Sixth and seventh grade students are always asking me for another book by Raina Telgemeier. They want the “next one,” not realizing that with the exception of her Babysitter Club adaptations, her books are stand-alones. They also don’t realize that it takes an awfully long time to write and draw a full length-graphic novel! But it’s gratifying to see such a strong desire to read more from the same author. And now I can finally say that there is a next one! Scholastic Graphix is releasing Sisters, a companion to Smile.
By Raina Telgemeier
Scholastic. 208 p. ISBN 9780545540599
$24.99 hc/$10.99 pbk
Recommended for Grades 4+
As a younger sister, I feel very qualified to review this book. In fact, I’m five years younger than my own sister, approximately the same age difference between Raina and her sister, and while my own story doesn’t actually mirror hers, the emotions it evokes were very familiar.
The story opens at a family dinner, as Raina, her mom, and her siblings prepare for a road trip that will end at a family reunion. Their father is staying behind to work but will meet them at their relatives’ house. Flashbacks are incorporated throughout the book, as Raina wonders why she ever wished for a sister; we learn how at the age of 4 all she did was beg for a sister, until miraculously one came! But not everything was as expected. Her sister didn’t get the name she wanted. Nor, as a baby, did her sister do anything but cry. As her sister grew older, the only thing they shared in common was drawing, but even that seemed to cause tension between them.
We learn a lot about the dynamics in the Telgemeier household through the well-structured flashbacks. They are incorporated so well that readers will have no problem shifting from past to present until the story comes to a head in the present. In case you’re squeamish, this involves snakes! I enjoyed the fact that Telgemeier stayed true to her own era. Though few of her targeted audience will probably have ever seen a Walkman, Telgemeier doesn’t try to “hide” when her story takes place. Hopefully her readers will recognize that emotions and family and the whole tangled web of life all evoke similar emotions despite time.
The artwork has Telgemeier’s trademark style, which is already instantly recognizable by her readers. The artwork (and the narration) evokes much humor in the storytelling, especially using the vivid and lively expressions on the faces. She uses soft colors. The flashbacks are indicated by using a sepia tone.
Readers will be very satisfied with this story. And I know my students will come back and ask me, “What else can I read by this author?”
This review is based on a complimentary e-galley supplied by the publisher. All images copyright © Scholastic
About Esther Keller
Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. She also curates the Graphic Novel collection for the NYC DOE Citywide Digital Library. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 4 and regularly reviews for SLJ and School Library Connection (formerly LMC). In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.
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