with plenty of inspiration and a general feeling that anyone can do this. As Telgemeier says in her introduction, “most of what it takes is time, dedication, and a desire to tell a story! (And, you know, lots and lots and lots of practice.)”

Johanna About Johanna

Johanna Draper Carlson has been reviewing comics for over 20 years. She manages, the longest-running independent review site online that covers all genres of comic books, graphic novels, and manga. She has an MA in popular culture, studying online fandom, and was previously, among many other things, webmaster for DC Comics. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

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